KELVIN KACHINGWE, NDANGWA MWITTAH, Lusaka, Choma
THOUSANDS of reggae and Bob Marley fans last Saturday thronged, to a point of choking, the once little-known Bongwe Pub and Grill in Lusaka’s Roma township for the rebranded One Love Bob Marley Festival.
It was a massive affair, by all standards.
Shakarongo Music, who have been organising Jah Night for the past 26 years, had partnered with Zirbo Zambia, arguably the biggest sound, stage and lighting company in the country for the show. It was a perfect partnership, with the result being a massive and crystal sound and the atmosphere electric.
The masters of ceremonies, led by Daburiu Star, a radio DJ on Joy Fm, who was amazing, set the tone for the festival with his accurate delivery of Patois, the Jamaican accent and style of English. He was supported by Ras Eustus Chewetu from Hone Fm and Ras Jomo Longwe, a University of Zambia (UNZA) student who was once a regular DJ on UNZA Radio.
To use the old cliché, there was no dull moment at the festival; it was one wave of fire after another in terms of band performances. Undoubtedly, this year’s performances were of high standards compared with previous years with every act that went on that stage deserving to do so.
The only exception maybe Davies and the Wings who sounded unrehearsed and unprepared. The same can be said about Bantu Roots, who on their part, seem to be static on their same old songs without much improvement. Perhaps, they are missing the services of their original lead guitarist Soko Solo, who was on backing vocals and tambourine on the night.
“We are so familiar with the many major names on the Zambian reggae music scene, it’s easy to forget that a whole new other generation is rapidly coming of age behind them,” Brian Shakarongo, who is behind Shakarongo Music, told the Weekend Mail after the show.
Indeed, this year’s show featured a hoard of new and up-and-coming performers who were eager and itching to showcase their brand of reggae and dancehall styles.
A few deserve to be picked out; Bongo Far-I, C-Rib and Tony together with Logmith are some of the artistes who were on fire with their brand of dancehall and lovers’ rock. They are from Reggae Sounds Incorporated (RSI), one of the reggae stables in Lusaka which houses young heavyweights.
Lest one forgets, the evergreen Nasty D together with Burning Youth Reloaded, which is led by Jack Tembo, founder member of the original Burning Youth, both gave outstanding performances to the delight of the audience.
Ras Anada and Negus Tafari was another outfit which gave a good performance.
But the climax of the show came when Uhuru Vybes, an accomplished outfit stepped up on stage to back a flurry of exciting performers; first was Natasha Chengala, who answered the regular One Love festival fans’ call for bands to play more of Bob Marley music than their own.
Natasha started her set with Stephen Marley’s Tight Ship, from the album “Revelation Part I – The Root of life” and followed it up with Roots Rock Reggae and Jamming Before inviting her dad Shakarongo to join her on drums on another Bob Marley anthem Africa Unite to end her set.
She truly lived up to expectation.
Then came Milz the Teacher followed by Cactus Agony who was joined by some young and upcoming rude boys Buch Man and Kalingalinga based Pinto who were followed by Ras Kinky and Kaya Man who brought in more fire through their tongue twisting dance hall lyrical power, before the amazing Ras Peter Bob ended the Uhuru Vybes backed set.
Not to be out done was the Chipata based Radikoz band, led by Jah Billy, they proved why Shakarongo invited them instead of some Lusaka-based bands. Hampheydo, who specialise in music by Culture, was next before The No Parking Band closed the festival with a medley of Bob Marley songs.
If there is something to take home, it is that local reggae artistes can match any standards and the change of name to the “One Love Bob Marley Reggae Festival” is apt. The festival is attracting attendance from all walks of life including embassies.
Perhaps, it is time the corporate world came on board.
In Choma, reggae fans held their third successive Bob Marley memorial concert at the Choma Hotel. It was a fine show even though the playlist was not dominated by Bob Marley’s songs.
“We always hold this concert here to remember our hero. Thanks to Choma Hotel for giving us this place for free and as you can see, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves,” one of the organisers Ras Issak told the Weekend Mail.