1) EVERYTHING · 3) THOUGHTS

Weeping

Ah, a Daily Post prompt that actually inspires me. I didn’t go to school today, so I’ve all the time in the world to post and peruse blogs…never mind that I also have a daunting pile of homework refusing to go unnoticed, no matter how hard I try to ignore it.

Anyway, the prompt is

“You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?”

And the first thing that comes to mind is undoubtedly “Weeping” by Bright Blue, a South African 80s band. I would expect few people outside of South Africa to know it well, if at all, but as someone who was born there and grew up with the culture from my parents, I was raised on the song. Every time my dad breaks out his guitar (which is less and less frequently these days) that’s one of the first songs that comes pouring forth.

I always understood that it was a very sad song, and that the “monster” must mean something else, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I was old enough to get what it was really about. To me it was just a song we all knew. I wasn’t aware that it was distinctly South African. (The song + video are at the end of the post).

The song protests apartheid, the black and white segregation that prevailed for the better half of the 20th century in SA. It alludes to P.W. Botha, the country’s president in the 80s, who declared a State of Emergency during which many, many, Black peaceful protesters were killed, while claiming to the rest of the world that it was necessary. It also features Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika, the country’s national anthem, in the background. This used to be the anthem of the African National Congress (who was in direct opposition to the government at the time), and any rendition of it was illegal during this time. For some reason, though, Weeping was never banned, and DJs took full advantage of it, playing it on radio stations all over the country. It was the most popular song in the country for some time.

 

Alright, history lesson over. I decided to analyse it last year in English so I know a lot about its meaning. But like I said, as a kid, I knew none of these things. It was just a song, a sad song, we all knew. And it’s what comes to mind when I’m asked about memorised lyrics.

 

Here is the song, from memory:

I knew a man, who lived in fear
It was huge, it was angry,
It was drawing near

Behind his house, a secret place,
Was the shadow of a demon he could never face
He built a wall, of steel and flame
And men with guns to keep it tame

And standing back, he made it plain
That the nightmare would never ever rise again
Yet the fear and the fire and the guns remain

Chorus:

It doesn’t matter now, it’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came down, I heard it’s lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring it was weeping

And then one day, the neighbours came
They were curious to see about the smoke and the flames
They stood around, outside the wall
But of course there was nothing to be heard at all

“My friends,” he said, “We’ve reached our goal
“The threat is under firm control
As long as peace and order reign, I’ll be damned if I can find a reason to explain
Why the fear, and the fire and the guns remain.”

It doesn’t matter now, it’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came down, I heard it’s lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring it was weeping

It doesn’t matter now, it’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came down, I heard it’s lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring it was weeping

It wasn’t roaring it was weeping….

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Weeping

  1. Thanks for that post. While I know the chunk of South African history that revolved around Nelson Mandela, I’d never heard ot the song. Bravo on keeping in touch with your South African roots and not completely assimilating into the American teenage hive mind.

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