Of Sleepless Nights, Alarms, and Songs; A Musing and Reflection About Today’s Historic Ruling

30 Mar


We are now less than 3 hours away from the Supreme Court rendering an historic decision in the petition by Prime Minister Raila Odinga and AfriCog seeking to nullify the bogus results announced by the obviously compromised IEBC that Uhuru won the presidency in the March 4, 2013 election when he, in fact, did not win or even come close.

I ordinarily do not use an alarm to get up but given the odd hour it would have been in the US at the earliest time I thought the US could announce the results at home, and given the sleepless nights this week closely following events back home while trying to catch-up with other matters, I did set an alarm to wake me up.

As is not too infrequently the case, the alarm did not go off as it was not set right.

However, I was woken up with an entirely unexpected means and that’s waking up to a song playing in my mind and the song was “By the Rivers of Babylon” by Boney M.

I immediately woke up and dashed downstairs to my office to find out whether I had slept away during the most historic moment of our time but fortunately, it was only just after 7am Kenya time and the Court had obviously not rendered its decision.

Knowing the justices were to give at least a 2 hour notice to the lawyers before rendering the decision and having confirmed this had not been done, I went back to sleep but this time made sure the alarm was set right for at least two hours later.

When I woke up the second time, I found myself thinking about the song that basically woke me up the first time.

This is, of course, a song many of us who were of age to appreciate music in late 70s when it was very popular know very well and still brings back memories of those days when I hear it.

I last listened to the song just a few days ago in my usual perusing through my zilizopendwas.

Now, even though I can hum some of the lyrics of the song, I have never really known in totality what the song is all about but had a general idea.

In the context of why it woke me up, I tried to ask myself is there any meaning to this?

So, to answer that question, I went to where we all go in search of answers or where others go in breathlessly trying and hoping to find dirt or unfavorable things about their enemies and that’s Google.

I wanted to know the full meaning of this song and this is what I found in a Wikipedia entry:

The song is based on the Biblical Psalm 137:1-4, a hymn expressing the yearnings of the Jewish people in exile following the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BC:[1] Previously the Kingdom of Israel, after being united under Kings David and Solomon, was split in two, with the Kingdom Of Israel in the north, conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC which caused the dispersion of 11 of the 12 tribes of Israel. The southern Kingdom of Judah (hence the name Jews), home of the tribe of Judah and part of the Tribe of Levi, was free from foreign domination until the Babylonian conquest to which Rivers Of Babylon refers.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion… They carried us away in captivity requiring of us a song… Now how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

The namesake rivers of Babylon are the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The song also has words from Psalm 19:14:[2]

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight…

It is one of a few pop songs whose lyrics come directly from the Bible (See also Turn! Turn! Turn! by Pete Seeger, 40 by U2, and The Lord’s Prayer by Sister Janet Mead). The melody bears a strong resemblance to “How Dry I Am“.

In the Rastafarian faith, the term “Babylon” is used for any governmental system which is either oppressive or unjust. In Jamaica, Rastafarians also use “Babylon” to refer to the police, often seen as a source of oppression because they arrest members for the use of marijuana (which is sacramental for Rastafarians). Therefore, “By the rivers of Babylon” refers to living in a repressive society and the longing for freedom, just like the Israelites in captivity. Rastafarians also identify themselves as belonging to the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

The Supreme Court decision is a test of whether we have gone past and continue to move as far away from an unjust or repressive government system or whether we have not and are headed back to that system.

This, in my view, is the meaning of my having been woken up with this song.

My hope and prayer, obviously, is that the historic decision the Supreme Court renders today pushes us further away from and not to return to the oppressive and unjust government of the past.

God bless our beloved country.

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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Politics


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