|written by DJ Afifa|
When I got to the Neville Antonio Park everything was set up and waiting for some poetry through the speakers. This was my second time playing at Dis Poem, I played at the very first staging at the College of Agriculture Science and Education (CASE). I like that the festival is named in honour of the work of the dub poet Mutabaruka.
Ras Takura, farmer and dub poet, is the creator and chief organizer of the Festival. He opened the show. He welcomed and thanked everyone for coming and shared his gratitude for seeing the festival in its 7th staging. He thanked all of those who supported and made it possible and he asked us to clap ourselves. We all did and this signalled the beginning of the open mic segment of this Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Festival.
The morning was sunny and people streamed into the venue to the sound of live and recorded poetry. It has been a while since I attended an all day festival like this. There was a good energy at the festival, it brought back memories of going to “Fi Wi sinting” in Portland during Black History Month.
The group Royal African Soldiers with Ginsu, Neto, Ras Takura performed for the first time together in more than 3 years.
Neto Meeks, whose movement has been affected since suffering a stroke, entered the stage, balanced himself and roared “Iron Lion Zion” slowly and repeatedly. He was followed by Ginsu who introduced the next poem, a poem he says he always enjoys performing the most.
“Got to be brave never be a slave
from the craddle to the grave
thats just my ways
still the fire blaze
hotter than a gage
clear the stage make way for the profit of rage
Royal African Soldiers… RAS
They all performed the poem like they did the first time I saw them 13 years ago. Repeating together the verse overlapping different verses with three distinct voices echoing.
It was also good to see the No Maddz perform. This is their 3rd time performing at the Festival and by the response to their “show closing performance” they are well loved at Dis Poem. “Poo Puku Poo” continues to be a favourite.
Pat Clarke who performed for the first time at Dis Poem entered the stage to Augustus Pablo’s “Jah Light” and had her children perform a poem with her. It was beautiful.
It was good to see different people of different age groups perform different styles of poetry.
We enjoyed the serious, insightful, humorous and powerful delivery of veteran Jamaican Dub poets, Mutabaruka and Cherry Natural. DYCR’s signature sound delighted the festival goers, a combination of his familiar story telling style and the music in his vocal delivery.
If you ask anyone who went to Dis Poem there were many other moments of note and moments to enjoy. There was rain, because it always rains in Portland; but the rain did not affect the show as people brought umbrellas and sheltered under tents at the venue.
I am looking forward to seeing the festival continue and seeing more people participate in the seed for seed exchange, a significant component of the festival. This is a good initiative to promote and support in Jamaica. We need to actively think about Food security and protecting our food supply by saving and planting organic seeds.
Big up Dis Poem! Rastafari keeping African culture alive in word sound.