In an old song, musician Tina Turner asks the question, ‘what’s love got to do with it?
If the numerous timeless tales that exist on love are anything to go by, then the answer would be, without any doubt ‘everything.’
Since time immemorial, man has tried to piece together bits of the puzzle that is love with minimal success. Since Biblical times, tales have been told of strong men of valor who fought in epic battles and conquered kingdoms only to be brought down by their love for a woman. The strong Nazirite Samson fell prey to his enemies thanks to Delilah, a woman he fell in love with. Even devout king David, unable to control his desire for another man’s wife (Bethsheba), killed the man so that he’d have her.
Shakespeare, the great writer of the 16th century also penned a most tragic tale, Romeo and Juliet, which tells the story of young star-crossed lovers who fate destined to doom. Ancient Greek and Roman Tales and even native African myths like Lwanda Magere speak of the power love has over mortals.
What then, are some of the timeless evergreen tales and tunes about love that have stood the test of time? One would ask in this month of love, and especially with spirit of St. Valentine hovering in the air.
Top of the love blues for this season would be Lady in Red by Chris De Burgh. The song’s flirtatious and coy lyrics and the fact that red is considered the color of love at valentines could be the reason this song will always remain timeless.
Peabo Bryson’s A Whole new World, largely considered a wedding song in Kenya, is another well-loved tune during this lover’s season. In the song, a lover promises to introduce his beloved to a new world full of splendor and new horizons. This song is fondly remembered as the soundtrack of the cartoon Aladdin that is based on the ancient Arab tale; Aladdin and the Wonderful magic lamp. Aladdin takes his love, Princess Jasmine on a magic carpet ride and shows her the wonders of the world from up above.
George Michaels’ Careless Whispers is also on the valentines’ list and so is Savage Garden’s I knew I loved you before I met you and Bonny Taylors’ Total Eclipse of the Heart. Berlin’s Take my Breath away; the soundtrack of Tom Cruise’s classic Top Gun is also quite liked by lovers.
Modern tunes too have found their way into the all time love songs charts. They include Bruno Mars’, I hope be brings you flowers; Adelles’ lovelorn lyrics Someone Like You and Avant and Nicole Scherzinger’s Lie about us.
Closer home, African tunes that seem to be considered all time favorites include Daudi Kabaka’s Safari Tanganyika Freshly ground’s I’d Like, Atemi’s Someday and Fadhili Williams’ Malaika.
Hollywood has also done its fair share in bringing love into our make-believe world. Perpetual tales have been told over and over. City of Angels is a heart wrenching tale in which an angel ( Nicholas Cage) falls in love with a human (Meg Ryan) and thus gives up his angelic nature and becomes human. Sadly, his sacrifice of super natural powers is in vain as Ryan is involved in a bad accident and perishes on the day that Cage takes the fall that humanizes him.
Dear John, another Hollywood love story, tells of John, a solder, who falls for a pretty girl called Savannah just before going on a war mission abroad. They keep in touch through regular letters they write each other (hence the title Dear John.) However, as fate would have it, John’s chances of reuniting with his love dwindle as months go by and this, needless to say, exposes both lovebirds to heartaches.
Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman, a well loved romance story, tells of a prostitute (Roberts) who meets a ‘client’ (Richard Gere) for business but the two end up falling for each other. Obviously, this has dire consequences for the super-rich Gere who has a name to preserve and Roberts who, despite her genuine feelings, is regarded as a social climber. Kelly Rowland’s Seat filler and Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard also explore this theme of true love vs. Social class.
Walt Disney hasn’t been left behind in the exploration of the love theme. Besides Aladdin, Numerous other cartoons have been enhanced through inclusion of romance as a plus for good winning over evil.
Lion king, the story of Simba’s coming of age is spiced up by his reuniting with his playmate and childhood love against a backdrop of Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
Shrek is also happy to find an ogre like him in Fiona.
In Oz the Great and powerful, we see how love can lead even the bad to goodness. Oz, a cheat and sly fellow, is challenged when Glinda, the good witch, completely trusts him to save her people from the wicked witch sisters. This belief in him makes Oz choose his good, honest and honorable side and he is rewarded with kingship and great romance with Glinda the beautiful.
The Tanzanian cartoon Kirikou is a great love story too. It tells of a little super-boy Kirikou who has been chosen by fate to be the savior of his people from the wicked witch Mchawi Karabaa. Through brilliant tricks, Kirikou successfully delivers his people from the spell of Mchawi Karabaa. After her spell has been removed, Mchawi Karabaa turns out to be a good person and she and Kirikou get married.
All this tales that are as old as time, coupled with the more recent ones like that of the famous and beautiful Taj Mahal in India that was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his favorite wife Mumtaz; and the Lord Egerton Castle of Nakuru Kenya, built by Lord Morris Egerton for the woman he loved; work through our hearts to remind us of the great power of love, which is up until now, unfathomable to mortal man.