AKA recently surprised his fans with another retro inspired classic titled ‘Caiphus Song’, the single takes motivation from Caiphus Semenya’s all-time classic – Matswale. On the song, AKA pens a message to his better half reflecting on some of the challenges they are dealing with in their relationship journey. The song delivers a laid back groove, with new elements which make this song a complete sing-along and wedding-dance jam.
But for single out I thought I would reflect on the ntate Caiphus Semenya’s classic – Matswale, as I share some thoughts that have run through my mind as I have listened to the song over the years.
I have always found it sad that the singer is actually a victim of a psychologically abusive relationship. And yet somehow he is actually apologising while acknowledging that Naledi is in the wrong. Think about it. The singer is explaining his behaviour to his mother-in-law. Saying he spoke harshly to Naledi because she has changed.
So clearly Naledi packed her bags and went back home, after a heated exchange. But the chorus, a vocable of despair (Iyho, iyho, iyhi, iyho ,motse waka oa thubega), hints at the issues having been around for a long time. Hence he actually believes that his marriage is on the rocks. So one wonders why he left things for so long, without escalating them to his in-laws. But on the other hand you have to ask at what point would society have labelled him a cry-baby for running to his mother-in- law every time he and Naledi had issues?
Yes, yes I accept that Naledi never tells us her side of the story.
But what I really find sad is the fact that the singer is in a marriage in which he is bitterly unhappy with his wife’s behaviour. He deems Naledi’s conduct unbecoming for some who calls themselves the singer’s wife. And yet he is the one apologising (Ke fositse ke nnete, ka mmoisa botlhoko Batho ba cabana ba boa ba tswarelane)?
The other thing is, why is the singer addressing the matter with his mother in law? Where is Naledi’s father, and why is he not taking the lead on this matter? One would expect the uncles who presided over the lobola proceedings to take some part in managing this reconciliatory discussion. Surely they have a duty to provide counselling when the couple have problems. Well traditionally that is the protocol one expects both parties to observe (malome maja dihlogo).
Perhaps Naledi’s mother chose to handle the issue herself. Because what she says goes. That is the real reason why Rra Naledi doesn’t utter a word. For the mere fact that singer finds himself needing to partake I’m such. Or even make a passionate plea for help to his mother-in-law is a symptom of abuse, albeit psychological.
Why would he take it on all to himself when he himself believe that the Naledi he married is not the Naledi he is living with (Naledi o ntlhanogetse). Why would he apologise when he believes that Naledi has some blame to shoulder.
You see I am no social worker. But among the most common reasons why people who are abused stay in an abusive relationship is the “the children”, “financial dependence” and I am pretty sure “love” is a one of the main reasons why people stay. Because the abuser creates a dependence.
There is no question that the singer loves Naledi (Mma motse waka, mogatsake Kemo rata ka pelo yaka kaofela). Or else he would not go these lengths to save his relationship with someone who clearly decided not to make an effort to save the marriage. The only reason why he even beg his his mother-in-law’s despondence (Mme matswale, oseke wa mfuralla, Mme matswale, oseke wa nkherula) is because he is in love.
But the reality is a man without his dignity is like a black man without his paranoia, unproductive. Therefore though society might have the expectation that a man needs to love his wife and give up everything. Can he really be a man when he is without his dignity? Perhaps he still is a man. Rra Naledi is there letting his wife defend his own child. There is definitely no dignity in that.
But the question is what happens when a man loves his wife the way society expects, and gives up everything … and yet the wife does not love him back? Ala Naledi. And I know I have no evidence that Naledi does not love him back. But her behaviour implies her marriage isn’t a priority to her (Naledi o ntlhanogetse Ga robale lapeng, iyho o robala nageng). So what happens then?
As much as the singer is committed to Naledi. I wonder what is his love worth? It’s almost like that tree that falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it. Does it make sound? I don’t know.
What I do know is the singer sounds desperately in love with someone who isn’t at least committed to him. It almost sounds like he cannot see himself existing without Naledi. And that sounds like abuse to me.
All round still a brilliant song. Please listen to it with different ears, because I might just be hearing things.
Just a thought
The tempest prognosticator