J'can contingent for four-day reggae festival in West Africa
A contingent of nearly 70 exponents of reggae music will leave Kingston, New York, Atlanta and Miami later this week for Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa, to participate in the inaugural staging of the Abi-Reggae International Music Festival and Conference, set to take place from April 9 to 12.
The combination of a reggae festival and a music and cultural conference is being described as groundbreaking, and the first of its kind on the continent of Africa. The razzle-dazzle four-day event will be headlined by A-list Jamaican acts Third World, Morgan Heritage, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt of the I-Threes, and Ky-mani Marley. They will be joined onstage by Alpha Blondy and other regional West African stars.
Also joining the contingent travelling to West Africa are Dr Julius Garvey, the son of Jamaica's first national hero, the Rt Excellent Marcus Garvey; Mutabaruka, dub poet, musician and radio host; Jelani Niaah, University of the Wet Indies lecturer; Copeland Forbes, legendary tour manager and oral reggae historian; Herbie Miller, cultural archivist, and other cultural luminaries.
The Abi-Reggae extravaganza, is the brainchild of Hon Moussa Dosso, a senior minister of government in the French-speaking Côte d'Ivoire. He visited Jamaica in 2013 and met with key music industry talent and executives on island including Jimmy Cliff and Chis Blackwell, both of who have endorsed the event. Jamaica's former minister of culture, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, is consultant producer for Abi-Reggae and she has direct responsibility for the coordination and management of the entire Jamaican contingent.
"Everything is being done to have a tremendously successful inaugural event," Grange told The Gleaner. "Abi-Reggae will benefit the music industry and Jamaica in a substantial way by strengthening the cultural ties between Jamaica and the continent of Africa," she continued.
During the event, a colourful cluster of stalls will highlight Jamaican and African artefacts and other items of historical and cultural significance. Mouth-watering foods, too, will be included and some of the stalls will showcase tantalising treats. A newly launched reggae radio station in Abidjan - Zion FM - will do a collaborative launch and partnership locally with IRIE FM.
Abi-Reggae is expected to pull tens of thousands of music lovers over the four-day period. The Jamaican contingent will return home on April 14.