Two-continent tour more than just performances
Published: Thursday | June 17, 2010 0 Comments and 0 Reactions
Yasus Afari lectures and advises in Africa and Europe
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
It has already been a busy summer for poet and author of Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica's Gift to the World, Yasus Afari, and he is not showing signs of slowing down. Currently on the United Kingdom (UK) leg of his dual-continent tour, which ran from April 26-May 24 in Africa followed by the current May 27-June 30 stint in the UK, he has been performing multiple roles.
The tour focuses on 'one earth, one love, one humanity'.
Afari has been performing with and without music, hosting workshops, visiting schools and prisons and even admonishing high-ranking politicians. In early May, performing at the Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA) in Harare, Zimbabwe, with reggae band Transit Crew, Yasus Afari said:
"... It is time that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangrai and President Robert Mugabe recognise one another as African brothers and that they do away with the power struggle as Bob Marley had advised 30 years ago. As brothers, they need to get their act together. Zimbabwe, Africa and the world depend on them to turn the page to a new chapter - with new prospects for the country irrespective of colour or creed, and irrespective of the mistakes that are now history. They must take the higher ground and write this new chapter in Africa's history".
In an email interview, Afari told The Gleaner: "my Zimbabwe performance was of special significance based on several factors. HIFA was well promoted, my appearance was well 'full-ticipated' and my backing band, 'Transit Crew', is also very good and well loved and the people loved the synergy. I connected with the people with the insight and relevance of my message; in a way, that was in harmony with where the country is and what it needs right now - 'inity', love and harmony by all people of the country. I addressed the leaders and citizens in a way that most people wanted but lacked the courage to do. In addition to this, the way I openly addressed and admonished the president, the prime minister and the political impasse without taking sides, as many artistes do, was refreshing and inspirational. I had a number-one song there and it was my first appearance."
Then there was the dub poetry workshop 'Writing True Histories and Speaking our Legacies', held on May 21 during the Jozi Book Fair at Khanya College, South Africa. At the workshop, Afari says, "I shared my unique insight and techniques that I have developed and employed over the years, with my vast experience. I highlighted the connection between language, thoughts, the mind and culture and how dub poetry can reconstruct our consciousness, showing how I use my poetry and iPen as a surgeon uses his/her knife."
Consistent and relevant
He used the opportunity of lecturing on Rastafari at the University of South Africa to spread the word about the August 17-20 inaugural Rastafari Studies Conference at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
Afari said "there are relatively high levels of ignorance, misconceptions, misperceptions and general lack of awareness (about Rastafari). There is, I have found, a genuine academic, scholastic and social interest and intrigue in Rastafari. What I really manage to do quite effectively is highlight the comparative synergies and harmony among the faiths as is evident in our shared spirituality".
Afari said he adjusted his performances and presentations in order to be consistent and relevant to the theme and focus of the particular event. Wales is on his UK tour agenda, including the 'International Poetry at Moelyci' performance with Richard Douglas Pennant of Penrhyn Castle on June 11. Afari said "the Wales events in particular are quite different and varied based on their language, environmental and other peculiar focus".
Some words coming out of the tour should be developed further, as Afari said there were plans to develop on the poems crafted at Khanya College as well as during a visit to an all-female prison.