Artistes shun 'Mama Africa'
Sadeke Brooks, Gleaner Reporter
Despite mounting concerns and fear of the Ebola virus among Jamaican entertainers, bookings for shows in various countries on the African continent continue to stream in.
Dancehall artiste Kalado performed in Zimbabwe only weeks ago, but he says he has reservations about visiting African countries.
"I am concerned, but we wouldn't take bookings from the affected countries," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
The current outbreak of the virus, which now has a high fatality rate, includes symptoms of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. So far, there have been outbreaks in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. There have also been a few cases in Nigeria and Senegal.
Earlier this week, it was also reported that an Ebola victim is currently in Texas, United States.
While the majority of the cases are in West African countries, Kalado is still hesitant.
"With the virus thing you have to be very cautious. I am not going back until they find a solution for the pollution. And it depends, 'cause to how it (the virus) a move, if it coming to America now, who to tell where it will go," he said.
Booking agent Sharon Williams of Juke Boxx Productions has also expressed similar fears.
"I am a little more concerned about Ebola than the artistes. The artistes are concerned because it is just loose. I travel three or four times each month and nobody asks where I've been in the last six weeks," she said.
Meanwhile, she says she is still getting numerous requests from African countries.
"The bookings have continued to come in. People (artistes) are considering the other places. While we are hesitant, they are pretty willing to go outside of West Africa," she said, noting that she recently turned down the request of a promoter in the Ivory Coast who was hosting an Ebola benefit concert.
Williams noted that in recent times, there has been a lot of interests coming from East African countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as southern countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Jerome Hamilton, head of Headline Entertainment, another booking agency, confirmed Williams' claims that the main reggae and dancehall markets are in East Africa and some in the southern sections of Africa. He also said they have been getting bookings from these areas. He, however, stressed, that none of his clients are booked for shows in West Africa.
"We don't have anybody going to the affected countries. Africa has over 50 countries, so it is business as usual. For West Africa, it is just a wait and see, before we think about going there," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
Hamilton also stressed that precautions are always taken when venturing into African countries, whether for viruses or outbreaks of violence.
Although Jah Vinci ventured close to the affected areas in May, when he performed in West African country Gambia, his manager, Craig Fullwood says, there are no plans for him to return to Africa in the near future.
"We are not planning on going back there any time soon. We are definitely watching that Ebola. There has been interests from Kenya and Uganda but we are definitely watching the Ebola virus," he told The Sunday Gleaner.