Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lucky Dube, RIP

If you have never heard of South African reggae star Lucky Dube, then I am sincerely sorry- in my opinion, he was the greatest advocate of the freedom philosophy in music since at least Bob Marley. In some ways, I (a devout fan of Marley) think Lucky's music had more of an effect on my thought than Marley's.

Sadly, Lucky Dube was shot and killed last week in a carjacking attempt in Johannesburg, South Africa- by the very types of people he dedicated his life to fighting through his music. If you have never listened to him, you can listen to some short samples here, or check out his song lyrics here. What made him particularly powerful was that his advocacy of freedom did not change one bit after apartheid fell- he was every bit as opposed to racism against white people post-Apartheid as he was opposed to racism by white people during apartheid. There is also a strong undercurrent in his songs- both pre-and post-apartheid - that government is more often the cause of problems than the solution. This isn't to say Lucky Dube was a libertarian (I'm not sure he ever even heard of libertarianism), or even would agree with libertarians on a lot of important things (though "Taxman" is as libertarian a song as they come). But the underlying message of his music was one that was profoundly at the heart of a true libertarian philosophy: self-reliance, personal responsibility, a deep respect for others, a love of life, and a rejection of force. He also had some extremely personal songs about children, family, and love that are as beautiful and emotional as you will ever come across. Put another way, Lucky Dube's music is

as human and unselfish a portrayal of the freedom philosophy as you will ever find. The world is a little less bright without him.

Just a few of his most libertarian-ish songs included:

"Taxman", a song that talks about the government as legalized theft, and, in a sad coincidence, contains the lines "I pay for the police/To err..I don' t know why/'Cause if my dollar was good enough/There wouldn' t be so much crime/In the streets".

"Affirmative Action", about the tendency of people to look for government to save them rather than educate themselves and actually work for a living.

"Feel Irie", (NOTE: the "bother?" in the link should read "part of") about the fact that life is tough, but we shouldn't feel as if somehow others are immune to troubles; instead, people have it within themselves to make their own happiness. This includes two of my favorite lines of all time: "People had troubles since the Pope was an altar boy/People had worries from when the Dead Sea was only critical".

"Is This Freedom?" and "Mickey Mouse Freedom", about the false perception of freedom that results from replacing one form of particularly nefarious oligarchy with another.

"House of Exile", a particularly beautiful song the exact meaning of which I find difficult to express.

"Life in the Movies"- a post-apartheid song that includes the phrase: "Don't steal, the police hate competition."

"Sleeping Dogs Lie"- a song about the importance of individual happiness, and the need to let other people be happy. Includes a tale of tolerance and acceptance towards gays- a rarity in the reggae world, not to mention subsaharan Africa.