Saturday, 16 November 2013

Do you remember the time?

The King of Pop (Michael Jackson) was such a huge influence in my early years of music appreciation.   I had an older brother who absolutely idolised him in every way possible (right down to the jerry curl), dance moves and we can't forget the sunglasses, white glove (I never did see a sequinned one...) and black pointed shoes.  "Remember the Time" had one of the best music videos with appearances by Eddie Murphy as Pharaoh, Iman as his queen and Magic Johnson as the faithful servant.

The strongest memory from the song was the big dance sequence (when isn't there an epic dance sequence in an MJ song - there just HAS to be one) where MJ shows off his vocal skills, scatting in some places.  But what sticks in my mind is one of the lines which suggests that he and the queen of Egypt were "on the phone, till three".  Historically, no phones in Egypt.... but the second cultural identifier for gifted Pasifika students does value memory:

2. Memory (e.g. Cites formal Pasifika customs, familial and village links)
Students are able to formally recite customs, protocols, family/ancestral history and links to honorific addresses for village genealogy.  This is similar to the Aboriginal emphasis on kinship and family ties, where relationships with family members and being able to memorise specific and detailed genealogy is highly prized as a status symbol. (Faaea-Semeatu, 2011).

For diaspora Pacific Islanders who live away from their motherlands, being able to formally recite customs and understand genealogy is taught by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, chiefs, elders, so that it becomes ingrained in the memory.  For future generations to maintain their connection with their ancestral homelands, oral histories must be recorded, transferred into writing - even visiting their homelands to connect with the land.  Why is this important? Because when we're asked "Do you remember the time?", we need to be able to recall what we are being asked to remember, or we run the risk of losing who we are, together with our memories.