Davina Henry, Staff Reporter
Hundreds gathered at the Ranny Williams entertainment Centre on Saturday night to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela and the impact his legacy had on Jamaicans.
Formal ceremonies aside, local artistes, poets and musicians took to the stage for the free event which was put on by the Ministry of Youth and Culture in conjunction with Digicel and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission.
While there were several sombre moments throughout the artistic celebration, it was a predominantly joyous occasion for those who came out to pay their respects.
Though unable to be at the event because of an overseas engagement, Minister Lisa Hanna, via a video message, recalled her first encounter with the iconic leader in the days during her tenure as Miss World.
"He had a profound impact on my life and made me decide to do what I am doing now ... . The purpose of this concert is to give all of us an opportunity to share in Mandela's life. We have a responsibility of protecting his legacy. Jamaica played an integral role in the freedom of South Africa and the world need to see that we remain committed to South Africa and keeping the legacy of Mandela alive," Hanna said.
Donisha Prendergast, granddaughter of Bob Marley, also recalled meeting Mandela. She likened Madiba, as Mandela was called, to her grandfather and also urged the government to be true to the words of Mandela and give Jamaicans the human rights they deserve.
The audience was fêted by the L'Acadco drummers, Ras Bogle and pianist Cathy Brown before making way for Bongo Herman, who had the distinguished opportunity of playing for Winnie Mandela in the past. The percussionist had audience members singing along to Bob Marley's Rastaman Chant and Bob Andy's I've Got To Go Back Home.
Mutabaruka's set was even more profound with songs detailing South African artistes' cry for freedom and equality, including Miriam Makeba's Piece of Ground, Hugh Masekela's Coal Train and Ladysmith Black Mambaza (chorale).
A poignant moment during the artistic celebration was when Ibo Cooper stated how Mandela Park got its name.
"February 11, 1990, we organised an event at then Half-Way Tree Park. It was the day that Mandela was freed and it wasn't organised by the Government. Let me tell you something, that day, not one pickpocket or anything like that happened because it was a conscious occasion and, on that day, Mutabaruka said, 'This park will now be called Mandela Park.' Two years later, Mandela came to Jamaica. This time, it was organised by the Government and a man got shot in the bleachers," Cooper told a chuckling crowd.
Dr Michael Abrahams also earned 'forwards' from the crowd for his social commentary piece titled 'Heroes'.
Jah Bouks, Iba Mahr, Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje and No-Maddz all delivered outstanding sets, making way for Carlene Davis.
Davis' set included the then theme song for Mandela's freedom tour of the USA, titled Welcome Home Mr Mandela, and a new song written by her husband Tommy Cowan, titled Thank You, Mr Mandela.
By this time, fans were anxiously awaiting Chronixx and his Zincfence Redemption band to hit the stage. He was preceded by Kelissa and Keznamdi, who also delivered entertaining sets.
Opening his set with Smile for Me, Jamaica before seguing into Sweet Jamdung, Chronixx had the audience on their feet singing along.
The event was not without drama as during his performance of They Don't Know, Chronixx explained to the audience how his team was disrespected backstage. During his explanation, his microphone was unceremoniously cut off.
After a few minutes, the power to his mic was restored. He left the stage shortly after.