The Magnitude of Michael Jackson

siwezi kuamini [i can't believe it] wala sina sauti ya kuongea. Lakini nitajaribu.

I am numbed by the news. Reading Anengiyefa's post helped me this morning.

His question nudged me to express a little, to process now that he is (supposedly) gone, the impact MJ had on my life. Here's a comment I left in response to his question:

Within seven minutes of my walking through the door from work, tired and starving. Having just washed my hands in the kitchen after popping some leftovers in the microwave - I had not eaten since breakfast. My husband walks out of the master bedroom, where he'd been watching the news, leans heavily on the interior balcony railing; and in a voice choked with emotion says "...Michael has died."

I was not hungry any more. Just sad. Really really sad.

Rock With You. That is the song that does it the most for me. The one that helps me remember things my soul wants to forget. Those things that make me who I am. Those occurences, the cockles that line my heart. Rock With You revives those memories, delivers them to the forefront of my brain, because they matter.

Because "...even when the groove is dead and gone, yeah, you know that love survives, so we can rock forever..."

Michael Jackson, Rest In Peace.

And then I read Rethabile's beautiful poem, and that helped as well.

Kifo cha Michael Jackson kimenishtuwa, wala sina sauti ya kuongea.

Mama Shujaa


  1. Hi Mama Shujaa, the outpouring of grief is worldwide and on a scale that is unprecedented for any African American, proof that MJ gave the world enjoyment of a kind that was unique. His music will live on forever. I take comfort in the fact that he is now in Heaven, free from the upheavel and the turmoil of the last few years of his life. May his soul rest in peace.

  2. Hamba khale, Michael, go gently. Siyabonga - thank you.

  3. MJ, thanks for the memories. No one did it better.

  4. I grew up with Michael and the Jackson Five, he inspired connection between people and fostered love as you do, Mama Shujaa. May you be comforted and may his creative spirit soar. <3

  5. Anengiyefa, Tessa, Tamaku and Cynthia - You know, when I heard the news, I could not speak, I felt like I had lost a family member.

    Thank you. I too take comfort that he is now in Heaven. We have now inherited his artistic legacy, his love for the world, all people.

  6. It is definitely a shock around the world. I'm still in shock really. Its surreal. I don't think their is anyone that his music hasn't touched or will not touch.

  7. Ms. Bar B: I agree and as Cynthia said may his creative spirit soar.

  8. I was shocked by the news too. I grew up watching the Jackson Five cartoon on TV and tried to copy the Moon Dance in school. I was dancing to his music Saturday night with a group of friends from many countries. Michael Jackson seemed like too much of a legend to be mortal. My thoughts are with you.

  9. Rest in Peace MJ.


  10. Thanks for your post Mama Shujaa. I've been struggling to define the emotions I felt when I heard the sad news. I know what you mean about MJ's songs reviving memories. I didn't realize how significant a part of my life he had been until June 25. As a tween I wanted to look like him with my huge afro, singing and dancing to "ABC". The soundtrack of my teenage and early adult life would be practially song-less without MJ. He also validates the importance of childhood and how our adult insecurities, fears, phobias are directly linked to childhood experiences (One of the reasons my passion is working with pre-schoolers and striving to make a positive difference in their lives). The immense joy MJ and his music brought to my life will in time overshadow the profound sadness I feel at the moment. As for the physical and emotional torment he went through - I prefer to believe he is now finally in total peace. Rest, MJ and thank you. Asante.

  11. Thanks for the beautiful post.

  12. Shiko-MSA and T. Allen-Mercado: Thank you.

  13. AO: So right you are about the importance of childhood, the physical and emotional torment he went through.

    What I would like to see is all of the entertainers coming together, putting resources together to pay off Neverland, turn it into a museum. Whatever it takes, the state should make it an historical site, use eminent domain, whatever!

    MJ, R.I.P.

  14. When my history is written, I want it noted that I lived in the time of Michael Jackson.

  15. Sarah: "...Michael Jackson seemed too much of a legend to be mortal." Love that! Thanks.

  16. There is nothing but Michael Jackson music on the radio in England! He left quite a legacy.

  17. His legacy of his astronomical talent will live forever.

  18. Kwa kweli ulivyoandika magnitude is just about the right word. MJ was a phenomenon....If the great Stevie Wonder wrote the soundtrack to the President's life I guess MJ did more than that because his reach spanned the globe and crossed the generations...we grew up to MJ stuff....but our kids took to him even better than we ever did.

    There will never be another MJ

  19. Bee: Good to see you hear! Great to hear that, and sales of his music are astronomical.

    Todd: Paz to you too and thanks for stopping by.

    Don: Asante sana kwa comment yako ndugu. Uko so right, there will never EVER be another MJ.

  20. Beautiful tribute. I, too, grew up listening to Michael and changing his lyrics when I did not understand them. It was a Cuban thing. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  21. I'm so glad you wrote this Mama,

    You've elucidated what i've been thinking on these last few days.

    My sister rang me at 6am in Siteki and said "I have very sad news" ... I thought the worst... and then I heard that it was Michael.

    I've heard some talk that he was 'just a singer' - i feel sorry for people that talk like that... how can we measure the value of art, of music... it burrows into our depths, kisses our roots in their clinging to the earth...

    Dwell always in the rhythm Michael,

    With love, Maithri

  22. ACIL: It was an Kenyan thing too...:-)

  23. Dear Maithri

    Welcome back from Siteki. So nice to see you hear so soon after your return. Thank you, you have now deepened the elucidation so beautifully!!

  24. Hey, Mama S. It's been awhile. I went to Cancun last week. Every evening, the resort put on cheesy, Vegas-like shows for its guests. The last night I was there, a Mexican dance troupe did a tribute to MJ. The MJ impersonator was stunning. The dancers performed MJ's moves to perfection. For a few moments, I lost myself in the memories formed by his songs. I had to hold back the tears because I didn't want to cry in my margarita in the middle of a show. I still cannot believe that he's gone. MJ was a genius


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