Sistahfest, Rastafest double
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
In July and August, Upfront Theatre Foundation and Masani Productions are set to do double with Sistahfest and Rastafest.
It is a double within a double of sorts, as Sistahfest and Rastafest will be staged at Nature Village Farm, St James, on July 27 and 28 respectively, while Rastafest will also be staged in Toronto, Canada, on August 25.
Masani poined out that Sistahfest and Rastafest in Jamaica anchor a slate of activities which start July 24. Sistahfest takes the form of an international all-female sound clash, featuring Yumi (Japan), Big Mama (German), Rebel Dawtas (New York) and Luv Bug (Boston). Some of the selectors actually live in Jamaica.
Suzie Q will host the clash, at which Macka Diamond is special guest.
Confirmed for Rastafest so far are Admiral Tibet, Horace Martin, General Trees, Edi Fitzroy, Fredlocks, Natty Pablo, EQ and Iniffa.
Iniffa will also perform in Toronto, on August 25, along with Ijahman Levi and Echo Minott, with others to be confirmed.
"In Jamaica you will have more artistes," Masani said, indicating one of the differences between the two Rastafests.
Masani has been instrumental in staging Rastafest formally since the early 1990s, but points out that it is the development of activities around Rastafari that started in 1977.
Then it was a development organisation, Rastafari conferences held in Canada (1982) and Jamaica (1983) subsequently. In 1993 the name Rastafest was adopted, with Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus starting the performances.
The objective remains the same, though, Masani said the goal is "highlighting Rasta in North America".
If the numbers are anything to go by, then Rastafest is achieving its goal. Masani said there was a 20,000 audience estimate for last year's staging of the free event and she hopes to pull in 30,000 people this year.
Rastafest has got some sponsorship support in Toronto. Masani said that there has been government support for the last six years and Western Union has contributed to four. However, there has not been much major corporate support in Jamaica.
Sistahfest was started in Ottawa in 1996 and moved to Toronto 10 years later.
However, Masani pointed out that Rastafest and Sistahfest are sponsors in their own right. A press release said, in Jamaica, "all proceeds from both festivals will be donated to Nanny's Retreat in Jamaica - a shelter for women and children who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault and carnal abuse".
In Toronto, Rastafest helps to provide scholarships for a man and a woman attending college. Also in Toronto, Masani said there will be a limited number of health-care packages for the elderly, distributed on August 25.
Rounding out what Rastafest has to offer, Masani said, "this year we want to provide the opportunity for a young artiste from Jamaica to perform in Toronto on August 25th", the selection to be done through a talent search.