By Simeon Mpamugo*
All is now set for this year’s Nigeria Reggae music festival which kicks off on Friday, November 11-13 at the Trade Fair Motel, Trade Fair Complex, Badagry Expressway Lagos.
The event is being organized by the Music Africa Awake Foundation in conjunction with the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and in partnership with Amuwo Odofin And Oriade Local Council Development Area (LCDA).
Over 16 Reggae artists are expected to mount the stage for the entrainment of visitors to the show at the two-day event.
With heightened animosities in different parts of the world and Nigeria in particular, Music Africa Awake Foundation (MUAFA) a non-profit organization is restating its commitment to ensuring peace and co-existence among different ethnic nationalities of the country through the instrument of reggae music.
Founder and chief executive officer Prince Emeka Ojukwu said at a media launch that the event was the fashion to herald peace and unity as well as eradicate xenophobic attacks in Africa.
He said. “We have discovered that Africans don’t love themselves and Nigeria happens to be the most hated of African countries. A little traffic offence that could be overlooked by other Africans, is taken seriously when it involves a Nigerian.
“We want to use this platform to preach brotherhood. We are people who complement each other. Some of the best doctors in South Africa are from Nigeria.
He disclosed that the mission of the event was to use reggae music to sensitize the youths to say “no to crime and violence and to embrace art.”
“We also want to awaken the senses of African people to understand that Africa is one but buffeted by disunity hence the need for a collective action to rescue it from all forms of inanities, for the benefit of our next generation of leaders.
“Today, trust is at a deficit in many localities such that the population of intermarriages had dropped from one community to another. But we are committed to using this festival in preaching against it. We are from one source, which is Jah,” Ojukwu said.
In his presentation, the group’s marketing Consultant King Oke-David revealed that “music is a powerful tool that gives an artiste a life even after he is gone.”
He cited artists like Majek Fashek, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh whose works are still breathing even though they were no more.
He regretted the government’s neglect of the art which was supposed to be used in healing our nation, bringing development to the country and helping our youth to grow.
He said. “The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of America today is helped by Hollywood and music courtesy of musicians like Kanye West, Gary Himelfarb popularly known by his stage name as Doctor Dread who founded RAS Records, and late Michael Jackson’s repertoire of songs.
“Music is also a powerful part of software, films and entertainment awards. The music for every theme of an award event is recognized”, he stressed.
He disclosed that the essence of the Festival was to use music to reveal the wonders of Africa and Nigeria in particular. “Yes we may come from different parts of countries and nations but we are fused by different dialects to form one Independent, united nation with diversities”, he said adding that “the only thing that unites us is music.”
“Reggae music is a unifying factor we want to use to help the country grow. We also want to use it to engage our youth and save them from Ponzi and drug addiction.”
He noted that for the first time a Nigerian youth Davido had a show in Times Square New York and made over N3 billion in one night, adding “Imagine when we have over 200,000 Nigerian youths doing good music lyrically and travelling around the world, Nigeria’s economy will be improved.”
He said that the idea of the festival was muted when the organization felt that Europeans had taken the best of us: gold, silver, artefacts and medical professionals, adding that it was time we took back what they had taken from us through music.
He noted that no nation achieves greatness by divisive tendencies but by harnessing all her talent to make headway. “We don’t need any war again. What we need is peace, and reggae music is the music of peace. Like every other movement, reggae has its philosophy, one of which is a culture of sound lyrics.
“It is not just entertainment, there is an ideology and a way of life behind the music; which is a progressive way, and lifestyles of better people.”
He emphasized that his outfit aims to promote African culture, develop African musicians, discover, groom, mentor, produce, promote, manage and market talent in music, arts and crafts, fashion and culture-related activities in Nigeria, and equally present African modellers in the manner of our culture and heritage.
“We also intend to use this platform for cultural exchange between the Caribbeans, Jamaicans, Nigerians and Africans in Diaspora. It is a tool we have carved out to bring tourists to the hosting state. So part of what Nigeria Reggae Festival wants to do is to make sure that our culture is preserved hence we have local artists and their foreign counterparts to showcase themselves to the world in the three days reggae fiesta.
“We observed that African music is not harnessed and managed well hence most talented Nigerian artists travel outside the country, looking for pacts that will take them to stardom. These anomalies informed the registration of the group in five different countries including Nigeria to ensure that Nigerian artists don’t have to wait for collaboration with foreign artists before they can make waves abroad.”
King Oke-David iterated that the organization considers the issue of sustainable financial independence for the artists, social responsibility and empowerment in the arts and entertainment vital, hence it believes in the artists being Independent. “There is no small artiste. The only thing that separates artists is the platform they use. We want to bridge the gap between the big artiste and the small one by providing the platform for as many Nigerian artistes as possible to showcase themselves.”
He said that the Nigeria Reggae Festival was the first of its kind in the world adding that the event was purely for reggae music.
Some of the root reggae artists to headline the event include: UK based Jethro Sheeran, Daddy West, one of the best reggae artists in Nigeria with a single Dem Dey and Nigeria’s upcoming reggae sensation G3 Ogiji who has been signed on for the release of his work and a tour of Europe by Wolf Entertainment of Germany.
Others are Bob Ejike, Ibrahim Badingu, Black Czar, Ras Asa Johnpaul, Larry Xto Man etc. There will equally be a seminar on music and health as well as an art exhibition. The event is promoted by Mustafa Worldwide Promotion and sponsored by Y.Y Air Cargo, Checkers Africa Ltd.