CHANDA MWENYA, Lusaka
WITH little on offer for reggae fans during the year other than the Bob Marley and Peter Tosh memorial shows, you always expected the Summer Reggae Festival that debuted last Saturday to be wholly welcomed.
And it was. It was a child born with teeth.
Reggae fans were making their way to the Mika Convention Centre, off Great East Road in Lusaka, for the second time in less than six months.
While the pilgrim in May was to celebrate the life of Bob Marley, on Saturday, they paid tribute to various reggae legends. Call it a heroes’ concert if you like.
On that list of reggae legends, you have to put the likes of Lucky Dube, Peter Tosh, Joseph Hill of Culture, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Jacob Miller of Inner Circle, Puma Jones of Black Uhuru, Garnet Silk, Banny Ruggs of Third World, Irvin ‘Carrot’ Jarrett of Third World, Mr Frankie Paul and Bob Marley, of course.
It is an initiative that has been on the cards for a long time now.
“This is to answer our fans’ call for more reggae shows in the country. The Summer Reggae Festival will be an annual Reggae Festival,” said Brian Shakarongo, who also organises the One Love Reggae Festival held in May.
“We will be celebrating the lives and music of many great Reggae musicians who have passed on but left a huge contribution and legacy on the reggae music scene, musicians whose music has made a huge impact but have not been celebrated properly.”
If you are a reggae fan, you should certainly mark the Summer Reggae Festival on the calendar.
The festival certainly produced a lot of talking points.
The Radicals from Chipata City proudly introduced themselves as the disciples of Peter Tosh. From the look of the length of their natty dreads, they appeared as though they have kept them since Tosh died in 1987.
In their ranks, they had Jamaican reggae musician Don Sizzla, who for him, it appears African repatriation is not just a clique for another reggae song – he actually lives the words. Backed by The Radicals, Sizzla sung from his soul about the African roots and identity.
And of course there was Bongo Far-I who relived the English rock band The Beatles by singing their 1970 hit ‘Let It Be’ albeit in reggae style. Bongo Far-I got Mika Convention Centre skunking when he performed Tarrus Riley’s ‘System Set’ before doing his own composition ‘Uziba’.
Backed by the Reggae Sound Incorporated (RSI), Bongo Far-I was joined on stage by Olivia, who added a feminine mellow with her sweet voice to the male-dominated concert.
Shakarongo’s daughter, Natasha, then later nailed it as she performed Bob Marley’s ‘Africa Unite’ with the father playing drums. The song sat well, particularly, that the audience was cosmopolitan. It was a thrilling moment to see Natasha inviting her father to the stage.
The cool running Ras Anada and Negus Tafari jammed a string of Bob Marley songs, which the audience seemed to enjoy.
Milz ‘The Teacher’ and Cactus Agony added a different complexion to the festival with their performances. For Milz, he sang mostly in Tonga. He did songs like ‘Johane’, ‘Chaona’ and ‘Muzoka’ before ending his set with the crowd’s favourite ‘Pull-Up’.
The impressive Uhuru Vibes also stepped on stage in the early hours of the morning with more reggae vibes.
It was at times difficult to see who was in the audience. But Australia-based reggae musician Larry Maluma could not be missed in the foggy audience.
Days after the show, the irie feel is still there.
CHANDA MWENYA, Lusaka