In these interesting and intriguing times of our human existence, did you ever think that we, the people, would be blessed with an octogenarian Michael Jackson, sitting on a rocking chair, swaying away at his balcony or porch, waiting for signs of the times?. Let's get serious for a brief moment: Did you think that someday, he would be your next door neighbor at a retirement or nursing home for the elderly in any devil may care hometown or city?
Perhaps, you did not expect him to die suddenly at 50 of heart attack on June 25th, 2009. He was human. And just like you, my dear reader, I had imagined him a sage, retiring in my beautiful Onicha- Ugbo Village, as the head of my community. I wished I had the privilege of attending regular village meetings, functions and watched him break and blessed the kola-nuts and toast the earth with palm-wine, his words and parables of songs. If you imagined these at an afternoon office desk day dreaming, then you might not have been privileged to watch him moon-walked, gyrated and challenged the physicality of human endurance.
He came, he "Rocked My World." No matter where your world was, he was "Gone Too Soon”, six years this week. And it still feels like yesterday. Michael was here. The world celebrated his eternal absence from earth, holding on to fate and faith that this American whiz kid from Gary Indiana was not dead. The man died on a hot and humid day in June 2009!
Michael Jackson was one of a few: everyone felt he belonged to them. In whatever strange ways we created to separate ourselves from his strangeness, he always found a way to overcome these divisions. We expected more from him than he could manifest. I am not going to gloat in his demise because we are lesser of a culture by his loss. He encored his final performance. It was private, painful and perhaps, a sacrament of faith between him and the Creator. By the time we expected the news to be just tales by California's daylight; the body bag containing his remains was being carried, live on Network television stations, from the perched Helicopter into a van headed for the coroner's office.
He came with nothing; when he expired, he left us with catalogues of inestimable values. He transcended so much within a short period of time that we were privileged to "own" him: his sincerity, his childlike appreciations, he tried to bring to manifestation; working very hard, defying his body and soul so that we as a human family would "shake your body down to the ground", whether we were “Black or White". As spectators and concert goers, we witnessed and appreciated the results of intense artistic and creative inventions. We sat back and enjoyed the results of those showbiz hard work and preparations, especially when he called us to "Leave your nine to five jobs on the shelves and enjoy yourselves. Let the madness in the music get to you, life aint bad at all..." Not understanding the amount of work it took him to make us feel the sounds of this super "Smooth Criminal".
In order for him to embrace the world, he sacrificed his childhood for the universe. Did "You Remember The Time" he gyrated as a child in that infamous Motown black and white studio video, capturing the innocence of an icon as he imitated the dance routines of his idols: Jackie Wilson and James Brown?, did you remember when he ascended from BBC studios as a 21-year old, dressed in a black velvet suit with a bow tie, smiling and commanding us to "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough,".. Did you remember his most defining moment when he literally moon-walked and for brief seconds, suspended our breath with a gasp, legendary dance steps at the Motown 25th anniversary. Did you see or feel the ecstasy in his concerts, from Japan to Russia and across the Wembley stadium and stadia all over the world, as his fans fainted in frenzy, because they could not believe they were witnessing an iconic performance that was just "Human Nature".
These were few memorable sacrifices from Michael Jackson; these sacrifices were gifts that engaged us, enhanced our happy lives, enchanted us and would continue to remind us that Michael "You're just another part of me".
As Africa faced the most difficult famine of the eighties, Michael gloved his palm, called the best world music performers then, assembled them at a record studio and demanded that they collectively lead a massive humanitarian effort to eradicate hunger in Ethiopia and other poor nations across the world because "We are the ones that make a brighter day, so let's start giving." The world massively responded to that call- to- action through the power of his music and his soft passionate pleas.
Four summers ago, I saw the most beautiful video of Michael Jackson being a dad to his children on TV: it was a tear jerking moment. Soon after, the negative reports about his sexuality and legal problems resurfaced: He had begged us to "Just Leave Me Alone" and just "Beat It". Six years on, the troubles of this great entertainer continue to play and plague our human existence. Why don't we give him the peace and respect that he earned and deserved: It’s time we "Keep It in The Closet".
Every year, the world pauses in these times and these special hours of our week, in memory and remembrance of this once-in-a-lifetime legend. As we celebrate the beautiful artistic creativity he bequeathed us, I am privileged to thank MJ for being a "Thriller", for making "History and bouncing our sorrows "Off The Wall". Thanks for being beautifully "Bad", for reminding us that "We Are The World" and wanting us "Back" while encouraging all the human race to "Heal The World": for teaching us the ABCs and 123s of simple love and humility.. Michael, you were never "Dangerous "to us. You were and will forever remain our "Man in the Mirror". Your children have grown into “Pretty Young Things”. Rest on, MJ