Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Cultural Wellness and Culinary Festival welcomes reggae veterans

Published:Wednesday | February 19, 2020 | 12:18 AM
The Mighty Diamonds.
The Mighty Diamonds.

The creation of IRITS Cultural Wellness and Culinary Festival by the outreach and education team from the Rastafari Indigenous Village (RIV) took place two and a half years ago.

Founded and managed by Arlene McKenzie and Firstman (Edward Wray), the festival takes place within the Portobello community on the last Sunday of each month. The event has been growing steadily since its inception.

The Rastafari Indigenous Village hit a high note with the recent appearance and ­celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Mighty Diamonds on January 26, 2020, which evolved out of a partnership with Masani Productions from Rastafest Canada. Mighty Diamonds, the harmony trio of Jamaican recording artistes, are renowned for performing a genre of roots reggae with a strong Rastafarian influence. Formed in 1969, the group is best known for its 1976 debut album Right Time, which became a hit among reggae lovers.

IRITS saw the group performing their I Need a Roof and Them Never Love Poor Marcus, with their megahit, Pass the Kouchie, drawing loud accolades from the audience. The veteran reggae group received a stirring tribute from ­veteran broadcaster Barry G, who took the ­audience down memory lane.

Emerging from a group of Village friends and family gatherings, IRITS evolved into what it is today – a veritable cultural showcase of Jamaica’s brightest and sought-after ­entertainers. IRITS speaks to spiritual balance, peace, harmony with one’s inner being. It is a strictly well-mind, well-body, well-spirit event which incorporates the literary arts, spiritual development, Nyabinghi drumming and reasoning, musical and poetic expressions, arts and crafts, always staying on the cutting edge.

The IRITS cultural showcase and holistic philosophy has attracted an eclectic mix of veteran and youth entertainers, such as Chronixx, Kelissa and Kesnamdi, Luton Fyah, Terry Linen, Ritchie Spice, and emerging artistes such as Rosh Rebel, Kali Grn and d’Rebelz, Dinho Music and Indie Allen.

This Sunday, February 23, RIV welcomes Luciano to the IRITS cultural space between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m..

Born Jepther McClymont, Luciano is ­affectionately known as ‘Jah Messenjah’ and is one of Jamaica’s renowned international second-­generation roots reggae artist. His vast ­discography offers each music lover countless hits like Sweep Over The Soul, among others such as Moving Up, One Way Ticket, After All and Where There Is Life.

The IRITS Festival is inextricably linked with the culinary arts; expert vegan chefs and nutritionists are ever present. The Sunday gathering where people interact and meander within the village, offers a cornucopia of exquisite food and is a major part of the Sunday gathering. The village allows no alcohol or animal products.

Community Support

The organisers have drawn on the RIV for its strength and development, supported by the Nelson family at the Montego River Gardens, the Tourism Product Development Company, and an army of volunteers.

Business operators such as Oral Fernand of Document Solutions, Dr Jodie Tafari of Sekhmet Medical, Mudadah Hammanut from Adwa and V-Spot Vegan restaurant have all come on board.

The festival has enabled new and innovative cottage industry businesses and entrepreneurs to present their products to a ready audience within the holistic environment and beauty of the Montego River Valley.