MacKa Ruffin and the Queen Nanny Project
For the past 30 years, reggae artiste Dave McAnuff, better known as MacKa Ruffin, has been living in Japan. Working consistently to strengthen the links between the land of his birth, and his home country, the career musician believes that the answer lies within his Maroon heritage. A chance encounter at an airport led to his plans to executed a festival experience in Japan next year, called the Queen Nanny Project.
"The Queen Nanny Project has been a part of my subconscious for a number of years, and it started taking shape in a most mystical and roundabout manner," McAnuff shared during a recent press briefing at the regional headquarters of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
Two years ago, he went to the Narita Airport in Japan to meet Jamaican music executive Robert Livingston. On checking with the airline, he and his party realised that they had turned up to pick him up a day ahead of schedule. While there, they happened upon a television crew filming the popular Japanese show You Wa Nanishini Nippon He? which translates to - 'Why Did You Come To Japan?'
The reality show visits airports across Japan to interview foreigners as they arrive or depart the island. Following that encounter, McAnuff was inspired to write a song. Now, that song (of the same name) is the theme song for the programme, which airs weekly during prime time on TV Tokyo. It is also the first vinyl record to be released by Universal Music Japan.
Recognising the similarity in sound between 'nanishini' and Nanny, McAnuff conceptualised the Queen Nanny Project. The aim of the project is to give back to Jamaica while further strengthening the bonds of friendship between Jamaica and Japan.
The project will focus on three critical areas: health, education, and culture. "Being a Maroon, it is only natural to continue the legacy of Queen Nanny by playing and teaching the roots of reggae music globally to support the advancement of women and children," the singer said.
Speaking at the launch, Executive Director of the Institute of Jamaica Vivian Crawford said, "The story of Nanny and her legacy to our heritage is impatient of debate." Celebrating the concept and pledging the support of the Institute of Jamaica, Crawford told The Sunday Gleaner, "It is a wonderful initiative, and goes to show that truth will always rise on top, especially during a time when there is concern about the treatment of women. Respect for Nanny is respect for womanhood," he said.
As a first step towards implementing the project, McAnuff donated J$100,000 to his alma mater, Holmwood Technical High School. The school's choir also took part in the launch, performing Jamaican classics such as; Mi Coffee, Mango Time and People Business. The young voices easily joined with MacKa Ruffin and the Uprising Roots Band as they performed their originals, Here I Am and You Wa Nanishini Nippon He.