According to Wikipedia, the term “Prequel” is a 20th-century neologism that is a hybrid of the prefix “pre-” from the Latin word “prae”, which means “before”, and the word “sequel”.
What does that means, you ask?
Well in simple terms a prequel is a work that forms part of a backstory to the preceding work, by focusing on events that occur before the original narrative.
About a year ago, I saw a spoof video posts on Instagram by the award winning comedian Mashabela Galane. It was kind of a comedic appreciation of the song, as only he would know how. I knew I liked the song, but I couldn’t quite make out much about it. It wasn’t until a few months ago while doing an iTunes search for another song by the mellifluously smooth Preston “Presss” Sihlangu that I stumbled across the song again, quite by chance, I must say.
Taken off his August 2017 album Evolution of Love, the song “Naledi” is the subject of my #SingleOut and damn, what a song!
If there was ever such a thing as a musical prequel, the song Naledi fits the definition perfectly. The song literally sounds like the conversation Naledi would have had with her lover just before she left. Her departure would have, of course, subsequently led to Caiphus Semenya’s “Mmatswale”. I doubt if many people actually get that.
The first verse in the song speaks of Naledi, who is crying because she has had enough, and therefore has packed her bags and decided to leave (kgapa ke tseo oa sekhitla, are akeke ae emela nthwe. Are oa tsamaya, are o se a utlwile.). We can say that these are the events preceding Naledi’s departure, because as the singer tries to reason with Naledi he is asking that she puts the bags down so they can talk (beya mekotla fatshe, redule fathse , re buwisane) While, in Mmatswale, Naledi has already packed her bags and went back home, after a heated exchange. But in 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. And the begging in the first verse of Naledi confirms this.
Like in Mmatswale in the second verse, the singer in Naledi admits to his mistakes (phoso tsaka kea ditseba, keo foseditse ke nnete). As he basically begs Naledi to stay, and suggests the intervention his mother-in-law and the uncles (Mme matswale are bitse bo-Malome, re dule fatshe, re buwisane).
If you play both songs back to back, you will see that. In Press’s Naledi, the singer is basically taking the blame for the mess. While in the conversation with his mother-in-law in Mmeatswale, he basically paints the picture of Naledi as being an irresponsible mother who gallivants the night away and has no care for her family or wifely duties (Naledi o ntlhanogetse Ga a robale lapeng, iyho o robala nageng).
The question begs, why would a man who is in a relationship with a wife who sees no problem in abandoning her children (in Matswale: Bana ba rona o kare ke dikhutsanyana). A man who believe that the woman he is living with is not the woman he fell in love with (in Matswale: Naledi o ntlhanogetse). Why would a man in that situation go on to admit fault (in Naledi: phoso tsaka kea ditseba, keo foseditse ke nnete)
And right there lies Presss’ genius.
Often times, like sequels, prequels may or may not concern the same plot as the work from which they are derived. Often, they explain the background which led to the events in the original, but sometimes the connections are not as explicit. Sometimes, prequels play on the audience’s knowledge of what will happen next, using deliberate references to create dramatic irony.
Though a question-mark remain as to what actually happened between Naledi and the singer in both song. One thing is clear. That at this point in time, only the singer in both songs, Naledi and the furious Mother-in-Law know what actually happened, while us the audience are left to piece the plot together. Which means that in a clever twist of creative licence, Press delivers a generous serving of situational as opposed to dramatic irony, as one would expect with a prequel.
There is no question that the singer loves Naledi (in Matswale: Mma motse waka, mogatsake Kemo rata ka pelo yaka kaofela). Or else he would not go to these lengths to save his relationship with someone who clearly decided not to make an effort to save the marriage. The only reason he would beg so desperately is because he is in love. (in Naledi: Ke kgomame ka mangwele)
But I am of the opinion that the singer in both songs suffers from a serious case of emotional abuse, or maybe an unhealthy case of physiological dependence. And that the conversation simply depicts the desperation of a man who struggles to make sense of their world without Naledi (nkeke ka kgona ho phela ntle le wena).
Some people call that love, I think it’s unhealthy.
As Presss goes on to expand his body of work with more masterpieces over the next few years Naledi will probably remain a lesser known composition. What with “Thojana e thisile”, top of many people’s minds. But without a doubt it is one which deserves the most prestige as seminal, as it goes a long way in earning a deserved place along side another significant composition in the South African song book.
Personally, I think the song is brilliant, been on REPEAT on my travels for weeks. Presss’ album Evolution of Love is best R99.99 (R69,99 on Google Music) I have spent all month.
Look it up, and take a listen.