Win some, lose some – but keep the pas­sion

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za

It hap­pened to the silky soul singer Marvin Gaye, and now it is hap­pen­ing to Western Cape Premier He­len Zille. When Teddy Pen­der­grass sang “it’s so good, so good, so good … when some­body loves you back”, the line tore into Marvin’s heart.

Ac­cord­ing to the book Di­vided Soul by David Ritz, Marvin Gaye hated TP’s suc­cess.

He felt that the lat­ter had copied his look and then stole the scream­ing girls from him.

Marvin’s What’s Go­ing On was enor­mously suc­cess­ful, break­ing through the colour line and sell­ing well to white au­di­ences. His look was brave at the time be­cause he came from a more black-con­fi­dent sta­ble, Mo­town.

He was a breath of fresh air, and de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent to the typ­i­cal clean-shaven Ne­gro en­ter­tainer.

His sub­se­quent al­bum, Let’s Get It On, also brought him the scream­ing girls.

TP, com­ing from ri­val sta­ble The Sound of Philadel­phia, also grew a beard, but the girls did not only scream for him, they also threw their panties at him while tears rolled down their cheeks.

Un­for­tu­nately for Marvin, who was more of a record­ing artist than a per­former, his crowds be­came smaller.

His big­gest prob­lem was that he didn’t en­joy what he was do­ing be­cause he had ac­tu­ally wanted to sing gospel, but the money and the girls were on the other side.

When he finally caught up with the rowdy crowds, he dis­cov­ered that there was a hol­low­ness in his soul, which led to a life of drug abuse and a bro­ken fam­ily. He even­tu­ally died by his own fa­ther’s hand.

When Zille tweeted that “not ev­ery­thing about colo­nial­ism was bad”, she was deal­ing with her own con­science, be­cause she knows that she aban­doned a greater ideal for a life of scream­ing and shout­ing – a life called pol­i­tics.

As a jour­nal­ist, she un­cov­ered the story of Steve Biko’s death, which tight­ened the noose on the apartheid gov­ern­ment.

She was in the Black Sash, and so knows more than most that the apartheid colo­nial ju­di­ciary was any­thing but in­de­pen­dent.

She knows all this be­cause her own party, the DA, was founded by the son of Judge Ra­mon Leon, who was nick­named the “hang­ing judge” be­cause he was an ar­dent en­forcer of apartheid in­jus­tice.

Her tweet sug­gests that Zille can’t be­lieve that she spent the sec­ond part of her life pro­tect­ing priv­i­lege af­ter a youth­ful life of fight­ing for the un­der­dog.

She worked in the cor­ri­dors through which the ti­tans walked, but, un­like peo­ple such as the late Donald Woods, who also wrote about Biko and be­came part of South Africa’s his­tory, she will be­come no more than a foot­note in its bib­li­og­ra­phy.

Sorry, He­len, it was not the Bri­tish who in­vented san­i­ta­tion and wa­ter sup­ply – that in­ge­nu­ity is cred­ited to the Bronze Age In­dus Valley Civil­i­sa­tion, which ex­tended from what is to­day north­east Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest In­dia.

When you are fac­ing the twi­light of your ca­reer, as Zille is, and a voice in­side you asks if this is all there is at the end of all such toil, do not despair.

Af­ter an ac­ci­dent that con­fined him to a wheel­chair, Teddy Pen­der­grass cre­ated a beau­ti­ful song called In My Time, in which he sings: “I’ve won some and I’ve lost some/ But us dream­ers don’t com­plain/ We keep reach­ing out for pas­sion/ No mat­ter what the pain.”

If there is any­thing that we can learn from peo­ple such as Zille and Gaye, it is to fol­low our pas­sion and never cross the line, be­cause the prize on the other side is an ice cream tro­phy – you have to gob­ble it up quickly or it will in­vari­ably cre­ate a mess. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive,

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