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Published on September 14th, 2009 | by Olumide



I know everything about this post is weird. Sure, we don’t expect to see anyone advertizing funeral CDs for sale. I don’t mean selling to the immediate family or a few of the members of the extended family. I’m referring to selling to the Public, to people whom the deceased never met. I do not refer to a tiny crowd of admirers. I write about a multitude of people well distributed around the world, among the critics of the deceased, his enemies and of course, his friends.

Having attended quite a few services held in honour of people who died, I have observed certain trends that are pronounced in this part of the world: First is the heavy, wasteful, lavish and mostly extravagant spending of money that was often not made available to the deceased when he was alive. In Nigeria to be precise, we quantify the value of the deceased by how much we are able to spend on their funerals and so we waste money on everything from caskets to food. Some children of deceased people actually take loans to execute funeral ceremonies! Many spend more than they earn in years! The second observation is the hypocritical ‘respect’ allotted to the dead. People say good things about them and pretend that they were good people even in cases where such people were societal miscreants.

But guess what? This post is a call to YOU to think about your funeral. I do not pray that it comes soon. I must however remind you that it will surely come one day- any day. I write because whatever people will choose to say about you, it won’t change who you actually were. And history has a way of remembering things. History remembers Hitler. I definitely remember Lamidi Adedibu, the Basorun Gaa of Ibadan Land. I also remember the Late General Sani Abacha and no number of post humus awards conferred on him will change the image I have of him.

I know I have delivered the conclusion before the story. The inspiration for this post is actually the memorial service held in honour of Michael Jackson. I was shocked to hear that a dead man was having the kind of attention he commanded that day. Viewing it live was an estimated population of between six hundred million and one billion people! That is like saying one of every ten people in the world abandoned his work to watch the service held in honour of a dead man! Thousands of responsible people struggled to get passes to be inside the Stapples Centre. Some others stayed in churches and public places to watch projected images. Apart from Nelson Mandela, I don’t know of any other person alive that can command that kind of attention in death.

And that is not counting the number of CDs of the memorial service that have been sold. I’m sure the number has run into millions. In Nigeria alone, I know that the programme DVD has been pirated by about 3 different outfits. You should know what that is saying about sales. For most people I know who have the DVD (including me), it is something that is watched almost every day. Wait a minute. Here am I confessing that I watch a memorial service regularly? It’s quite simple. Besides the musical value of that programme, there is something else…

It’s a story of a man of influence, a person who has touched lives. A musician who has entertained to limits unattained by anyone before him. It is a story of hard work, of perseverance, of devotion, love, respect and the ultimate desire the make the world better. It is not a story of perfection, in fact it is a story stained with terrible and almost unforgivable deeds like allegations of child molestation and changing from black to white. But even those do not remove the fact that Michael Jackson was a blessing to the world. From his life, I have the following points:

1. Enjoy life: Michael loved every minute of his performances. He loved singing and dancing. He spent his life doing what he enjoyed doing. If he had been a doctor or a preacher (which are very respectable occupations), he might have been very good. But he would not have gained as much satisfaction as he did from music. I think this is a big lesson for us in Nigeria. For many youths, JAMB or University Admission Boards determine what they become in life. Nobody takes you serious if you want to be a musician or tailor or hairdresser… In my 100 level days, I was in one of the most respectable departments in school. The problem was that I found it extremely boring and meaningless. Needless to say, I got out of it fast. I don’t regret it today.

2. Start Early (or start now): Michael started at 5. When you start early enough, you have the time to reach the top. If age is not on your side anymore, start fast all the same. You may still have enough time to make some impact.

3. Be the Best: It’s great to be talented but talent is not enough. Michael practiced for 18 hours every day! Little wonder he was the best. Was he a genius? I’m not so sure. Maybe even my body which constantly refuses to align to any beat would get to do the moonwalk if I tried it for 18 hours every day of the year!

4. Heal the World: It’s great to make money. But whatever you do, add more to the world than you will take from it. In the end, it will count the most. Help the helpless. Be useful to your community. Be nice to all.

5. Take Good Care of Your Family: Do you know something that really got me excited about this guy? His kids. They had been kept from public glare because like a wise father, Michael did not want them to be exposed to the problems of being famous for something they never worked for. He was obviously close to them (his daughter called him the ‘best daddy in the world’- and she apparently wasn’t lying). His brothers and sisters were also very close to him. Love was obvious in that family.

6. Be Humble: In the words of one of the speakers, Michael was the ‘greatest, biggest entertainer that ever lived’. I’m quite sure Michael never quite rubbed that in, for if he had, he would not have had the caliber of entertainers who spoke about him at his funeral. It was obvious that he had not been snobbish or haughty to them even though he was better and more famous. Only that kind of attitude would bring both young and old celebrities together to honour a man. No matter how great you are, there are some things you need others to do for you. They will be willing if you are humble.

I could go on, but this is getting long enough. I hope to post someday later about the lessons I have learned from the negative parts of Michael Jackson’s life.

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  1. Omolola Odusanya says:

    It"s really weird…

  2. Oluwafikemi Adeosun says:

    Olumideeeee,uve not changed.

  3. Jesujoba says:

    This is excellent!

  4. Brett Hamman says:

    Michael Jackson was like a heroic figure to me. I’ve been coping with his passing away and it has been incredibly tough for me. I cannot believe how he changed the world around the world. I wish his family the best. Thank you Michael for the most amazing life!

  5. Charlotte says:

    Thanks, that is a very good article. I found it via Google and immediately incorporated it into my feedreader. I am pleased to soon be back here to read again! greetings

  6. MJ was like a hero to me. I’ve been coping with his passing away and it has been very emotional for me. I cannot believe how he influenced the people around the world. I wish his family the best. Thank you Michael for the most amazing life!

  7. One year after Michael J’s death and i still feel sad.. He was the greatest!

  8. Simply Oana says:

    Michael was truly an extraordinary man. There will never be another like him.

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