“In the beginning was the word…”
I was about 16 years old when I first glimpsed the future.
I had gone to a show at City Hall, Port of Spain. These tall, dreadlocked (not a thing back then), militant-looking guys ran onstage, raised a Black Power fist in the air and commanded “Stand firm for your culture!”
They then launched into a hypnotic drum and bass groove, chastising those in the audience who chose to turn their backs on the struggle and the culture and instead preferred to “put on yuh dancing shoes...and gone to de disco”
They were called The Network Rapso Riddum Band. I had never heard or seen anything like it. But I knew this was the future sound of Trinidad & Tobago. And I knew I had to be part of it.
I got my chance a decade later, in London. There I was fortunate to be part of two seminal albums and countless tours.
I was able to see Brother Resistance and company Rock De Colonial Order and Ring De Bell for freedom from London to Berlin to Paris to Antwerp to Rotterdam and beyond. Ring it all over - yes, even inna Buckingham Palace.
You have to remember this was the 1980s - Nelson Mandela was still in solitary confinement in a South Africa riven by apartheid. In a continent where most countries were not even a quarter-century beyond colonial rule. So when he strode onstage like a colossus and ordered the people to assemble at the sound of the bell, this was a revolutionary act. When he stood in the middle of Rome and told a crowd of tens of thousands of Italians that their national icon Christopher Columbus had told a “Big Dutty Lie”, this was a real “unpopular opinion”.
Lutalo Masimba - thanks for allowing me to be part of your mission to “Touch de Earth With Rapso” - the “power of the word”. To raise environmental awareness with “Mother Earth”, many, many years before it became “fashionable”.
“All things come from her, and to her all things must return”.
Rest in Power as you walk in the Glory of Kings…