There is a lot of similarity between the love songs of Limpopo’s King Monada and one of the biblical Song of Songs traditionally ascribed to King Solomon. The popularity of this Sepedi song is not debatable in Botswana. Until a few weeks ago some did not know Monada, the man who has given Sub-Saharan Africa a Christmas gift in a song that millions now either love, hate or try to ignore.
The track’s proper title ‘s Malwedhe. Aged 25, King Monada’s real name is Steven Khutso Kgatla and his nickname is Monadaros.
I join those who predict that there will be a few black parties without this song during the festive season.
Monada may not have the beautiful voice and talented crescendo displayed in Brenda Fassie’s Vulindlela. Yet, social media is awash with the video clips of Monada’s ‘I faint’ challenge. The fainting imitations from the video clips have inadvertently allowed a background sharing of Southern Africa’s social landscapes from the domestic spheres of people at parties to weddings, schools and offices. The Monada challenge has further cut across careers portraying soldiers, petrol attendants, white collar professionals and nurses possibly with unintended benefit on team building from the very jocular of yielding to the force of gravity. Whether you are a music lover, facebooker or a marriage officer, you ignore the song at the risk of being irrelevant.
‘Ke a idibala’ is a love song after all and that explains why I searched the love book of the Bible, the Song of Songs, to test its relevance. I was awestruck that by the fifth chapter, I was already seeing relatedness of fainting and disappointed love. In Chapter 5: 8 the ancient Biblical author wrote: “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you, if you find my beloved, what will you tell him? Tell him I am faint with love” (NIV). In close affinity to Solomon’s, Monada’s lyrics are also about an intimate conversation between lovers with one detailing vulnerability and likelihood of experiencing fainting seizure at infidelity and being jilted. Call it blackmail, but just like the main character of the Song of Songs, Monada’s lyrics depict a lover who is head over heels in love and hopes for an eternal union.
Preachers and writers should not unjustifiably impose a meaning into a quoted scripture. Proper Biblical exegesis suggests that to ensure that you are not trapped in this error one should either find another scripture to give credibility to what you purport to be the message or, alternatively that you should depend on the lack of ambiguity in the narrative. The clarity of narrative in the Song of Songs chapter 5:1-8 is our solace. The story is of a deserted and disappointed lover who, having bathed and undressed for her lover opens the door only to find her lover gone. She then goes into the streets asking night watchmen for his whereabouts only to be beaten by the same. In verse 3 the Biblical author delves into soliloquy and the rhetoric saying that even though she was ready due to disappointment by her beloved, she should now dress up and give up. In fact, in what may be symbolic foretelling of the Monada challenge, the Biblical one also decries that having cleaned her feet perhaps she should now soil them because the lover
Of course, as internal evidence argues, Biblical writ is emblematic; The Song of Songs are a collection of love poems between a man and a woman but they are also about God’s relentless pursuit of fallen humanity. It may be argued that the beating suffered as the fainting lover pursues the beloved in the dark alleys actually points to Christ who was bruised and crucified, dying for the sins of humanity. If that was to be confirmed by theologians, it would represent one of the few examples where the feminine represents Christ’s sacrificial love.
I am personally not surprised that our 2018 love poet from Limpopo finds fulfilment in biblical framework. Some of the finest sonnets and love songs have always rendered symbolism or direct consonance with Biblical expose. It is no digression, but there is a striking relationship between Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 and what Batswana call Lerato la ga Bakorinta in 1st Corinthians 13. However, like Shakespeare, Monada and Solomon’s main characters will ‘not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments’ or else they threaten a manifestation of the unconsciousness malwedhe.
Going deeper than Monada’s Christmas gift, we are reminded that God’s own Christmas gift to the World, Jesus, did not go half dead. Rather as another biblical writer, Isaiah, puts it, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, choosing to die to save humanity from the grip of sin.
Much like Monada’s unnamed character once we succumb to the love relationship of Jesus, He too defines the conditions of our relationship cautioning us especially if we become unfaithful. His Apostle Paul said when we sin having known Christ it’s like we sacrifice and kill him afresh. In the epistle to the Ephesians, Paul clearly shows that the Holy Spirit can be hurt, using the word ‘Lupeite’ that talks to emotions of sorrow in the Greek; ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption’.
Fortunately though, at least one scripture admonishes us against another type of fainting, lest someone comes up with a ‘Church of Biblical Fainting’. This is found in Galatians 6:7 where we are cautioned against fainting from doing good deeds: hold on to that which is good for “in due season we shall reap, if we do not faint”. Tshwara ka thata modumedi, O seka wa idibala, and when Monada’s song cracks the speakers over Christmas, remember the message behind it is to be faithful to the concept of forever love.
*Phillip Segadika is a Minister with the Church of God of Prophecy, Molepolole. However expressions here do not necessarily reflect the church doctrine