Although Philip Lucky Dube has left this crazy world, he is always remembered. Dube was gunned down on October 18, 2007. His untimely death will always brings heartbreaking memories. He was unjustly assassinated while the world still needed him to preach peace, freedom for all human beings. He was gunned down in the presence of his son and daughter, whom he had dropped off in Rosettenville, Johannesburg in what is assumed to be a car hijacking crime.
Although the Rastafarians in Jamaica do not believe in death, it is difficult for me to follow that tradition and simply state that, ‘Him just pass through’, and even Dube himself, in his first reggae album, sang that ‘Rastas Never Die’. But I hope this is irony.
Lucky Dube was one of the best musicians who advocated for inter-racial harmony and Black consciousness via his songs. This was due to what he had experienced during the South African apartheid. Despite the fact that his music is associated with the Rastafarians, a movement which is invariably linked to the smoking of ganja, he was exceptional as he never drank or smoked. The death of Lucky Dube's death depicts how much criminality disregards human life. And this because South Africa is well known in criminality despite the great efforts the police deploy to hinder such evil. Besides, I cannot find the right words that can adequately express such a monstrous and ugly barbaric conduct. Dube was named Lucky by his mother after several miscarriages. She considered his birth as fortunate. Lucky's father had separated from his mother. Life hardship pushed him to be working as a gardener before he reached the age of 10. His aim was to support his family income that was not at all sufficient.
On the other hand, he noticed that he was earning little money. This caused him to start going to school where he began to learn English. And it was during his school days that he joined his first band, The Skyway Band which played mbaqanga music. At the age of 18, after leaving school, he joined the Love Brothers Band while he was also working as a security guard for Hole and Cooke Security Company in Midrand. His first break came when he was signed by Teal Record Company with the Supersoul Band.
During this period, Lucky Dube recorded five albums and toured within South Africa and the region as a backing singer for Steve Kekana. For the period of the live performances, he noted that fans were responding positively to reggae. He went back to the drawing board and took inspiration from Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh whose socio-political messages about Jamaica, he deemed relevant to the South African racist society. In 1984, Lucky Dube made the decision to use reggae as his genre of music and released his first reggae album known as ‘Rastas Never Die’.
In fact, this reception seemed a little bit mild as he only sold 4 000 copies, but the follow-up album, 'Think About The Children' released in 1985 was an instant hit as it achieved platinum sales status. This, straight away put Lucky Dube on the international map and established him as South Africa's biggest reggae artist. However, we find that for the next five years, Lucky toured Holland, Australia,the UK, America, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and many more other countries. He also appeared at the 1991 Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica where even the originators of reggae had recognised his strength and talent in that genre of music. In this way, he was attracting more and more supporters worldwide.
The international popularity of Dube brought him hatred among some individuals. Although it was widely reported that he was a victim of a hijacking crime, there are several unanswered questions. Since we were told he was shot dead in a horrendous criminal act, we still cannot understand why his car not taken away and the reason why was nothing stolen from him at that time. The question is what is the truth behind his shooting. Dube’s murderers are the only people up to know who can provide us relevant responses to all these questions.
Most musicians such as late Bob Marley and Peter Tosh of Jamaica, when writing songs, tended to relate more with the suffering and impoverished masses. Equal Rights and Justice, Blackman Redemption and Zimbabwe are examples of songs which support this thinking. In Zimbabwe the likes of Dr Thomas Mapfumo churned out songs such as Pfumvu pa Ruzevha, Corruption and Zimbabwe ya Vatema which all identify with the downtrodden masses.
The more all these artists were growing popular and favoured, at the same time, they were becoming potential and easy targets for anyone who did not agree with the messages they were spreading across the world. This appears to be what happened in Lucky Dube's case. His award winning albums such as Slave, Prisoner, Together As One and Respect made Lucky Dube one of the world's leading reggae icons and also an easy target. Thus, five guys were arrested in connection with his murder and two tried to escape but were caught. However, the men were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009 because capital punishment has been abolished in South Africa.
To commemorate his death, "Retrospective", a compilation album was released in October, 2008. Death is one aspect of life modern technology has failed to improve on. Despite man's efforts to defeat death, we have all failed in that area. Believe it or not, everyone has to go at some point. Decease is the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose peace and whose refuge are for all; the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the hatred.
I believe so far that it is particularly heartbreaking and troublesome when the one we love dearly has departed from this earth. In this way, Lucky Dube was loved by millions of his fans scattered throughout the world. Actually, he was a real performer, singer and songwriter, musician, freedom fighter and a leading reggae star in Africa and the rest of the world. He will be sadly missed. Dube, wherever you are go on singing reggae to the people over there and may your soul rest in peace.