Pablo Idahosa, long-standing Africanist and administrator, writes from York University, Canada

I offer up the lyrics below by  Lucky Dube, which should, of course,  be heard as the song, with its lamenting minor key melodic genius, the siren fem-jali chorus,  and chuggingly  suggestive rhythmic undertow.  I cannot  phrase the complicated readings of this simply  powerful lyric by the  great South  African reggae artist,  which is  best left to literary and philosophical analysts. But as as social scientist who teaches about development and African popular culture, I  would say this: here' s a poignant  example of the lament that historically sinuous its way into and through one important aspect  of diasporic consciousness. It wants to both know and rely upon Africa  for its sense of self and validation. Many of the, thus far,   interesting tacitly guilt-ridden laments masking as analysis are academic Jacksons, even if we keep  names. We all know Thembas, of course; not in  that they want to change their name, but they want, and know about,  what everyone on this listserve wanted, and why so many have  taken this  great bird to America. That is, because what they have can hardly be sustainable, meaningful  livelihoods to sustain their sense of worth,  at least in the sense of  those on this listserve.   The point, however, is it is all not  new, just more intense,  and more immediate. Does the difference lie in being larger in scale? Hardly with  Atlantic Slavery;  the difference is  about  the scale of those who can move, and have the choice.  Difficult though it may appear to those who make them, the choices pale in comparison to those who are forced to do other things,  or who do not have option to move.
We all need the historical courage of Jackson, cut off so long from his homeland, but who still has the power to imagine home. We also, however,   need to understand Themba, because Themba is us, without resources but seeking them out in the way that ordinary people do and will.  That we are  "intellectuals" in no ways diminishes the pain of mental  slavery.
ps the CD is called The Other Side. Everyone should buy it.

His name is Jackson
He lives in Jamaïca
Every morning he comes down to the docks to watch the ships come and go
He's been here too long
Mental slavery, has not touched him one bit
He still know his history
He knows where he come from
That is why he believes the ocean
Can give him some answers
About the very,  very far home
That he's never been to all his life
He saysŠ
I wish I was home, I wish I was in Africa(x2)  ( my emphasis)
I have seen his world, I've seen the other world
I have nothing to say
I put my coat on my shoulders
As I walk away, I heard myself sing

The grass is greener on the other side Till you get there, and see it for yourself (x3)  (my emphasis)

His name is Themba
He lives in Soweto
Every morning he goes to the airport
To watch the planes Come and go
He has changed his african name
To a western one
'Cause he doesn't know how it hurts
To have a name you can't be proud of
He hopes that one day (one day)
One of these birds of the sky
Can take him away
To a very very far land
Running away from the very roots
That so many black people in the world
Are wanting to come back
A place they call home
They wish they were home They wish they were in Africa(x2)
I live in his world, I've seen the other world
I got nothing to say I put my coat on my shoulders
As I walked away I heard myself sing
[Chorus] till end