February 2nd 2003
Life here has been beating to the tune of a different drummer. More specifically commercial free oldies from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, a lot of the new stuff in rock n roll and rap, music from Turkey, India, and the very important classical. In the past I have been one that has not really been interested in the radio or music. I know that it was stressed in material that I was given that music is very important to the volunteers but I feel like I underestimated just how much so. I know that I spent a lot of time downloading songs from the Internet on the computer but other than that I brought little music with me.
I think that part of the reason that I did not bring very much music with me is that really it seems like most people like music a lot more than I do in the States even the same applies to the other Peace Corps Volunteers. I was one that as a child used to watch three to four hours of TV a day or more. I was always into watching TV more than music but later on I found that neither of them very likeable. I had a few songs that I would like that had grown on me but for the most part I did not like all the rest. I held the opinion that musicians were just a little above cave men pounding on things until a beat and or rhythm appeared that they found likable and then decided to pound and strum there new song wherever they went until if finely stuck on people and my opinion about the people on the TV was just as untactful with the exception of some fine programming on channels like the Discovery Channel and useful information like the Weather Channel.
I ended moving out on my own and not even owning a TV or stereo as I had been so programmed, bombarded, and surrounded by the American media machine that it was hard for me to be clear just how much influence it had on me consciously and unconsciously. I had a few songs on my computer that I downloaded off the Internet and Art Bell on the late night AM radio I would listen to on the alarm clock. But after coming to Lesotho it would seem I was at my sight with now only songs on my computer to listen to and they were becoming old fast.
I purchased a radio in town and got it to pick up Lesotho and South Africa stations. I was able to receive two. One was the BBC which was fuzzy and the volume level would uncontrollably and unpredictably go up and down varying from just soft fuzz to so loud that now I am also sharing the news with my neighbor. In addition I could also get one other station known as “Radio Lesotho”. This is the same station which when I ride on public transportation is blasted out of speakers right next to me often inches away from my head at what seems like rock concert levels. I remember my brother turning sixteen and having loud stereo systems his car playing it very loud for me and even my friends that when they turned that age blasting their music like teenagers do and I am undoubtedly sure that the Basotho play their traditional music much louder. Radio Lesotho is almost like torture at times with it being played basically everywhere, as it is the basically only station. For all that I have listened to it the music on it still sounds like the exact same song. All the songs have the same beat and while the words change from song to song the melody of the guys words has the exact same melody. The basotho say it is music/poetry and if it varied from this form then it would not be their traditional music.
The new radio has been like a kind of medicine. While before I was in the States and had very little to do with the radio or TV I still through going outside of my house got exposed to it a lot and now that I had very little exposure I was feeling in lack of sorts. Lot’s of people here have TV’s but it seems like I have watched little and while American music is popular it is not the type I like. Now that I have the radio I really feel like the radio stations on it are top notch. They are even better than the one’s in the States for the type of music that I like to listen too. One of my favorites is the oldies station that plays the rebellion hippie rock n roll of the 60’s and 70’s and like I said it is commercial free except for little commercials for satellite radios and promos for it’s own station. The commercial for the oldies station is something like “This is the music your parents listened too when they did everything they are telling you not to do”. I know at the beginning of coming to the Peace Corps none of my family except for one second cousin was totally excited about me coming to Africa some even telling me I should not come but now that I am here I am having fun and now that I have the satellite radio I am doing it with music. jeff