I am in an African village, staying with a local family. It is a Sunday (or similar day off) and family, relatives and friends have all assembled for a backyard get together. There is a large table with food, and people are in attractive local dress (instead of the Western stuff worn during the regular week).
After some festivities, I notice a high, mournful voice singing – not too far away. I follow the source of the singing, and just beyond the gathering I come upon a young African man, maybe 20 years old, at a keyboard singing Neil Young songs. He’s got the high, whiney voice down perfectly, and for a moment I am simply stunned. He sings one song, then goes on to the next one in the Neil Young songbook. I think to myself, “Some Peace Corps person must have left a Neil Young cassette behind, and this kid has taken it upon himself to learn all the songs.”
My hosts and some others appear and ask me if I am impressed with the young man’s talent. “Is he not great?” I tell them yes, I am impressed, he’s amazing, but I politely omit the fact that his talent is, to me, completely useless. My hosts press on, “Since you recognize this man’s talent and skills, don’t you think he could surely be a success in your country?” I am flummoxed, and try to explain nicely that his talent is astounding and surprising — if you close your eyes it really could be Neil Young — but to me, it is of no interest past the moment of initial shock. My hosts aren’t having it. They KNOW this man is talented — and they’re right — and are therefore absolutely certain that he could be huge outside of their village and surrounds. I again try to explain that in my country, a Neil Young already exists, and an African copy, however faithful, is simply unnecessary.
The discussion peters out in mutual misunderstanding and incomprehension.