The Role Of Reggae Music In The African Liberation Struggle

On 28 February 2012 AISA, the City of Tshwane and the Jamaican High Commission hosted an Ambassadorial Forum in celebration of Jamaica’s National Day at the Ditsong National Cultural History Museum. The forum was chaired by Dr Joseph Diescho, Director and Head of International Relations and Partnerships at UNISA. Mrs Neo Malao, Executive Manager at Ditsong Museum and Dr Matlou, CEO of AISA delivered the opening and welcome addresses followed by Her Excellency the High Commissioner of Jamaica, Mrs Norma Taylor Roberts.

In her speech, the High Commissioner informed the audience that the event formed part of Jamaica’s 50 years of celebrating political independence and that the entire nation of Jamaica, including those in the Diaspora will be commemorating this milestone with special activities all year long highlighting the country’s nation buildingexperience and the successes of its people, taking into consideration the strong historical, political and cultural connection between Jamaica and South Africa.

Mrs Faith Kgaditse, member of the Mayoral Committee for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture at the City of Tshwane mentioned that, ‘the struggles for freedom of Jamaica and South Africa co-exist and the Ambassadorial Forum
confirms the relationship that is strong and deeply rooted in close political, cultural and fractural bonds between South Africa and Jamaica. It is in this connection that we are proud of the principled activism which we pursued in the international arena during apartheid through the work of our writers, musicians, politicians, orators and artists.’ She promised to work together with the High Commission of Jamaica and AISA in the promotion and facilitation of ‘people to people’ interaction and Jamaica’s shared vision of equality, justice, democracy and development.

The keynote address was delivered by Mr Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper, founding member of the renowned Jamaican Reggae Band Third World and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association. In his speech, Mr Cooper narrated the history of reggae music from where it emerged and the events that led to its appeal on global stages. ‘The human desire for freedom, equal rights, justice, love and peace is ingrained in our spirit, mind and body and is evident in the involuntary love for life that makes even the suicidal person struggle to remain alive at that ultimate moment when life is about to leave the body. Entrapped beings will initially struggle to be released. Some do succumb to the seeming futility of their effort due to consistent pressure but there are those who as the reggae artists say “Can’t cool, can’t quench”. On the African continent, ones of this disposition started to resist as soon as the colonisers’ intentions became evident,’ said Cooper.

Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile, the Special Advisor to the Minister of Arts and Culture and Ms Naomi Ribbon Mosholi, International Relations Manager of the African National Congress shared the same sentiments of the other speakers by wishing the Jamaican government a prosperous future. Small business enterprises were invited by the organising team to exhibit their products. There were also live reggae musical performances led by Mr Colbert Mukwevho and the Rasta Family, and South African reggae artists from Venda. Other artists such as Dawit Tafari, Jamaican Durban-based reggae artist, BornAfrikan, a Malawian reggae artist, Sista Ites a South African reggae artist from Pretoria and Carlos Djeje a Mozambican/South African reggae artist performed throughout the day.

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