We are the living dead: a tribute to Daev
The tragic death of Daev, one of Zambia’s most creative and talented singers, in a road traffic accident is a devastating loss. I am terribly sad for Zambia. We have lost a huge talent. Daev had his unique gentle way of singing – he actually could sing, as unlike the majority of “musicians” these days. Most importantly, Daev demonstrated that freedom of expression is a powerful right. When fully owned and expressed, it has potential to change the world.
There is an important lesson from the death of Daev. We know this musician today and are mourning his death because he expressed himself; he did not end up singing in his shower or church, or some other private space. Depending on how we live our life, it is only when we die that we become truly immortal. We are resurrected by other people through our creative works.
Daev knew that it is not enough for one to have a talent. One must apply it publicly or in ways that enhance the lives of others. He used his talent to give himself to the public in a permanent form, even at his young age. He created a record, a permanent record. 50 or 200 years from now, what evidence would exist that show that we once lived? This idea of life on a safe side, of not offending, of being on the “right” side, is incredibly stupid.
Some would say my legacy is my children. But it is not enough to have children because they are their own people. Nobody bothers about children unless they are the children of Kenneth Kaunda, but nobody cares about the children of Kaunda’s children. Who knows the children of Panji Kaunda, for instance?
We must take life a little bit more serious in this country of my birth and refuse to celebrate mediocrity or incompetence as a virtue. We must create. Humanity is about creating. And what is the value of creativity if it is not being shared?
There ought to be something that we live for beyond the routines of life that are created by other people for us: wake up, eat, go to the toilet, go to work, fight for hierarchy or power, have sex, drink beer, produce children, and die. But there is no creative agency to these things. Many of them are biological, with very little creative input from us. The true legacy of human beings is their creative works, publicly shared. That is how individuals like Jesus Christ or Karl Marx made their name and how their works, because they were publicly shared, remain a mark for generations. There were many people in the time of Christ or Marx who were intelligent, but they did not express themselves in permanent form. They did not write. They did not publish. They did not sing. They did not design. They did not…That is why we don’t know anything or much about them.
Argh, today’s Zambia disgusts me, sometimes. Many of us are not living meaningfully. We are just there, occupying spaces, breathing free air, fitting in routine roles. What are we giving to the world that is distinctively us? What are we expressing in some permanent form? It is our expressive thoughts either through our music, artworks, or literary works that show the essence of our value to the world. It is the only lasting proof that we once lived. The future belongs to creators, because when we all die and someone in the future wants to know something about 2020, they would turn to the outward expressions of our thoughts, to the thoughts of those who lived in this moment and shared their creations publicly.
There is something about creative works that give of us. But we are so hostile to thinking or to those who think, who create, and share their output publicly that we would rather shut them up. This is why we ended up worshiping other people’s God. Come to think of it, the Bible is simply a collection of novels. If we do not express ourselves, we run the risk of extinction. Those who try to prohibit those who give outward expression to what they think, to who we are, are actually a threat to our future. What is distinctive about us? That is why we get offended by a few people who express themselves.
Let us offend. Publicly. Let us disturb. Let us confront. Let us retain the innocence of children. It is a mistake to lose that innocence and gag ourselves unnecessarily. We have become way too comfortable with the purposeless lives we lead. In one sense, we are the living dead. In the entire nation, very few contribute or create anything that will outlast us. We have not developed as a country, as individuals or continent, because the heavy lifting is left to a few. There ought to be more to life, but we have settled for being all round irrelevant, waiting to die. That is a very sad way to live, to die.
May Daev rest in power. It remains my conviction that the relevance of death lies in its impact on those that live.