We first saw the breathtaking dance style without permission.
As I have said before, as kids growing up, very few households had television.
Actually television was a rare luxury.
I mean even a fridge was a luxury appliance. The only appliance that was common place was the radio. Almost every home had radio. But there was only one radio station in the country. So the dial stayed fixed to this one station.
Woe betide any curious child who twiddled the dial in search of something different. The miscreant would be found out the same evening when the parents wanted to listen to the news and found the station out of frequency. They would battle to restore it to the right frequency because since the day it was bought the dial was always fixed.
The radio was much loved in the home. In the more conservative households, the children were not allowed to touch it. When the parents were out it was switched off only to cackle back to life upon their return when they wanted to listen to the news.
In such a scenario it was not easy to have access to a variety of music. We had to make do with the sounds blasting from the solitary station.
The arrival of television changed everything. On television, there was music of the kind many of us had never been exposed to. Not only that, we could actually see the performers singing to their music. It was truly remarkable.
When we listened to the sounds blasting from the local station, we had no way of imagining what the singers looked like. It was just voices coming from the radio set. We had no inkling of the physical features of the announcers.
Television opened up a new world. Not only could we listen with our ears but with our eyes as well.
Admittedly, the early sets were in black and white. So we had to use our powers of imagination to guess what colours the on screen personalities were wearing. Still it was much better than listening to sounds which had no pictures.
Although parents could make a concession when it came to radio, in that sometimes we could be allowed to listen as much as we wanted before the news, there was no such freedom when it came to television.
The set was only switched on in the evening when the parents were home. Otherwise kids would return from school and lovingly gaze at the blank screen counting down the hours to when it would come to life.
And here I mean kids from the few families that could struggle through the hire purchase terms for a black and white set. The hire purchase terms must have been steep because in some homes the television set would be locked in a secure room until the adults came back in the evening.
In order to watch, those whose parents could not face the hire purchase terms had to be on fawning terms with the child from the home that had a black and white set. If you sucked up to the kid they could allow you to come and watch. But only through an open window or a door left slightly ajar.
Those of us not prepared to suck up had to watch from the fence. That is how many of us were introduced to television. And that is how many of us first heard a different kind of music whilst at the same time seeing it performed.
It was not long before some boys from homes with television started copying the dance moves of the musicians on television. Almost without exception the kids who started humming American songs and dancing American style were from homes with televisions.
Together with the pathetic little boot lickers who spent a lot of time watching television sets in other peoples homes, they were hip and trendy.
One of the singers whose style they sought to mimic was a certain Michael Jackson. By the time colour television sets came on the scene, Michael was a superstar. In his videos he displayed the most stupendous dance moves.
The boy had so much talent.
But even as he became more famous, and churned out hit after hit, I decided not to like Michael. Every time I saw him on television I was reminded of those arrogant little brats who had television in their homes and we didn’t.
Michael became such a phenomenon that some boys soon adopted his dress sense and hairdo. As for the girls they were crazy about the man.
Still I would not be converted. But Michael grew bigger and bigger. The man was everywhere. Despite doing my best to ignore him, I somehow maintained a secret interest in his career.
Sometimes I would find myself humming one of his tunes, and upon realising it was a song of a man I was meant to hate, I would promptly zip up.
When he was nabbed for child molestation, I thought gotcha. I wondered why the boys we grew up with were also not arrested for the same offence.
When he decided he was sick and tired of being black and wanted to be white, he earned my grudging respect. In this world where black people are doing their best to undermine themselves and behave like buffoons, who wouldn’t be ashamed of their colour and wish to be something different?
I was in support of his decision to undergo plastic surgery to become white.
Look, as soon as I have enough money I intend to undergo the same procedure myself.
Anyway as his troubles mounted, Michael became a recluse. He then got some women to be surrogate mothers of his children. I mean how can a man with so much money and fame run away from women.
I thought the dream of every man was to make money and be famous in order to have as many women as possible.
Then it was announced that he was making a comeback. I found myself thrilled. All of a sudden the closet admirer of Michael in me came out.
By now, I could afford a television set. I feasted on his videos. I also scoured the shops for his music.
In my middle age, I was in love with Michael just like all those millions of people around the world. I even toyed around with the idea of getting a loan to attend one of his fifty comeback concerts in the land of the queen.
Now he is dead. I am so sad.
I am full of regret for not enjoying his talents back then. I blame those kids who had television and wanted us to suck up to them to come and watch.
They made me hate Michael at a time when I should have enjoyed him.
I wish they too would die. So sad am I!