THE inaugural Marcus Garvey Day in Jamaica was widely celebrated with music on the National Hero’s birthday last Friday.
It was fitting that before the day was over, deejay Capleton, who appeared on the three main events, was recognised for his contribution to music at the fourth annual Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) Marcus Garvey Awards, at the East Lawns of Devon House.
“I am highly honoured. I want to give thanks to the UNIA movement and the UNIA family. Four corners of the earth, we glorify and magnify the name of Marcus Garvey in terms of redemption, reparation, repatriation, unity, self-awareness, self-reliance,” said Capleton after receiving the award.
At the same event, Mutabaruka copped the Journalism Award for his 20-year-old radio show, Cutting Edge, which airs weekly on Irie FM.
The Jamaican actress Madge Sinclair was posthumously honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I know a lot of you might be saying, ‘isn’t that the poet who walk barefoot all the while, how come him getting journalism award’,” mused Mutabaruka in his inimitable style.
“Well, I have been doing it for 20 years and it has become the most listened to programme in its time for 20 years... We give thanks for the award, especially like how it has Marcus Garvey name on it and we give thanks for the UNIA to recognise that aspect of the work that we do dat is journalism. Give thanks.”
The musical offerings began after an official ceremony at Emancipation Park in St Andrew. It was attended by the pan-Africanist’s son, Dr Julius Garvey, who received the Keys of the City on behalf of his father who died in London in 1940.
After the formalities organised by Claude Sinclair’s Big Stone Records and the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), a number of prominent entertainers saluted the national hero with pleasing performances.
Among them were guitarist Cat Coore, Capleton, Lymie Murray, Paul Elliot, the Informative History Man, Edi Fitzroy, and the relatively unknown Raquel Sellers who rose to the occasion with a wonderful rendition of Michael W Smith and Wayne Kirkpatrick’s liturgical prayer, Agnus Dei.
While incarcerated in the United States in 1925, Garvey wrote the song Keep Cool which was later put to music.
The Baltimore, Marylandbased singer, Jahinti, in his introduction to Keep Cool told the audience: “Most of you never heard it before. But I’ll give you the context; Marcus Garvey wrote this song when he had all right to be very angry.”
Jahinti then chanted “...let no trouble worry, you keep cool, keep cool...”
Empress Sativa overcame serious technical challenges during her performance of Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey. In her second attempt, she had to go a capella but completed her set in powerful fashion.
Marcus Garvey Day culminated with a tribute concert at Eastern Peace Centre on Windward Road in east Kingston.
Promoter Claude Sinclair said the show was “to rejuvenate and rekindle the fire of our black history”.
It was poorly attended but thanks to Turbulence, Sizzla Kolonji, Fred Locks, Aaron Silk, and Capleton, the handful of patrons had reason to scream and shout.