King Monada’s song, Malwedhe, is probably the fastest growing trend on the continent.
South Africa’s music scene has already, grudgingly, crowned Malwedhe the dance jam for the festive season.
The internet is awash with short clips of dancers doing the viral Idibala challenge, a dramatic response to certain lyrics of the song that requires intermittent mid-dance feigning of the act of fainting.
Unlike most viral songs, Malwedhe has a nice ring to it. It has the feel of House music and the lyrics conform rather religiously to the music’s rhythm. This is a song that you can stomp your feet to, even if you are an awkward dancer with two left legs. Idibala is infectious in its subtlety as it brings to fore a vulnerability that is better dramatised than imagined then better imagined than realised.
Sung entirely in his North Sotho dialect Selobedo, Monada, self-styled king of Limpopo wrote this song as a swain’s response to the possibility of his lover’s abandonment.
Idibala translates to fainting in English language and this is what lovers of this song have been doing. Making short videos of their mid-dance fainting spells propelled by keywords and hashtags. The trend has grown wings all the way to China.
What is most affecting about this dance is not only it’s goofiness and gimmicky, it is the notion of how continued love is the cure to that symptomatic withdrawal of love on the one hand. On the other hand, the hyperbolic gesture of falling to the ground is also symbolic of how syncope brings up the possibility of death. Hence, love, or its more pragmatic working, companionship, becomes the Nexus between living and dying.
The French were obviously on to something when they coined the phrase me petit mort. (Google is your friend)
Of course, it will be the bane of hyper masculinity to consider the notion of love sickness as an admittance of fickleness, or worse, sissy behaviour.
What is affection, it will ask, for a well endowed man of means and methods? Definitely not to be at the whims and caprices of a lover, whose abandonment will mean syncope.
Back to the dance, for a song about love, it carries no sexual suggestions. And this may be the most interesting observation: that a dance almost entirely non-sexual grows like wild fire at a time where everything is sexualised.
Take the Ghanaian “One Corner” instance. Observing the dance for one moment will leave one with the notion that this is a dance of depravity, of disinhibition, of desperate pleasures.
Idibala instead is unassuming, simple and almost inelegant in its stride as life is, until the instructive lyrics kick in and people fall to the ground, like a carefully choreographed Micheal Jackson dance routine.
By falling to ground intermittently, perhaps we are foreshadowing an inevitable outcome closely tied to our existence.
Idibala in that instance becomes dance as destiny and because it is set as a love song, we can relate to the possibility of detachment from our love object as a kind of dying.
Eventually Idibala dance and song will fade to the background remembered, inevitably, by insoluble hashtags. I can assure you that we will move beyond it but, for now, let’s fall to the ground, in dance.