since Grace permits...

Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car is Revolutionary

“So you’ve got a fast car… I’ve got a plan to get us out here”

Being a 90’s baby means that just the sound of that eras’ music brings along nostalgic memories. Tracy Chapman, Cindy Lauper, Toto, Phil Collins. Back then I only heard the words, and I was too young to understand the depth of meaning in the song. Some lyrics barely registered to me as a child who was learning in their indigenous language. However, they still somehow resonate.

Just the other day, I chose to listen to Tracy Chapman’s hit Fast Car and I was reminded of just the prison I have been locked in by just merely being born. It speaks of the situations young people face after being thrown prematurely into life. No one is ever ready, but for some it is too soon. Today, a good number of Batswana youth suffer from the oppression of society and its expectations. Before college, I never knew that some among us would have to share the meagre living allowance with families in the village. I never knew that we should work hard at part-time jobs to earn some money for the things we need. I didn’t know that older men in the city (who are our fathers and uncles back home) insist we return sexual favours for the few hundred Pulas they give. I never knew that we had to save some money to buy a little happiness for our families during the Christmas season. I didn’t know that a lot of financial responsibility would arise just because of the fact that we are at college and being sponsored by the Government. I didn’t know that we had to sell ourselves into relationships with others and break moral codes by “living together” with a young man we just met, who was kind enough to love us and put a roof over our heads. I never knew these things. I never knew that academic pressure could lead many among us into the indulgence in drugs and alcohol and debased lives. I never knew.

Fast Car just sounds like the sound my heart makes when I long to throw away all and race into freedom. It is like the footsteps I take when I walk to places where I know I am going to sell myself short, but its gotta be done. It’s the painful cry in my soul when I look at myself in the mirror and see the horror, and realize that I don’t know ‘that girl’ anymore. It is the sound of me breaking glass in anxiety as I wait for my test results, his knock on the door, my mother’s phone call, a pregnancy test, the clay mask I have on to dry, an invitation from a two-faced friend, a letter from the doctor, a SafeAssign email, the living allowance crediting text message and the tears rushing down my face. It is the pain in my heart, because of my life.

But above all, it is the sound of my thoughts when I know I have had enough. It is the sound of the hope that will bring me through today, it is the longing of help from anywhere and anyone who might just pass by. It is just me, a simple varsity kid asking for a feeling that I belong, a feeling I could be someone.

“So you’ve got a fast car? Is it fast enough so we can fly away? We gotta make a decision. Leave tonight or live and die this way.”

It’s like a prayer for a difference.

Tracy Chapman herself is a phenomenal artist and singer-songwriter whose songs have always been ‘relatable’. She’s done a share of human rights activism and supported many good causes. Perhaps her songs, with a little more listening could add a little more soul and feeling to any blue day.Check out her awesome website here!

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