Jamaican reggae music sweeping African countries


by Caribbean News Now Staff

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Lloyd Stanbury, a well known Jamaican-born attorney at law and music consultant, who frequently travels to Africa, said that reggae music is dominating the African continent.

Stanbury, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer newspaper, said that the African continent has for decades embraced reggae music with great passion. He noted that Abidjan, Ivory Coast, is actually considered to be one of the reggae capitals of the world and, while there recently, he was able to witness stirring live presentations by homegrown reggae bands.

Stanbury, a West Indian trained lawyer, asks whether that is good or bad for Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae.

It could be seen as the global impact of the music. But, then again, what implications does it have for Jamaica.

He said, "The love and respect for reggae music and Jamaica remain strong and was clearly evidenced from my experiences in the many days I spent this year in Ouagadougoi, Dakar and Abidjan. Abidjan is actually considered to be one of the reggae capitals of the world.”

Stanford added, "Reggae music is played and enjoyed everywhere and by everyone in West Africa, and the few Jamaican artistes who travel to Africa for live performances usually experience playing before crowds larger than anywhere else in the world; it is not uncommon for a reggae concert to attract 100,000 patrons in Africa.”

But even in light of the global impact of the reggae pioneers, Stanbury, who is president and CEO of Jamaica Arts Development Foundation Inc, cited what is cause for concern about the present status of reggae in the context of developing trends.

He said the musical works and messages of early reggae pioneers such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Steel Pulse, Jahman Levi, Third World, Jimmy Cliff and Burnin Spear are regarded by Africans as the fuel that carried the flames to burn down apartheid and other injustices faced by the poor black people on the wealthiest continent on earth.

Stanford, the music insider, is of the view that, despite the connection between reggae and the African continent being very strong, there is a contradiction that needs to be reconciled. He said that the bond between Jamaica, reggae and Africa is not only a very strong one, but argues that his bond also provides the basis for reggae’s continued global viability.

He said that Jamaican reggae artistes yearn to go to Africa while the Africans yearn to visit Jamaica.

"We have, however, failed to build that bridge to bring us all together," Stanbury lamented.

He said, “Reggae needs Africa and Africa needs reggae. Apartheid may be gone, but the suffering and exploitation of our brothers and sisters continue."



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