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In this paper, the song Slave by Lucky Dube will be used for analysis. In brief, Lucky is a South African, born and raised in hardship during apartheid. The Dutch and English occupation in South Africa led Lucky Dube to compose songs against the injustices meted on the blacks by the foreigners. One such song was slave. To analyze the song, functionalism and conflict theories will be used.
According to Carl Marx, societies are stratified into two main groups; those who have the resources and those who don’t. Resource controllers are also owners of power, who exploit and oppress the working class. This perceived injustice leads to conflict of interest, which explainable via conflict theory. In the song Slave, Lucky Dube describes how the blacks have been alienated and enslaved. They have taken to drinking and this equally breeds conflict in the home with the wife and family. In the song, Lucky says that ministers of religion have approached him, asking him to drop his agitation for rights. The ministers of religion in this case are instruments of the white oppressors, to try and convince the blacks to abandon their struggle for emancipation. Because of exploitation, working class have lost all dignity. All slaves have turned to pleasing the masters for survival. For the oppressors to maintain power, other institutions like legal system as well as political power to contain the dissenting views and voices of the oppressed. Under capitalist economy, there is inherent struggle for resources with the owners trying all they have to stop the workers from acquiring resources.
Functionalism considers the harmony and compatibility of different parts of a whole for success. In a society for instance, different departments like school, family, legal system, industries should all be streamlined for the benefit of all. According to Parsons, for a society to function normally, it must realize four aspects including adaptation, goal attainment, integration and pattern maintenance. Adaptation is all about individuals controlling their environment. This is not the case in the song Slave. Africans are not in control of their environment, they have been enslaved by the colonial whites. From the song, it is clear that individuals are not attaining their goals and desires. The persona is disillusioned, buried in liquor.
The wife at home waits only for trouble. Integration is very critical in a society. In this song however, there is a conscious and concerted effort to discriminate and enslave some members of the society. The whites are on the other side of the divide, creating a rift between the two groups. To make the social system cohesive, other institutions to handle deviance must be established. The song however paints a lopsided view of deviance in which the blacks are the only victims. This is discriminative. Within the family, individuals are unable to meet their expectations. The wife is worried about the troubles the husband is coming home with. Equally, the husband is frustrated by his inability to freely secure his family a better future. He instead take to alcohol, further shaking the fabrics of the family.
Based on the two theories, it clear that the song Slave by Lucky Dube do address the injustices, inequalities, discrimination and imbalances in the society from where the song operates. The two theories in trying to understand the inequalities do ground these aspects.