When you talk about suceess and deep conviction you have to talk about a dub poet by the name of Yasus Afari. Born "John Sinclair" in a small village in the parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, where life was hard and every day survival was a struggle. His mother was his only inspiration after his bigger brother left home to join the Police Force. He always mentioned how is mother used to pray and encouraged him to work hard so that they could lead a better life. He passed his common Entrance exam and went off to St. Elizabeth Technical High School. He did excell and was a major influence on his peer group.
After STETHS he went on to work with the Jamaica Telephone company as a repair Technician but soon find out that there was more to life than climbing telephone poles. He won a scholarship to the College of Arts Science and Technology where a whole new world open up. At college he majored in telecommunications and was a revolutionist against how the system was administered. He participated in all aspect of student life and was a role model for all the students in that era. He was elected Vice president of the Student Council but was denied to serve because of his positive and anti comformative values.This was a major awakening for him and he did some soul searching and that is when he knew he had the calling to do good for the masses. He vowed that he will fight the injustices of the society and bring about conciousness to all the people that would listen to what he has to say.
The social and political climate during this time was rough. Maurice Bishop got killed in Genada, Bob had just died, and so much was happening in the political arena that most youths were looking for a concious vibe. Yasus began doing concerts at the local students union, The University of the West Indies at Mona, The Nursing School and Teachers Colleges. The response was like a shock wave and everyone was taking about Toni Taam as he was fondly called then. He did a several shows with then up coming stars as well as established Artistes.
His first song was realeased in 1986 during this time Yasus went into a period of meditation and isolation while writing consistently.
Yasus began to emerge and by joining partnership with other up coming artist he began to see a light at the tunnel. He met up with Garnet Silk, who was also is childhood friend, and they began to work on a few songs together. On one of his birthday he was hanging with Garnet and he wrote the first line of "I can see clearly". Garnet went on to finish the song and also wrote "I saw Zion........." All this led to a tighter relationship with Silk that gave him the inspiration to write "Nothing can divide............" Yasus and Garnet still have unproduced songs laid out on tracks, to be published when the time is right.
Things started to look up and Yasus teamed up with Maxi Priest to write "Work" which appeared on his "Dance Hall Baptism" (Senya-Cum/Ras Records). Mental Assasin was done on Tappa Zuki label. He has since then recorded with a whole host of musicians Which includes Everton Blender, Black Uhuru, General Degree, Tony Rebel and more who he has also produced. The achievements go far and wide and he was awarded Dub Poet of the year in 1993 in a controversial decision. At the ceremony the award was given to the well known Mutabaruka. Muta refused to accept this award and made it explictly clear that it should be given to Yasus. Yasus went on to win more awards and was also honored in Chiago by Martin International for Dub Poeb of the year in 1994 and Yasus was honored many times by the Jamaican Music Federation. The list of recognition goes on and Yasus always says it is a great honor to recognized for all his work.
Touring with Black Uhuru, Yasus was creating a cultural revolution on a world-wide basis, starting in the US covering 26 States and the Pacific Islands. He was also in Brazil where the fans open heartedly responed to his message. A man can only be king in his home land but it seems as if Africa is his own land. Coming off a tour in Africa he was literally crowned King in Ethiopia and Ghana . He is invited as the guest of honour for the Ghana independence celebration . "Honour Crown HIM" was the number one single in Zimbabwae for months.
During this time Yasus also featured in many press features including gracing the cover of the Billboard Magazine. He also managed to produce his own music as well as that of other artistes and promoted several ground breaking and successful stage shows.
His main showcase is "Poetry in Motion" which is an annual event celebrating Jamaica's poetic heritage.
Yasus Afari took time out to research and write his best selling book "Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica's Gift to the World" as a follow up to work he has developed in Jamaican schools as a "Culture Agent". The book was launched at the University of the West Indies in April 2007 and Yasus Afari started to tour the world promoting the book. This book is used in schools and universities around the world as one of the few comprehensive texts on Rastafari written by a Rastafarian.
Yasus has produced 5 CDs, favoring "Roots Reggae", the lyrically conscious, political form of reggae which has more recently been realigning itself to traditional Rastafarian values. His third CD was "Revolution Chapter 1" featuring his mantra "JAH is the essence of my life" and his international hit "Put it Een.
His best selling poetry book "Eye Pen" was relaunched in October 08 during his UK tour.
Gift of Vision
Jamaica's "Gift of Vision" was another ground breaking compilation CD featuring Yasus Afari with artistes including: Black Uhuru, Beres Hammond, Freddie McGreggor, Luciano, Garnet Silk and Natural Black.
In 2007 during his first UK tour, Yasus supported schools, colleges and universities enhancing overstanding about Black History, while exploring ways with groups how to live together in our plural societies. He was honoured at City College Birmingham as "Reggae Dub Poet and Historian in Residence" during the period of activities marking the Bicentenary of the Act which led the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Africans.
Travelling once again to Africa brought Yasus Afari closer to his roots, this time in The Gambia, to take part in a Colleges Conference with UK colleagues.
Patwa Taakin" is one of Yasus best loved poems and he uses his fluency and bi-lingual skills to perform in English and Jamaican. Yasus is creating a role as an "Ambassador for Jamaican Language and Culture" and is supported by the Univeristy of the West Indies Jamaican Language Unit and the Learning Links International team.
In Australia in 2008, Yasus met with the Australian Friends of the Earth to negotiate use of his poem "The Earth is our Friend" which he uses to exceptional effect in his shows to raise awareness of our responsibilities to the earth. The media took an active interest in his visit and he was interviewed on numerous radio stations, as well as the Australian Reggae TV station. During the tour Yasus was able to record with a leading Australian producer creating a fusion of reggae with indigenous sounds. The memory of HIM Haille Selassie1 visit to Australia is part of local history and Yasus was able to follow in the Emperors footsteps by visiting the Melbourne Park and Gardens.
In Aoetearoa (New Zealand), Yasus was dubbed "The Rasta Ambassador" by the Ngati Dread Maori tribe during his visit to Ruatoria, which has been a stronghold of Rastafarian influence since Bob Marley's tour of New Zealand in the early 80's. Yasus presented copies of his book "Overstanding Rastafari" to the local community, who were delighted and honoured by his visit. In Wellington, Yasus was welcomed by the Maori at the Marae with a Powhiri ceremony and later recorded several tracks bringing a Maori Reggae fusion together.
Yasus was greeted by Rastafarian MP, Nandor Tanczos, who hosted Yasus for a presentation of "Overstanding Rastafari" to the Hon. Margaret Wilson, Speaker of the New Zealand House of Parliament. Yasus' visit was recognized by the Members of Parliament and recorded in the Parliament's Hansard records. Yasus support for the Green Party was further evident in his presentation of his poem "The Earth is our Friend" as he headlined the Green Party fundraising event.
The World Premier of his brilliant "Pomedy" took place at the STETHS International Reunion in July 09, followed by the release of "Kiss Mi Neck" - a spoken word CD like no other and one that you just must hear!
Following attendance at the International Rastafarian Event on Nevis in August 09, Yasus was on way to the US and UK before attending the World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne, Australia, in December 2009 where he is addressed the conference on "RASTAFARI: The Livity of Spirituality".
Yasus Afari continues to delight and inspire with new innovations coming thick and fast.
The story continues ........... Bless it and set it!