Click here to print page

Reggae Day looks to London

Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The United Kingdom's impact on reggae is the focal point of this year's International Reggae Day, which is set for July 1. The celebration also salutes the 50th anniversary of reggae by using Toots and The Maytals' Do the Reggay and Larry and Alvin's Nanny Goat as the music's launching pad.

International Reggae Day conceptualiser Andrea Davis told the Jamaica Observer that with just under one month to go before the 24-hour media festival, plans are taking shape.

“We are finalising a list of media specials all over the world. Triggered by the Windrush scandal a few months ago, we have been forced to look at the UK and its importance to Jamaican music being an international force. As a result, we have licensed a number of events in the UK which will be staged on July. Once we have the final list, we will make it known,” she said. “We are also producing a digital magazine entitled July 1; this will feature some of the fantastic posters created by artists like the late Michael 'Freestylee' Thompson.”

The Windrush incident in the UK involves legal Caribbean residents wrongly identified as illegal immigrants and deported to their countries of birth. The SS Windrush was a ship that took many West Indian people to the UK in 1948.

Despite International Reggae Day's strides since starting in 1994, Davis said the event still struggles in Jamaica where it was conceived.

“Technology has made it much easier to reach a global audience. By 1996 when the Internet was first launched, our dream of reaching the world came closer to reality. The possibility of mobilising the ambitions of 100 million was a more pliable model. However, on the home front there is still a disconnect between capital and culture,” Davis explained. “Perhaps it's the fact that it is not a physical festival. But we will continue with this blueprint. It may take time but it is our belief that one day, when the time and balance is right, more persons will come to appreciate the concept.”

This year, Davis and her team are reintroducing the Reggae 360 initiative. This sees a number of business establishments, including salons, spas, restaurants and boutiques, offering discounts and specials to persons wearing reggae colours — red, greed, gold and black.