By Perekeme Odon
The 3rd edition of Africa Meets Reggae / World Music Festival; the annual celebration of reggae and black music has come and gone with its thrills, colours, discoveries, improvement and flaws still flaunting the city of Lagos.
Started in 2014 by Victor Tony Essiet of the ‘Mandators’, Africa Meets Reggae has become one of the biggest reggae festivals in Nigeria and Africa. It is identical with tremendous music, and usually attracts fans from all corners of the globe. This year’s event, which took place on the 26 November 2016, featured a large catalogue of performing reggae artistes, musicians and their counterparts’ world over to the amazement of the crowd at the Hockey Pitch, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
Victor Tony Essiet & The Mandators
Photo Credit: AMR
Eljai (BelizeUSA) Photo Credit: AMR
The stage was exquisitely designed and a sight to view with well lit lights for the finest of the evening to accomplish. More than 35 of the best musicians were on stage, including super stars like Victor Essiet & the Mandators, Eljai Royal (Belize/USA), Jethro Lion, Seyi Shay, Sweat, King Wadada, Emperor Zig-zag, REDfyah (Ghana), Captain Blazee, Oritsefemi, Malaika, Presh, Real Man, St. Peters, Rossie, Big Bob (Sierra Leone) Wazobia Band, Nkulee Dube, Faith Okosun, Vicky Vick, T-Banks, Connel McCoy, MC Sweet Batowei and a host of others.
The show opened with outstanding performance by Noni at the early hours of the evening and metamorphosed to showcase Real Man and Papa Latti. The event took a different dimension with the introduction of a potential tomorrow like Jethro Lion; a Garnet Silk look and sing alike who thrilled the crowd with his conscious lyrics in keeping with the preservation of Reggae music, added with his scintillating performance to the bewilderment of everyone. This young man has it all and was even voted the Man of the show by fans that commended his effort compared to last year when he first performed at the festival.
Jethro Lion--Photo Credit: David Whyte
The festival widely touted as the most authentic reggae experience in Nigeria, even though it does not get as much promotion due to less commercialization. The venue, which had been used from the maiden edition in 2014 as well, blended perfectly with the intended theme and atmosphere. It was cool and ambient, allowing celebrators the freedom to move around and enjoy sweet live music.
Oritsefemi--Photo Credit; AMR
Oritsefemi will always be a crowd puller with his years of experience in the music industry. He was a favourite of the younger patrons.He gave a fiery energetic performance and took control of the stage to party with his fans devotedly to the delights of everyone. I have been to a few concerts where he was not in top form,but on this night he was in rare form. He sang audience favourites including ‘Double Wahala”.The splendid night was caught in the web when Malaika was introduced, and the entire equipment ceased to distribute sound. He stood on stage for some minutes, while the stunning engineers were running and struggling to fix the slip. Yes, the sound came back and Malaika upped his performance level, which triggered the peaking of the crowd. His fans were everywhere to support him, and he never disappointed.
Koffi Da Guru =Photo Credit: AMR
Comedian, musician-cum-actor, Koffi Da Guru will never cease to amuse his fans. His outing at the intermission point was a kind of nerves freshening to the crowd. He was uproarious all through his stay on stay serving out different rib tickling, but true to life jokes to the audience, and they loved it. It also afforded them the opportunity to see some parts of Koffi in its natural elements
Seyi Shay-- Photo Credit: AMR
Then came Seyi Shay, who many assumed could not hold her own on a live band but prove all critics wrong. She held sway to her own and reminded everyone that she was in control. Even when the equipment was mute for few seconds, she still tried to make a means out before sound was restored. A good one I will say for her.
Faith Okosun and Nkulee Dube, daughters of Late Sonny Okosun and Lucky Dube respectively were highly present at this year’s festival.They both rendered tunes of their late fathers’ songs with strong energetic presentation. The audience gave them a standing ovation.
Nkulee Dube (Daughter of Lucky Dube)
Photo Credit: AMR
Victor Tony Essiet of the ‘Mandators’ is one of the greatest Nigerian Reggae singers out of Nigeria; he is a classic, a great vocalist. I do not hear enough of him at live concerts apart from the yearly AMR. Most of the artistes gave great sets. Music, on point, backing band on point, pitch, on point, engineer on point, and lighting on point.
Faith Okosun (Daughter of Sonny Okosun
Photo Credit: AMR
Another artiste that performed to the admiration of the crowd is Emperor Zigzag of the ‘Kpokomkpakamkpokom’ fame. His all white outfit with a Mobutu-like cap to match gave him an outstanding presence. I have not seen Zigzag perform in while, after I watched him perform at the Lagos Reggae Festival on 29 May 2016. Zigzag could do no wrong. He thrilled the audience with his reflect performances at all time. He was very bold and confident as an old warlord of the dancehall business right from the early 90s. He also doubled as Victor Essiet of the Mandators’ sidekick by helping him (Victor) stay afloat while performing.
Malaika-- Photo Credit: AMR
One act that stood out in my mind apart from Akintunde Jimi aka Captain Blazee, Emperor Zigzag, King Wadada, REDfyah from Ghana, Jethro Lion is Eljai Royal; a famous TUFF GONG reggae and R n B vintage singer from Belize/USA. In my notes Eljai has 5 stars*****. Decked in an all white outfit, with a red ‘papa’s cap to match. He tore the Nigerian sky down. He sang his reggae classics, and then sang the R n B version of the Reggae versions that he covered. The Nigerian crowd was not really familiar with him even though that was his second time performing at the festival, but they loved his style.
Photo Credit: TOJ Concept
One good thing about Africa Meets Reggae festival is that lesser-known singers are given a lot of time, and same respect accorded to their senior colleagues. No segregation whatsoever. However, in the wee hour of the morning when the show was running late, some artistes were upset when their set was cut short even though they did not voice their displeasure.
For all lovers of great action, not just reggae, this is one festival you must attend. It promises a singular experience, both with regard to the music and for anyone who appreciates travelling and being in contact with new cultures. Victor Essiet and company is to be commended for bringing out young, fresh, new up and coming artistes and giving them a showcase for their talent. One of the most talented singers was Jethro Lion; he had a great rootsy voice with a lover’s rock side. So impressed am I with him, I have mentioned him thrice. That is what the preservation of reggae music is all about, showcasing the new but not forgetting and in fact honouring the old.
Saint Peters-- Photo Credit: AMR
Presh- Photo Credit: AMR
Another peculiar favorite acts of mine on Saturday night and early hours included the King Wadada’s and REDfyah (Ghana) spiritual performances as always. They were never first timers on AMR. King Wadada ran the stage in a 360 pattern, while Red Fyah, in a full-decked white Bobo Rasta costume, adorned with different peeps and ranks really captivated the yearning of the exhilarating fans. Then came the former Jamaica based Rastafarian, Akintunde Jimi aka Captain Blazee in the morning. Blazee performed as if the clock stood still for him. His lively and metrical performance reminded everyone of Joseph Hill of the Culture fame. I was so glad that he did not go bare chested on the show which used to be his trade mark. Nice one Captain Blazee.
King Wadada- Photo Credit: AMR
The festival had a section called the VVIP, described by the organizers as the “venue within the venue for all performing artistes”. It was a dedicated sector for relaxation and also marking one’s time to be on stage. The audience sitting arrangement was splendid as all the seats were encircled with the red, yellow and green Africa colours to the enchantment of everyone present.
However, the crowd was not too disappointed with the non-appearance of some advertised acts like Tuface Idibia, Illness Nana (Ghana), Imeh Bishop, Small Doctor, Patorankings and Pasuma Wonder, since they were cheerfully entertained to the maximum of the total event.
Noni (Show Opener) Photo Credit: AMR
Africa Meets Reggae has been an annual event in Los Angeles, USA, under Echodelic Music and Dub Club Production. The Festival has permanently had in presence world-renowned reggae artistes yearly. The African version (authorization) dock on the platform of Mystic Records USA/Nigeria, a recording and production company being anchored by Victor Essiet of the Mandators which brought the maiden edition to Nigeria in 2014 at Hockey Pitch, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos and also second edition in 2015 at Ember Creek Water Front, Ikoyi and Hockey Pitch, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos with a message for all and Sundry. The theme for 2015 was “Voice of the Voiceless”, while the theme for this year (2016) is “One People” with world and internationally recognized and locals in attendance.
Wazobia Band-- Photo Credit: AMR
The festival is also to celebrate reggae, its legacy, achievements, and roles in the shaping of the human perspective to each other. It is meant to provide a platform for budding and established artistes to perform with live band to a large live audience and many more. The Africa Meets Reggae is a platform that preaches peace, love and unity through music; to empower the youths/elderly and be the voice for justice for all citizens of mankind and create an atmosphere of togetherness amongst the Nigerian entity, Africa and the world at large. See you next year…
REDfyah of Ghana on Stage-- Photo Credit: BSA Media
Captain Blazee Performing-Photo Credit: TOJ Concept
Interview Time With Captain Blazee- Photo Credit: TOJ Concept
Veteran MC- Tolulope "Sweet Batowei with Blazee & Conscious Band
Photo Credit: TOJ Concept
Interview Time with Jethro Lion- Photo Credit: David Whyte
Jethro Lion on Stage
VIP Exterior Seats
VIP Exterior Seats
Jethro Lion on Stage
Captain Blazee on Stage
Captain Blazee & The Conscious Band
#AMR2016 Music Festival
Culled From http://perewinkle6.blogspot.com.ng/2016/12/mandators-eljai-jethro-lion-others.html