The Rastafarian and reggae community will on July 29 roll out the red carpet to several local and national reggae artists who will grace the movement’s celebrations of the 130th birthday of Haile Selassie I at Kimberley’s Club Cattleya.
THE RASTAFARIAN and reggae community will on July 29 roll out the red carpet to welcome several local and national reggae artists who will grace the movement’s celebrations of the 130th birthday (Earthday) of former Ethiopian ruler and deity Haile Selassie I at Kimberley’s Club Cattleya.
The mid-year reggae festival dubbed the “Tswancehall Tour” is promoted by Extrenetix in collaboration with Club Cattleya, based at the “Indian centre” in Kimberley’s central business district.
The festival, a one-off, full-day event, will kick off at midday on July 30 and will continue until the last drum beat at sunrise the following day.
Local Rastafarian elder Ras Khulu is billed to co-host the shindig, along with Ras Thabs, while the master of ceremonies will be Kimberley’s own reggae functionary Ragga Red Scorpion.
Some of the other artists include Ras Papa Rock and Elder Zicos as well as Raga Dam Dee I of Ventersdorp in the North West province.
The latter says he is a solo reggae artist but is usually accompanied by a reggae band named Yard and Trot that hails from Kuruman, Northern Cape. The Yard and Trot serves as his backing band when he performs around the country.
From Gauteng, the music crew signed up to perform include King Black Yello, Red Eye Chotch and the only female artists in the line-up, Empress Judgement.
This being a festival closely tied up with the Rastafari faith, it is no surprise that the concert concept has a heavy overlay of the Rastafarian doctrine.
Rastafari faith representative Ras Tshenolo Matheatau explained that they are followers of the Marcus Garvey Orthodox movement. They have been operating in the Kimberley locality since 1996.
“As a movement, we are concerned with the development and advancement of humanity and people as a whole. We’re focussed on helping the community develop and advance its own capabilities.”
Matheatau explained their association with the reggae festival.
“On the 29th of July to the 31st of August we will be celebrating the 130th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Haile Selassie.
“He was born on July 17, 1887 in Ethiopia. We celebrate him because he is an icon when it comes to the liberation struggle in Africa and the cultural freedom of all Africans generally. He is an icon not only for us Rastafarians but of Africans as a whole because he is the founding father of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now called the African Union.
“He is the first and only one who was chairperson twice of the OAU and its first founding chairperson. We will be celebrating him and sharing his legacy with our community. We are not Rastas for ourselves but we are Rastas for the community. We invite the community to come and share with us.
“We will have a lecture on Friday (29 July) at club Cattleya. The lecture will be addressed by Doctor Yaa Asantewaa, CEO of the Africology Institute in Durban. The music performance will follow on Saturday through to Sunday. We invite the community to grace our occasion as we will also have exhibitions and crafters on the premises.
“This is also an awareness programme. We have invited different institutions such as the Men’s Forum and the anti-GBV forum and other civic organs to come and share with us.
“We also want to enhance social cohesion amongst ourselves and create a platform where we can share information and build the nations that we want.”
Matheatau hastened to add that the 130th-anniversary celebrations of the birth of Haile Selassie coincide with the birthday celebrations of late former South African president Nelson Mandela.
“Mandela is known as the father of moral regeneration in South Africa. All these things we are about to link up with the moral regeneration theme as well as social cohesion and nation building. That is what Rastafarianism is all about, including rebuilding the African nation after the destruction of colonisation.”
The interview was inevitably peppered with talk about Ethiopia and the civil unrest happening there at present and Matheatau predictably remarked about the ongoing civil strife in Ethiopia.
“Yes … the empire is crumbling right before our eyes. It is upon us as Africans to contribute and ensure that it does not crumble, because when it does crumble it means our legacy is gone as Africans. Because when you look at Ethiopia and human development, Ethiopia plays a very central role in the evolution of mankind.”
About the man at the centre of the birthday celebration itself, Matheatau had this to say: “Haile Selassie means a lot of things to a lot of people. To us as Rasta, he is our king, he’s our redeemer, he’s our saviour. But to a lot of people he is an emperor, a dictator, a politician and a soldier. What is important is that we take out our biassed eyes and focus on his character and his contribution to Africa. He was overthrown by a junta supported by Communist Russia. To us, though, he remains an icon.”
Ragga Red Scorpion, one of the artists scheduled to perform at the celebrations, is a Kimberlite who started out in the industry aeons ago. He said: “It (the festival celebrating Haile Selassie) is very profound and essential to celebrate. I became Red Scorpion through being a Rasta youth. If it wasn’t for Haile Sellasie or the acknowledgement of Haile Selassie as the returned Messiah, our God and king there wouldn’t be Red Scorpion. The relationship between Haile Selassie and Red Scorpion is unbreakable. It is unquestionable also. Red Scorpion is the subordinate to Haile Selassie as the king of kings and the lord of lords, right!”
The artists promised that the festival will showcase some of his albums that he has created over the years.
“It will be a very great show, I promise you. People out there must come and support this initiative which is fundamentally based on social cohesion. It means it is not only a show that is Rasta orientated. But this time we have decided to open it up for the public who can also come and feel the essence and broaden their understanding of who we are and what we represent. The only difference is that we will be doing it through music this time.”