Jamaica’s Mutabaruka echoes call for release of kidnapped Nigerian girls

International Roots Homecoming Festival 2014, Gambia
International Roots Homecoming Festival 2014, Gambia

Jamaican Rastafarian dub poet has joined the chorus of global condemnations against the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerians by the militant group ‘Boko Haram’, calling for the release of the secondary school girls who have been held captive for almost a month now. More than 300 girls were abducted on April 15 from their school in Chibok in the country’s remote northeast. Fifty-three escaped and 276 remain captive. The kidnappings have triggered international outrage with protests and a social media campaign being intensified. The United Sates First Lady, Michelle Obama has been leading campaign for the release of the girls under the slogan “Bring Back Our Girls.” But even Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abulaziz al-Sheikh condemned the kidnappings, saying “Boko Haram had been ”misguided” and should be ”shown their wrong path and be made to reject it”.

Mutabaruka
Mutabaruka

Adding his voice to this condemnation, Mutabaruka could not hide his outrage over the kidnappings. Born Allan Hope,Mutabaruka is currently taking part in the 11th Edition of the biennial International Roots Homecoming Festival 2014. He made the solemn call last Saturday at the Independence Stadium in Bakau before thousands of spectators who gathered to witness the nightlong musical concert. The concert featured prominent artistes including African-American singer, Yewande, one of the most-sought after independent artistes in the world, who is referred to as the “First Lady of Alternative Soul”; Jamaican artistes Sizzla Kalongi, Scratchylus and daughter, Empress Reggae, as well as a handful of Gambian artistes. Known for his unapologetic speaking about injustice, Mutabaruka didn’t mince his words when he condemned the kidnappings and challenged African leaders to measure up to their responsibilities in freeing the innocent girls, who were threatened to be sold as slaves by the ‘Boko Haram’ leader.

The artiste also stressed the need for visa waiver to enable Jamaicans and other Carribbeans reconnect to their roots given the trouble encountered in making their way home. Similarly, he also stressed the need for direct flight between Caribbean and African countries.

Mutabaruka urged African governments to divorce themselves from the colonial legacy, citing the visa requirement asone of them. “This will not stop us from coming to our home, Africa but we are saying there is psychological imbalance when we recognised that we are going home and we have to come through European countries as there is no direct flight to Africa from Caribbean countries,” he concluded.

Hatab Fadera
Hatab Fadera