Funeral disc for sale – who will buy it?
I know everything about this post is weird. Sure, we don’t expect to see anyone advertising funeral CDs for sale. I am not talking about selling to immediate family or some of the extended family members. I mean selling to the Public, to people the deceased never knew. I don’t mean a small crowd of fans. I write about a multitude of people well distributed throughout the world, among the deceased’s critics, his enemies and of course, his friends.
Having attended quite a few services held in honor of the deceased, I have observed certain trends manifesting themselves in this part of the world: First, there is the spending of heavy, wasteful, generous, and mostly extravagant money that was often not available to the deceased when he was alive. In Nigeria, to be precise, we quantify the value of the deceased by how much we can spend on their funerals and therefore waste money on everything from caskets to food. Some children of deceased people take out loans to perform funeral ceremonies! Many spend more than they earn in years! The second observation is the hypocritical “respect” accorded to the dead. People say nice things about them and pretend to be good people even when those people were social evildoers.
But guess that? This post is a call to YOU to think about your funeral. I am not praying that it will arrive soon. However, I must remind you that it will surely come one day, any day. I write because whatever people decide to say about you, it won’t change who you really were. And history has a way of remembering things. History remembers Hitler. I definitely remember Lamidi Adedibu, the Basorun Gaa of Ibadan Land. I also remember the late General Sani Abacha and no amount of post hummus awards given to him will change my image of him.
I know I have delivered the conclusion before the story. The inspiration for this post is actually the memorial service held in honor of Michael Jackson. I was surprised to hear that a dead man was receiving the kind of care he had received that day. Watching it live had an estimated population of between six hundred million and one billion people! That’s like saying that one in ten people in the world quit their job to witness a service honoring a dead man! Thousands of responsible people fought for passes to be inside the Stapples Center. Others stayed in churches and public places to view the projected images. Other than Nelson Mandela, I don’t know of any other living person who can attract that kind of attention in death.
And that’s not counting the number of memorial service CDs that have been sold. I’m sure the number runs into the millions. In Nigeria alone, I know that the DVD show has been pirated by about 3 different computers. Know what that says about sales. For most of the people I know who own the DVD (including me), it is something you watch almost every day. Wait a minute. Am I confessing that I watch a memorial service regularly? It is very simple. Besides the musical value of that show, there is something else …
It is the story of a man of influence, a person who has touched lives. A musician who has entertained himself to limits unreachable for anyone before him. It is a story of hard work, perseverance, devotion, love, respect and the utmost desire to make the world better. It is not a story of perfection, in fact it is a story tainted with terrible and almost unforgivable facts such as accusations of child abuse and change from white to black. But even those don’t eliminate the fact that Michael Jackson was a blessing to the world. From his life, I have the following points:
1. Enjoy life: Michael loved every minute of his performances. He loved to sing and dance. He spent his life doing what he loved to do. If he had been a doctor or a preacher (which are very respectable occupations), he could have been very good. But he wouldn’t have gotten as much satisfaction as he did with music. I think this is a great lesson for us in Nigeria. For many young people, JAMB or college admissions boards determine what they will become in life. Nobody takes you seriously if you want to be a musician or a tailor or a hairdresser … In my 100 days at the level, I was in one of the most respectable departments in the school. The problem was that I found it extremely boring and pointless. Needless to say, I got out fast. Today I do not regret it.
2. Start early (or start now): Michael started at 5. When he starts early enough, he will have time to get to the top. If age is no longer on your side, start fast anyway. You may still have enough time to make an impact.
3. Be the best: It is great to have talent, but talent is not enough. Michael practiced for 18 hours every day! No wonder he was the best. Was he a genius? I’m not so sure. Maybe even my body, which constantly refuses to align with any rhythm, could do the moonwalk if I tried it for 18 hours every day of the year!
4. Heal the world – it’s great to make money. But whatever you do, you add more to the world than you will get out of it. In the end, it will count for more. Help the defenseless. Be of service to your community. Be nice to everyone.
5. Take good care of your family: Do you know something that really touched me about this guy? Their children. They had been kept out of the public eye because, like a wise parent, Michael didn’t want them to be exposed to the problems of being famous for something they never worked for. Obviously, he was close to them (his daughter called him the ‘best dad in the world’, and apparently he wasn’t lying). His brothers and sisters were also very close to him. Love was obvious in that family.
6. Be humble: In the words of one of the speakers, Michael was “the greatest and greatest entertainer who ever lived.” I’m pretty sure Michael never fully took it in, because if he had, he wouldn’t have had the caliber of the artists who spoke about him at his funeral. It was obvious that he hadn’t been snobbish or haughty with them, although he was better and more famous. Just that kind of attitude would bring celebrities young and old together to honor a man. No matter how cool you are, there are some things you need others to do for you. They will be willing if you are humble.