A Fallen Genius.

Genius is rare because the means of becoming one have not been available – Victor Hugo

I consider myself a Genius but that is only but self-proclaimed and possibly egoistic. It does not seem to carry as much stature as it possibly would have had I been referred to as a genius say by a peer or any second person for that matter. The word Genius in itself is somewhat secret and used as the ultimate compliment of one’s skill or ability. So it is quite understandable that only a select few are deemed worthy of the title ,Genius. With that said I might have to get over myself and reconsider my clearly ambitious association with such a word, “maybe one day soon kid, not quite there yet”.

Now back to the music, In the music world the word Genius is treated with just as much prestige as it is in all other spheres of life, only but a select few – and not self-proclaimed. I think musical geniuses and the names Micheal Jackson, Bobby McFerrin, Gill Scott-Heron, Kanye West and closer to home Hugh Masekela come to mind. Another such name I have come to learn is that of the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa.

The Man

,“In his playing, in his demeanor, in his speech, he was slow and deliberate and wise… even when he was agitated or annoyed, I don’t remember him talking loudly or rudely.” Sibongile Khumalo

Described as being a shy, composed and at times mysterious figure. Taiwa was born a descendant of musicians, and as you can imagine it did not take too long before he himself showed interest and curiosity. That very same early interest and curiosity seemingly went a long way in him ultimately becoming a multi award winning artist.

,“… a very delicate and sensitive person” – Robert Trunz on Molelekwa

It is said Molelekwa lived and breathed music to an extent were, he had this thing of nodding his head when you speak to him because he is actually listening to this tempo in his head while also listening to you,. Adding to his calm nature and early curiosity he was also quite the reader and had an understanding of his spiritual being.

,“He was always interested in the roots,” – Jerry Molelekwa

During his lifetime Moses worked with and for artist’s whose names would shake any room while also releasing four different album of his own. Each album’s sound seemed to capture the scenery of the time around which it was released and perhaps that of his own life at that specific time. Sadly his life was short lived and ended at the tender age of 27.

The Tragedy

,The nature of genius is often precarious. It teeters along the precipice of madness, it flirts outrageously with callous destructiveness, yet in-between it conjures moments of utter tranquility, harmony and beauty.,”

As obvious at it might seem in this case, I found it quite difficult figuring out exactly what Taiwa’s tragedy was. Is it ,,the manner in which he died? Is it that he died at such a young age? or is it the thought of what could have been.
I understand that death is the endmost tragedy and it would be undue for me to overlook Taiwa’s death or that of anyone else under such a sub-heading, but I choose to.

I consciously choose to, because for me the tragedy of any event is not the actual event’s occurrence but rather it is what the occurrence of the event entails. Taiwa’s death entailed that a son would be without a father and a father without a son. It entailed that thousands would be deprived of a man who brought smiles to them and brought to them many memories through his music. It entailed that the world was now a few short of greatness. That is Tragic.

The Genius

“The man was simply a genius. He was a great composer and arranger and could improvise. It’s rare to find an artist who could excel in all aspects of music and he did. He was one of a kind…” – McCoy Mrabata

Taiwa was a multi instrumentalist who was predominately known for his work with the piano. He is also famously known for producing and doing work with the likes of Sibongile Khumalo and TKZee. What made him a genius however was he’s out the box approach to his craft. Not only did he think and talk music like no one else, he also played it to his own distinct.

Taiwa held a trait that I’ve noticed is synonymous to all greats, he had a willingness to learn and take inspiration from those that came before him and his peers alike. And being the obsequious student he was, he would list and acknowledge those he took inspiration from at every chance he got. The names of Abdullah Ibrahim, Bheki Mseleku and Herbie Hancock however were among those constantly mentioned. And I can see why given his deeply African rooted sound similar to that of Abdullah, his lyrical and spiritually evoking style synonymous to the late Bheki, and breathtaking arrangements that can only be matched by those of Herbie Hancock himself.

“Different styles of music put together but with a strong root in African music.” – Molelekwa on his music

Though deeply rooted his music was still relateable and contemporary in a sense. His sound was also immensly polyrhythmic perhaps this was due to his different interests, perhaps it symbolised something beyond just the surface of the music. The man longed to capture and recreate the mbira sound through piano. That is Genius.

,“When he was making Genes and Spirits, I questioned what he was doing. He said: ‘Today you don’t understand the music, but in the future you will understand it.’

His Sound and influence is still audible in artist’s music to this day!

You can not separate the genius from the man nor the man from the tragedy. There is no set order to it, it is intertwined and in conjunction tells a beautiful story.


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