by Lenah Mochoele
book review by Lee Abel
Lucky Dube’s music touched millions of hearts worldwide, but very few souls had the opportunity to work with him professionally. For those who did, their lives were forever altered, elevated, and enriched. Fate smiled on Lenah Mochoele. She began working at Gallo Record Company, Lucky’s label, in 1995. She quickly worked her way from secretary to artist development/liaison, and finally to organizing tours and accompanying artists.
Her recently published book, “Walking A Mile In Your Shoes: My Spiritual Journey With Lucky Dube” provides a riveting view in to both her spiritual connection with Lucky as well as insights and stories about Lucky himself, from his struggles and joys to his convictions and logic.
Well written, personal, and deeply insightful, this book will be a welcome read for the fans who still bemoan the tragic loss of their beloved icon, as well as to those who had the privilege of knowing the man behind the legend. This is a deep book that will leave the reader feeling he/she has just had an enlightening encounter with the man who was Africa’s King of Reggae.
I travelled the continent with Lucky. Apart from the amazing crowds that he would move, his music would make you want to search your soul and correct any issues you might find hidden there. I cried a lot when he got on stage; I looked at his audience, made up mostly of the poorest of the poor. Lucky represented the masses. He had told me his story as a youth growing up in poverty, but nothing prepared me for his impact.–Lenah Mochoele
I recently caught up with Lenah, and we had a wonderful, engaging conversation, including this background on one of her poems.
Lee: Lenah, in chapter 9 you shared how you wrestled with your emotions when you heard about the murder on the morning of October 19th.
Lenah: I did not realize the whole world was also in a wrestle that morning, I was not alone. We all shared bullets for breakfast with Lucky’s family in the little corners of our hearts and minds.
Lee: And you wrote a poem?
Lenah: The Bullets For Breakfast poem carries a message still fresh to this day. The world was served grief in the form of bullets for breakfast that morning. For Lucky’s family, relatives, friends and his fans the world over, this poem figuratively captures a breakfast meal in the form of grief. You cannot eat bullets, but when bullets take life, the affected are served a free meal. Instead of enjoying a good breakfast, the world was forced to accept this untimely, unnecessary act of barbarism. A good life wasted by bullets.
Lee: Sounds like “Running Falling”.
Lenah: Yes, the poem relates to “Running Falling” from Lucky’s “House of Exile” album, where Lucky narrates in song form how the people of South Africa embrace the triumph of the power of good over evil. Figuratively, Lucky mentions that at hearing news that Apartheid was going, the oppressor man was running and falling, thinking that people would do to him what he did to them 400 years ago, he will look for his gun and to his surprise he found it empty because we, the people, ate the bullets for breakfast to rid the country of the evil system of Apartheid. Without the bullets, the people would enjoy peace. In Lucky’s philosophy of peace and love, for peace’s sake, we will do everything, even if it means eating bullets for breakfast.
BULLETS FOR BREAKFAST
by Lenah Mochoele
I had breakfast one unforgettable morning
Served to me forcefully
A breakfast I had to have no matter what
A breakfast different from any other
Special in its nature I had to eat it,
Forcefully as my throat suffered greatly to swallow This breakfast so special and yet so difficult Different presentation , but not new to me
I had had different breakfasts before
Served to me in the morning and I got acquainted To the different breakfasts life serves me
When the room service knock came
I tried to brush my teeth before the breakfast But then again I decided there was no need No need at all to brush your teeth
For this special breakfast I only am acquainted All I needed was to put my brace napkin
To make sure my breast and all that is in it
Is protected, covered in a napkin Like the soldiers cover themselves in
breast plate in a war
So do I cover my breast in a special napkin
A napkin trusted enough to protect the
Steel turned heart of this strong black woman For I only am acquainted to the special Breakfast, not so many people are invited to This napkin stays on my breast
Now that the girls have sucked
Each one of them, their last drop
Of the natural juices mother earth offered Pure in its form, it’s always been
Its reliability is unbelievable as
It always assures me, of how strong I am That no matter how strong the stain
From the breakfast, the beat goes on
As I approached my serving that morning I wasn’t sure what to expect
My last special breakfast
Looked cold, and unappetizing Complicated in its presentation
To this day I am still baffled
I had to approach the special serving anyway
Accepting an offering life served me, I could not refuse Accepting that life always serves me what I do not order I approached the breakfast anyway
When my special breakfast was served,
There was no one to whisper to, no one to scream to
To ask if indeed this was my breakfast
Landing straight, into my heart
No tea cold or warm
No dashing of a drink of sorts or straight, or on the rocks No buttered bread
No fried nor scrumbled eggs
Straight from my sleep
I had to eat my breakfast
Served on a platter, hard and cold, in a hotel room Room service it had to be, no starter no dersert Special I’ve always known that I was
The breakfast was over special
For I could not handle the honour
Of this particular special breakfast
What did you say again
Which Lucky are you talking about
As my special breakfast was getting into my system I got drunk from just the three bullets
So drunk my world was spinning
Spinning with confusion
Spinning with hate Spinning with fear Spinning with hurt Spinning with grief Spinning with pain Spinning with resentment
Bullets for breakfast
The bullets that still make my world spin
Bullets that kept me drunk for many years
Bullets that kept me addicted for many years Bullets that kept me obsessed for many years Bullets that kept me cold for many years
Bullets for breakfast
I hate you with a hate
I hate you with a hate from my heart,
liver, lungs, oesophagus, large intestines, small intestines, my blood, brain, hair, eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks , ears, neck, my feet, legs, my toes, nails and everything I am made of.
Bullets for breakfast I wish I could pee on you. Bullets for breakfast I wish I could fart on you, Bullets for breakfast I wish I could send you
To where you came from in the first place
For we don’t need you in Africa