Poet makes African debut

Reggae/dub poet Randy McLaren enjoyed a short but culturally eye-opening and inspirational summer trip to Africa recently.

Reggae/dub poet Randy McLaren enjoyed a short but culturally eye-opening and inspirational summer trip to Africa recently.

“My first trip to the continent of Africa was a huge success, after spending almost two weeks in Lusaka, Zambia, where I did several performances and workshops as the featured artiste from Jamaica at the seventh annual Barefeet Arts Festival,” McLaren said.

He added that the trip was in the making for three years, but is happy that his personal dream of visiting Africa actually came true.

“It was worth the wait, because I was more prepared as a performer. I performed at the opening ceremony for the festival, which was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lusaka, and that laid the platform for a successful stint in the southern African country.”

“It was important for me to get that first performance out of the way. I did not know what to expect because, outside of YouTube, the patrons would not have been exposed to my material. But, as a performer, you must be confident at all times so as to convince your audience that you know what you are about,” McLaren stated.

Not just a dub poet, the multi-talented McLaren, known as the ‘Kreative Activis’ for producing riveting social commentary pieces such as The Armadale Fire, is also an actor, MC and facilitator. He was given the opportunity to host a well-attended workshop on the concept of creative activism during the festival.

Reminiscing, he said: “On that same evening, I thoroughly entertained the audience at the Lusaka Playhouse with pieces like A Who Dis,People a Suffer, and Mi Love Mi Breadfruit. I was overwhelmed by the response of the people, who caught on easily to the pieces that I performed. I worked out with a street band from Zambia called Zwamilia Sound, as well as drummers from Barefeet Theatre. It was a great vibe experimenting and working with new sounds.”

McLaren also found his way on the roster for the final concert of the festival, where he shared the stage with some of southern Africa’s most talented and popular artistes like Pompi, Mutinta, the Mwali Sisters, and Hope Masike from Zimbabwe.

“That evening, I reasoned with the MC and told him that I wanted to perform. We approached Pompi, who had his band that was setting up on stage. With permission from the MC and the artiste, I went on stage without any rehearsal and started performing. The band picked up the vibe and followed me. The audience loved it. Talk about stepping out in faith. I give thanks,” McLaren said.

His next major performance was at the National Museum in Lusaka, where he was well received.

It was McLaren’s first time on the African continent, but should not be his last. He did an impromptu studio session at Vibrant Media Studio where he recorded Goddess, which received a strong reception from the people of Zambia during the live performances. He hopes to share it very soon with his supporters and newly gained fans in Zambia.

McLaren has plans of releasing an album next year, and is working with a team to restart the popular live variety event TALK on October 16th at the Spot Sports Bar and Grill at the Students Union UWI, Mona. He also wants to plan a special event to share the experience with his fans, supporters and well-wishers.

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