Mandela Girls

we-are-prostitutes1

I came across a fallen tree

I felt the branches of it looking at me

Is this the place we used to love?

Is this the place that I’ve been dreaming of?

The above copy pasted words make up the second chorus of a certain song. Their flow deposits my mind into a wave of innervations much like those my conscience experienced upon a time I found myself in a physical space where I was stared down by a group of sex workers as I walked along with my tail tucked between my legs. Shrivelled on the city concrete, their roots can no longer indulge growth. Was this ever their dream? I don’t know, though I can’t help but think that perhaps once upon a time these girls had better hopes for themselves or at least their parents had better hopes for them. The question remains.

Performed and composed by English alternative rock band Keane, “Somewhere Only We Know” is the opening track of their Hopes and Fears album. The real meaning of the song’s video and lyrics remain unknown though the number could either be about a geographical space or a feeling. A traditional piano song, this number caught the world’s ear becoming one of the biggest hits of the year 2004 worldwide.

Knoting females with vilifying terms such as whore and slut, prostitution has been claimed to be the oldest profession. Yeap, it’s said to be the oldest professional way to earn what we in South Africa may refer to Randelas, Mandela money. I can’t help but ask myself, is it really the oldest profession? And when is that turning point in a female’s life… in her mind does she decide to take that path?

Oh simple thing where have you gone?

I’m getting old and I need something to rely on

So tell me when you’re gonna let me in

I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

You and I can only speculate the mental and emotional leitmotif an aging sex worker goes through as she starts to lose her sex appeal… “Stuck still, no turning back…”, Perhaps this deserves a post of its own.

We may all agree that humans only preach a truth that suits them. You’ll never see a fat person preaching about how fat people should start taking their health seriously, likewise, you’ll never see a skinny human preaching about how important having a healthy body weight is. It’s so easy for a human to call another human a whore until they find themselves becoming a whore, that’s when they start seeing/finding colour in being a whore and to start finding less offensive terms to refer to what they do.

Though the “oldest profession” is most likely to be the reason why most if not all swear words have a feminine or a female undertone, women have been known to be a lot more than they were given credit for back in the 50s. Yes, men and women are equally commodious though it’s no argument that since the world has accepted this notion and for the most part advocates equality between genders, women have stepped out and done things better than us men. Originally performed by Keane, Somewhere Only We Know has been reworked/covered by a number of influential musicians though it was only when English songstress Lily Allen covered the song for the festive season back in 2013 that it became a #1 hit, making it more successful than the original version. Just another little voice showing us that our mothers, our sisters, our daughters are the real rockstars… each and every one of them; given a chance to shine.

“The role of the man is to bring the light, the role of the wife is to reveal the light”

 The artwork featured on this post is a collaboration between English contemporary artist Guy Denning and Frenchman Frank E. Rannou.

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About Ndumiso Mncwabe

When beautiful melodies tell us horrible things and grisly sounds tell us the kind truth. This is where life and music meet. They say music has the power to inspire change, I say music has the power to inspire vibes. Good vibes and bad vibes. It also has the power to inspire thoughts, but most importantly, for it to inspire change, it must inspire conversation. I smell music, I speak music. View all posts by Ndumiso Mncwabe

2 responses to “Mandela Girls

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