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A 'Vijaan' for poetry Yasus Afari bonds with his band

Published:Sunday | September 12, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Yasus Afari

While there have been a few significant moves for more poets to perform together over the past few months, last Sunday Yasus Afari strengthened his connection with music at the 'Public Secret' launch of the Dub Vijaan Band, which will accompany him.

Other poets were involved in the launch as guest performers.

Yasus Afari says he had the 'vijaan' to put a band together from childhood, the closest it had come to reality before was when he was at St Elizabeth Technical High School and the College of Arts, Science and Technology (now University of Technology).

Now, he says, Dub Vijaan has been "formed to enhance and elevate the quality, message and spirituality of reggae music and our Jamaican/African - Caribbean heritage and cultural experience, as well as African redemption and Rastafari livity".

There will not only be performances but there are also plans to "deliver workshops, seminars, conferences and direct hands-on training in schools, colleges, universities, community groups, ghettos, prisons, hospitals, mental health institutions ... . Our focus, therefore, shall address social, economic, political, educational, spiritual, mental health, physical health, social health and entertainment, interests, issues and concerns".

The first single from their collaboration, Guide ini Oh Jah, has been released.


Musical accompaniment makes a major difference in how the poetry is presented. Yasus Afari says "presenting poetry without music focuses on the voice as the primary instrument and the words/voices as the central sound. This allows a certain latitude and freedom when compared to poetry with music, recorded tracks, percussions or a band. When presenting poetry with a band, the voice is generally the main lead instrument accompanied with a variety of musical instruments and sounds, vocal or otherwise. This allows for a certain sonar flexibility and creativity that can appeal to a variety of tastes and textures that are not readily available when presenting poetry without music".

Still, there are limitations, as he says "however, the personal vocal latitude and freedom is not as attainable with a band or music as without. Therefore, with music it's more a teamwork - that's pretty much pre-determined - while poetry without music, for me, allows greater individuality and freedom. Both have their time, place and strengths".

- M.C.