“Happy” Music – Whose Definition?

Another reflection from the days of paying out teacher’s salaries. I had purchased a lovely PYE transistor radio with good sound. I used it as often as I could but, since it ran on C cell batteries, it had to be used at a low volume to preserve the “juice”. It was powerful; could pull in the BBC station with ease as well at the main German broadcasting service – which played a lot of concert-type music; Chopin, Brahms; Mozart, etc. I could even listen to VOA broadcasts from Germany.

Now, anyone who knows African music, knows that most of it has a real beat to it. Right after they received their monthly salaries, I think the purchase of batteries was their first priority – because whenever I visited the schools, the beat of African music was heard from their residences – at least at the beginning of the month! And to the “Western” ear, it was not soothing in any way.

Well, when the teachers came to our home for their salaries, I usually had the radio on and mostly tuned to that German station with classical music. I enjoyed that music playing in the background – out there in the middle of Africa!

The teachers came in, clamoring to be paid first because they had a long way to go home! And, when things settled down a bit they noticed the radio and the music it was playing. One of the teachers, with little tact, asked, “Does that music really make you happy”? Obviously he didn’t enjoy the finer things of life!

Anyway, that disarming comment made me realize more the chasm that separated African and non-African (American missionary?) thinking and likes. And, to whom were we called to minister???