Friday, October 19, 2007

Back in Paris, and on the passing of Lucky Dube

After nearly two weeks in Côte d’Ivoire that gave me the opportunity to interview presidential candidates, women’s advocates, cocoa workers, business executives and Force Nouvelles rebels (and go to one of the best reggae clubs I‘ve ever been to), I am now back in Paris and back online on a regular basis.

The much-heralded transit strike of recent days proved to be no more than a minor annoyance as my friend Gerry Hadden and I strolled around the city, checking out the Confédération générale du travail (CGT) march and interviewing protesters.

Some sad news reached me from South Africa today that the reggae star Lucky Dube was killed in an apparent carjacking attempt in Johannesburg last evening. Dube’s music was very popular among the young in some of the poorest quarters of Port-au-Prince, Haiti when I was living there for several years, and I often heard in pumping out of the boom box that my friend James Petit-Frere had during my visits to his home in Cité Soleil.

I had the opportunity to tell Dube this when I met him briefly at the Hotel Montana a few years back, when he was in Haiti to play a concert as the same time I was in the country reporting. He was very gracious in his response, as one could only expect from such a thoughtful advocate of conscious reggae, a genre that sometimes seems to be threatened with extinction by the onslaught of slackness and bling and the always hard road trod by the genuinely righteous.

“We've got to come together as one,” Dube sang in one of his most famous song. “The cats and the dogs have forgiven each other/What is wrong with us?”

Adieu, Lucky Dube. You were a shining star and you will be missed.

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