Kenneth, ah socio human database
I felt special when Dr Kenneth John’s daughter, Andrea John-Robin on the behalf of the family, graciously invited me to team up with Dr. Fraser to deliver the Eulogy for her dad. The ceremony was not short of lovely tributes from individuals and organizations, practically all of whom would have been touched by, or benefited in some way from the expertise of this great son of the soil. Kenneth was knowledge base, his brain dat remained firmly intact up to de end, was like a Socio Human Database Unit (a computer), no bigger than a man’s fist, Divinely built with Random Access Memory, Mother Board, Disc Drive, a Central Process (Audio and Video) Device. In his Eulogy, Dr Fraser did a brief but exciting recap of Kenneth’s sojourn on earth from his birth de Easter Sunday, Resurrection Morning in 1938, to his day of departure.
With Doc Fraser and others speaking ahead of me, everything dat I would have liked to say was already said. So I did what I do best at Funerals, render a musical Duet. I know wid all de protest act-shun taking place right now in Cuba, de ever outspoken Care-Not John would have appreciated me playing foh him ah patriotic song like Finlandia, de unofficial Nah-shun-all Anthem of Finland. De story behind Finlandia is dat Tsarist Russians had been occupying Finland for over ah hundred years, there was no freedom of the Finnish Press, then largely controlled by de Russians, who by den had created an autonomy, imposing so-called “Russification” policies.
In an effort to raise funds to provide support and pension foh Press and Newspaper workers at de time, De Press Association in Finland, organized a Three Days Convention for workers. Music for the Festival was specially composed by Jean Sibelius. It was de beginning of de Rev-all-yuh-shun in Finland. In response to Russian aggression during the Second World War. De poet Veikko Antero Koskenniemi wrote his own lyrics to the “Finlandia Hymn” originally called “Finland Awakes. Finlandia remained a constant source of inspiration for patriotic Finns. The words of the first verse are as follows:
“This is my song (land), O God of all the nations; A song (land) of peace, for lands afar and mine; This is my home, the country where my heart is; Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine; But other hearts in other lands are beating; With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine “ What a powerful Hymn!
However, in modern day Christian Church today the music and melody of Finlandia is played to the words of the Song: Be Still My Soul: “ Be still, my soul, The Lord is on thy side; With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In ev’ry change he faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend’ Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.” This version asks to be patient, wait on the Lord in the meantime: “turn de other cheek!”
Sadly as I write, Cuba is having serious protests . De US labels it “A New Rev-all-yuh-shun” we know how dat go. Interestingly de Finns 120 years ago, got inspiration from dey Patriotic Song Finlandia, “Rise Finland!” ah Cultural Expression signaling firm object-shun to de long oppressive presence of the Russians. It is now sixty years of de Cuban Rev-all-yuh-shun not widout heavy Russian influence and of course US enter-fear-rants. But presently dey’s a serious energy being generated from ah Rap Song: “Patria y Vida” (Fatherland and Life), produced by young Afro-Cuban dissident artist rappers, both on the island and in Miami.
This new chant is not only gathering momentum around modern day Cubans but is contrary to de founding father Fidel Castro’s motto of “Patria o Muerte” (Fatherland or Death). Let us hope dat Wisdom prevails on all side in Cuba and Miami. Dey’s too much at stake foh us in de wider Carry Beyond, to lose if anything goes sour in Cuba.
Ken John ain’t dead ah month yet, and already ah beginning to miss his biting comments on issues like these. Ah trust Editor Cyp Nehall to resurrect one ah Kenneth’s ole article wid relevance to dis US named New Cuban Rev-all-yuh-shun.
And wid dat is gone ah gone again
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.