Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Women take spotlight at Twelve Tribes celebration

Published:Thursday | September 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Iset Sankofa
Yumi Hi-Power
Iset Sankofa playing at Taste of Africa, a dinner in celebration of the Ethiopian New Year on Tuesday.
Wave Empress

The musical selection was just as flavourful and vibrant as the dishes serves at A Taste of Africa 2, a celebration of Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year. The event, hosted by Motherland Promotions of the Twelve Tribes of Israel at Clieveden Road, Kingston, saw the trio of female selectors that consisted of Iset Sankofa, Wave Empress and DJ Yumi Hi-Power.

"If you came here and you didn't feel moved tonight, I was not here," Sankofa told The Gleaner.

In keeping with her name, the disc jockey follows the Sankofa principle, which, in her words instructs "to return and fetch, so that we can move forward - and so we literally never run out of music to play".

In 2014, the disc-jock kicked off Sankofa Sessions at Nanook (Burlington Avenue) and Redbones (Argyle Road) in St Andrew. Though her style is distinctly Afro, there is no present designation which encapsulates the range of musical sounds and styles Sankofa presents. She has come up with her own definition.

"A lot of people look at Africa in a monolithic way because everyone is on to 'afrobeats'. But we've been playing afrobeats for some time now and we're following in the vein of so many. We learn that Africa is not a single image or a single idea. It's not a single story. What it really is - popular African music borrows from so many places. So our tagline is 'electric Afrobeat cultures," Sankofa reasoned.

Currently, Sankofa Sessions take place every Tuesday at Stones Throw Bar on Mannings Hill Road.




"It's a different theme every week, every Tuesday. And we say 54 kingdoms considered. We don't want to get bottled in. We like to say the past, the present, the remix. The future is a remix of the past and the present. That encompasses Sankofa principles. My vision is to not just create a niche for myself, but a legacy too," she said.

Wave Empress, another of the disc jockeys who entertained at A Taste of Africa 2, has set out to challenge the idea that roots music is boring.

"When I select roots music, I want people to leave with a good vibe, to be filled with resonance and to hear and feel how special roots reggae music is," she told The Gleaner.

Along with singjay and selector Sister Carol and DJ Marshmello, Japan-native DJ Yumi Hi-Power came armed with an arsenal of vinyl records. As the dinner guests moved back and forth between the tables and buffet lines, Yumi's decades-old selection warbled through the speakers - accented by the distinct light pops, fizzles and crackles signature to analog discs on turntables.

She is also one of four subject's of Kaneal Gayle's documentary, Dancehall's Asian Ambassadors, which will premiere at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival in Canada on September 19.