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Updated: Sep 8, 2020

On November 21, 2019, Liberian native Kahnma Karnga released her long awaited single, Thunder.

The lyrics: gentle and rolling in Bassa dialect that must be heard with open ears. The music: groovy and singable, seeping into the listener’s subconscious hums. The wistful sweetness and relaxed Africanism shines in this love song that tells the tale of a patient romance with high standards.

As I listened to this song for the first time and watched the video full of beautiful humans enjoying life on a Hawaiian coastline, I was struck by a deeper meaning that probably would only unfold in a context that may not be obvious to everyone: the story of the artist herself.

I met Kahnma on the side of Kilauea volcano when the glow of Pele could still be seen in Hale’mau’mau crater. While driving in the darkness to the volcano’s summit, I and my partner spotted two women walking up the road. It was cold and they were a country mile from the caldera. I knew they weren’t from ‘round here, so I stopped and asked if they wanted a ride. They were like, “yeah.” So we went to view the lava together. Kahnma and her godmother stayed with us for the remainder of the evening. We stayed up all night and Kahnma told me about how she found her voice.

We No Need No Fuss

On Christmas Eve of 1989, civil war broke out in Liberia for the first time. Since the founding of Liberia in 1847 by Africans who had been enslaved in America and escaped (Americo-Liberians), no indigenous Liberian ethnic groups had been in power on their ancestral land. This created great generational tensions between the two groups that finally came to a head. Kahnma, a Bassa girl, was 9 years old at the time. She, along with over 100,000 others, fled Liberia to seek refuge in the United States. Torn from her ancestral home and separated from her family, Kahnma grew up navigating the tumultuous waters of black Americanism, ultimately settling to raise her two daughters in Hawaii.

To overcome the challenges of unfamiliar territory, funny money, and unkind people, Kahnma assertively found her voice and used it. She worked hard, built a music career, and in 2017, was nominated for a Na Hoku Hanohano Award (the Hawaiian equivalent of a Grammy Award).

Kahnma’s honors, high esteem in her community and notoriety throughout the Hawaiian islands are commendable. Yet, these accolades are merely the consequence of Kahnma’s ability to reach for love in the midst of chaos with the understanding that tomorrow doesn’t have to be like yesterday.

For Wettin You Want Go Spull Lay (for what thing you want go spoil it)

In Thunder, Kahnma sings about a lover who tries to mess up a good thing. We don’t know why. Maybe they think it’s too good to be true. Maybe they don’t trust it. Whatever the reason, the relationship doesn’t roar like the thunder it could be.

Sound common, eh? People are well versed in the rhetoric of impossibility and will even fight to maintain defeating beliefs. Learning to accept and give love can be challenging in a world where we are taught to fear one another. Generational legacies of suppression don’t help alleviate that fear, as we can see and feel the results of lovelessness over time. Still, it’s important to remember that while all that bad was going on, there was also a lot of good happening. The sun kept shining. People kept meeting and having babies. We’re still here. Moreover, people who suffer and survive gain insight that enables flexibility and the ability to see what others cannot.

When we overestimate the significance of the bad and spoil the good, the bad looks bigger and the good looks impossible. But that’s just a perception. In reality, everything is. When we look around with the goal to be thankful, we search for the good. Then, we see it. The good is the simple stuff, yo; the stuff we take for granted because it’s always there.

Love Is a Muscle

Growing beyond hurt requires work. When you’re sore, it seems counterintuitive to work harder. But the soreness is a result of weakness. Strength building involves the process of breaking down muscle fibers that then rebuild themselves better. Hurt people can’t just keep repeating the same patterns and expect to heal. When we are hurt and afraid, hurt and fear feel safe because they are familiar. If we can’t see the possibilities for better, we have to do better anyway to break those bonds with hurt. Then, we must trust that our spirits will naturally rebuild stronger, healthier bonds.

That’s faith.

The trust required to let go of the past and allow the unknown and unfamiliar to take over is supernatural. It’s knowing beyond seeing. In many cases, we take that leap of faith and find a ground that is soft and close. People throughout the world have found happiness, joy, love, peace, security, and financial abundance because they decided that a failed pursuit of happiness was a better life path than standing there, hurt.

That’s courage.

No one escapes bad and finds good without taking risks. Courage always pays, even if the payment is a lesson. Overcoming huge obstacles builds self trust: if you lose everything, you’ll be ok. The weirdest thing that can happen is that you die, which is gonna happen anyway.

That’s wisdom.

We Should Be Roaring

We have to trust ourselves. We have to take risks. We have to know we’ll land. That’s the only way we can overcome our fears and roar the way we were intended. There is nothing stopping us but us.

In reflecting on Kahnma’s journey towards the release of Thunder, I’ve come to the conclusion that Thunder is a love song to all of us. It’s a reminder to use our love muscle, step into our power, and defeat those beliefs and internal blocks that keep us from living our most fulfilling lives. Then, we can participate in the love that was there all along. After all, why should the Thunder have all the fun?

The song inspired me to write this, but Kahnma said it best. Check out the lyrics to her new single, Thunder. Buy it. Share it. Stream it. Dream it.

This thing we do so make me wonder


Where I go sit and I go ponder


Will this love go take us unda

Ah ha


We should be roaring like a

we should be roaring like a


We should be roaring like a


We should be roaring

Thunder roar


Thunder roar


Thunder roar


We should be roaring like a


The thing they say opposite attract oh

Oh oh oh

You be like this I do like that oh

Ay ay ay bah

Wettin you want no need to ask oh

Ah ha

I get it for you matter of fact oh

Fact oh

For wettin you want go spull lay (for what thing you want go spoil it)

You want go spull lay




This could be us oh baby

Oh baby

We no need no fuss oh baby

Oh baby

Love is a muscle baby

Oh baby


Blog entry © Cathryn D. Blue, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Thunder Lyrics © Kahnma Karnga, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Photos courtesy of Gabe Howard

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