Pulse: Presidential pitch perfect: The musical lives of our leaders
There is power in a song and the powerful men in this world have come to know it. When, if they are chanting for freedom or praising for joy, our leaders sing or rap, it helps create a buzz as they demystify themselves to be just like us.
The songs might be inspired by different situations such as Julius Malema who shows his true colours when he sings a provocative song, Shoot the Boer.
Though this saw him rub shoulders the wrong way with the law as the outspoken former president of South Africa’s ANC Youth League, song made the defiant leader so popular that he soon became the voice of the people.
The other day we saw South Africa’s ex-president, Jacob Zuma strike a recording deal, which will see him record a whole album on his liberation struggles.
The former president is known for his good rendition of struggle songs such as Awuleth’ Umshini Wami - the revolutionary song that became synonymous with his tribulations - and the anthemic Thina sizwe esimnyama, sikhalela umhlaba wethu owathathwa amabhunu. Mabawuyeke umhlaba wethu, a reference to the land taken by Afrikaners.
The project will be part of the eThekwini’s integrated development plan to stimulate economic growth through music, sports or cultural activities.
Although this has been slammed as wasting public resources, the fact remains that the singing former president is set to show us his true musical side through hitting the note.
Uganda president Yoweri Museveni while addressing a rally of youth supporters during his campaign sometime in 2010, went ahead and explained that he had recently learned about the black African roots of hip-hop music.
A few days later, while formally launching his re-election campaign at another rally, he offered a repeat performance. “You want another rap?” asking the massive crowd in Central Kampala to join in.
A local music producer captured the phrase, added a backing track and mixed in a reply to the question that invokes the president’s vernacular nickname. “Yes, Sevo!” And there was Museveni with a would-be award-winning hit song.
He used the ‘Yes Ssebo’ rap song as a campaign hit that he used to woo young voters to rally behind him. And he won the race.
In 2016 after hosting a number of Ugandan musicians for a dinner date in State House, Museveni released another rap. The hilarious Afro-beat fussed track that features female soloists in the interlude is still available today.
And last year he hosted Kanye West and Kim Kardashian who were in Uganda for a shoot. Could a collabo be coming? Well, we just wait for this power collabo.
During the Christmas festivities Nigeria’s president Buhari and his music trio, which comprised of his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo and APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomole shared a video of their classic “We wish you a Merry Christmas” song rendition.
Although it was a little scruffy and somehow off-key the trio showed that they could break a beat and sing. What a power trio!
This one most definitely takes the first spot as his charismatic and easy-going side has been witnessed on several occasion where he just lets it loose and belts a verse or two.
On one occasion he decided to pay a small tribute to the legendary Al Green by singing the opening line of Let’s Stay Together. He showed total ease with a high tenor line, sensitive and very much in tune.
Even more impressive, he was actually singing in the exactly correct key of the original recording, suggesting there might be something resembling perfect pitch (or at least great intuition) in his musical arsenal.
Perhaps his most poignant performance was his rendition of Amazing Grace that came at a difficult and emotional time for the USA - the memorial service of Clementa Pinckney. Undaunted but clearly emotional, he opened the song up to huge cheers.