One love for Ja in Japan
NOT even morning showers on the second day of the One Love Jamaica Festival could detract from the event's success. Thousands turned out to celebrate Jamaican culture at the June 21-22 renewal of the annual showcase.
The vibe was indeed mellow, as patrons thronged booths selling Jamaican goods and stalls with Jamaican cuisine, as well as food from Africa and Brazil.
This year's celebrations, organised as usual in collaboration with the Embassy of Jamaica in Tokyo, took on added significance. It is one of the events marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Japan.
The list of artistes was headed by the L'Acadco dance company, which made its maiden visit to Japan as cultural ambassadors specifically for this event.
The line-up also included multiple Festival Song Contest winner Eric Donaldson, roots singer Kiddus-I, as well as Japan-based Jamaican singers Monique Dehaney and Mackaruffin. Also putting in special appearances were top Japanese reggae acts Rankin Taxi and Pushim.
L'Acadco, on both days, put on a stirring exhibition spanning the range of Jamaican dance. This included traditional folk forms like the dinky mini and revival, to the latest dancehall moves, all executed with verve and flair.
In one of the pieces, the dancers depicted the excitement and euphoria that greeted Jamaica's Independence in 1962. Another reflected life in Jamaica's inner-city areas with everything from the ubiquitous domino games, to cat fights over men. Donaldson ran though his catalogue of Festival songs, among them Sweet Jamaica and Cherry Oh Baby. He had members of the Jamaican community, in particular, rocking and singing along. Jamaican dancers Raddy Red and Damian 'Gana Gana' Young showed off their moves. Dehaney, Black Blood and Mackaruffin also lit up the stage with outstanding sets, while former Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus vocalist, Kiddus I, served a sizable helping of roots-reggae, backed by a group of Japanese Rasta drummers.
The One Love Jamaica Festival underscored yet again the enduring popularity of Jamaica and things Jamaican, in the Land of the Rising Sun.