Yesterday I happened to speak with some representatives from the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) at an event promoting local music in Kenya. I was shocked to learn that, in Kenya, music works are granted copyright protection for 50 years after the death of the composer. I’m neither a musician nor a lawyer (so maybe I don’t “get it”), but it certainly seems like there is something wrong with that legislation.
For example, let’s say I’m twenty-five years old and I publish a song in the year 1900. If I die in 1960, at the age of eighty five, my copyright would have just expired this year (2010). Exactly whose interests is the copyright protecting fifty years after my death? Keep in mind, the song would have been published 110 years ago! Do you know what people were doing in Kenya ~100 years ago?
If smoking weed, growing dreadlocks, and listening to Bob Marley sounds good to you, you just might be a Rastafarian! There’s a lot more to it than that, but I’ll be damned if I ever meet a “Rasta” who can explain it without mentioning reggae music or marijuana. It’s quite popular here in Kenya, but after meeting dozens of self-proclaimed Rastafarians I still always wonder: do these guys know that Rastafarianism is a religion, or is it just what the cool kids do?
While its roots are in the Back to Africa and black nationalism movements popularized by Marcus Garvey in the 1930s, it has evolved into much more than just a “black hippie” movement. In a nutshell, Rastafarianism is a Judeo–Christian religion that purports the late Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was the second coming of Jesus Christ (and therefore God incarnate). This and other Rastafarian beliefs are backed by verses from their holy scripture, the Bible.
Something that comes up a lot in Kenya is the fact that I’m not a Christian. They’re mildly shocked until they dig deeper and find out I’m not a Jew, Hindu, or Muslim either. Now, completely flabbergasted, they desperately want to know, “Well then what do you believe in?” Lately I just say, “I believe in trees.” It’s funny, light hearted, and everyone loves trees, right?
Humor’s really the only way to go when debating with religious folk. Even with really awesome, sound arguments, convincing someone who is already convinced otherwise is nearly impossible! It’s not that I haven’t tried… for the record, here are a few tactics which don’t work:
Quote nasty verses from scripture
List commonly accepted facts that contradict scripture
List ridiculous things the founders of particular religions said or did