Arts & Culture


Observer writer

Sunday, January 07, 2018

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YASUS Afari has a clear recollection of the embryonic stages of reggae festival Rebel Salute. In fact, the dub poet is one of the event's architects.

While not associated with the event since 1996, he recalls the events which brought it into existence.

He said the idea for the show came out of planning a birthday bash for Garnet Silk in April 1993.

“I am the one who conceptualised and executed the first two Rebel Salute shows, and things evolved from there. I had always envisioned starting a revolution to own something with the Christian soldiers movement and others we had around us at the time, like Everton Blender and Garnet Silk. I said to Tony Rebel that we should have a birthday bash for his birthday. He didn't like the idea so I said: 'We nah call it that, we a call it Rebel Salute' to represent not just him, but all of us who were rebels in our own right,” Yasus Afari told the Jamaica Observer.

The dub poet said he invested his money and, with the help of his friend Uton Green, the first show was held at Brooks Park in Mandeville, Manchester, in January 1994. He said the festival's 'no meat, no liquor' policy was also implemented by him and is based on his Rastafari faith.

“The energy that was felt at the Garnet Silk birthday bash was replicated at the first Rebel Salute. The energy was just pure and crystal. It was huge. We had Buju Banton, Sugar Minott, Christian Soldiers, Garnet Silk, myself, Everton Blender, Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, among others. It was just something special; people were mesmerised,” he recalls.

Silk, 28, one of the forerunners of the roots revival in the 1990s, died in a fire at his home in Manchester on December 9, 1994. His mother, Etiga Gray, also perished in the blaze.

Yasus Afari said Rebel Salute '95 paid tribute to Silk.

The dub poet believes the event could do more to honour the legacy of Garnet Silk, but is pleased to learn that the late singer's son, Garnet Silk Jr, will be part of this year's staging.

Yasus Afari has mixed feelings about the festival, which he refers to as “his child”.

“Yes. I feel proud because it has accomplished something that is significant to the country and the people, and continues to do so. It has also contributed to the development of Rastafari, our culture, music and artistes. But then no, because 'the child' is not a living entity outside of the people who keep it alive. It betrayed the revolution, trust, loyalty, and me. It could have been more gracious towards what inspired it in the first place,” he added.

Rebel Salute is scheduled to be held at Grizzly's Plantation Cove in St Ann on January 12 and 13.

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