Names and music totems: Tina in US and Tanzanian pop music

07Sep 2020
Michael Eneza
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Names and music totems: Tina in US and Tanzanian pop music

​​​​​​​ONE of the most surprising of basic psychology data types is that names have an impact on character or they can even contribute to how one lives, examples being taken from scripture, not just from literature, that one lives in a manner that is suggested by his name.

Dar es Salaam's The Bambazi Band's vocalists in action at the launch of Waluguru Original Music Band's album, titled 'Kikao cha Wahenga', which took place at Terminal Pub in Morogoro recently. PHOTO; CORRESPONDENT SABATO KASIKA

It is not easy to find numerous cases where such claims are made but the fact that a few are actually given is sufficient to lay a case that names are not just labels we carry in life, and even then to a few people.

Most of the time during the day, when people pass in the streets, board buses or ‘bodaboda,’ do some shopping or sell goods their names will never come up.

Names come up in surroundings of work or home, and occasionally in procedural matters like when one makes a transaction that requires a stamp, a signature and thus an identity card, where the name is just a formality.

Names matter to those who are dear to the person, and it is on this basis that the music comes up, that from different sources a particular name is attached with certain aspects of character, not good or bad but just a specific disposition.

It means names have owners, and their character is visible in their use.

That is why listening to some music numbers of the past and then comparing how the principal romantic or sentimental characters feature in two singles from completely unrelated areas like the United States and then Tanzania, this rule quickly comes to mind.

Of the two songs, the US pop number had countless youth enthusiasts in that country and elsewhere, as it was a number that more or less set them free from the rule that adolescents learn from their parents, school and houses of worship.

It relates to linking one’s sentimental affinities or any such links with proper devotion, like a marriage proposal, so it is called love.

Anything short of that is merely a liking of another person, and less sympathetic description will say it merely amounts to lust, which is not the same thing as liking someone else.

In liking someone there is an obvious possibility that the relationship can climb higher to become a serious sentimental affinity, and in that sense, a moral engagement that cannot be wished away too simply once it is solicited and obtained.

It ties up the one soliciting for affection, as that means there is an engagement entered into, and for keeps.

With youths leaving home at a fairly young age once they attain legal maturity and can thus hire rooms or stay in campus-based housing or attached to a campus while studying, and as a rule having collective outings or evenings they often call ‘parties,’ observing this rule started posing.

Those who insist on that rule started being qualified as conservatives or elderly, while the youths were outgoing and as a rule they had other helpers, teaching them the proper management of such affinities to avoid problems.

Unwanted pregnancies are what to avoid, but later of course the whole scare of AIDS changed the picture.

Looking at the two songs, one is an exposition of the rule of separating momentary happiness from hearty issues of having found someone to love, a song put up by Tina Turner in 1984, while the other was issued by local legend, Mbaraka Mwinshehe, around 1971 by some records.

The two songs are sufficiently in contrast but that does not mean the two artistes different sufficiently in their sentiments, as Tina Turner had another song quite similar to Mbaraka’s ‘Tina Njoo Turudiane,’ in ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose You.’

The lyrics ‘what’s love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?’ can be said to relate to the local Tina.

The US singer more or less implied it is the girl’s heart which is likely to be broken, but in Mbaraka’s number it is the guy who is begging the girl to come back, it is his heart that is broken, and it is possible that the girl or young woman had complaints, but it is she who broke a heart.

The fact that Tina as a woman is the one who sang the lyrics does not make it automatic that it is hearts of women which usually get broken, as Mbaraka shows otherwise.

The likes of Tina may leave at short notice not of being told to leave but of feeling bad; in sentimental affinities feeling bad is next to unavoidable.

It thus implies that there is something in Tina Turner which slights having a heart, admitting she has none.

That is how one learns without surprise in meeting a Tina somewhere and starting a friendship, and then notices that there is no ‘heart’ in the matter, that this intimation is boring to the point of being a routine.

Or perhaps what it means is that like most girls, a Tina develops a heart for affinity a bit slowly, much so.

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