Sizzla Kalonji was honoured by the government of Gambia when he recently performed at a series of events there.
Perceived as a liberator with a cause, Sizzla also acted as cultural ambassador for the 11th staging of the Gambia Roots International Festival in Banjul, West Africa.
The unapologetic messenger infused his lyrics with powerful messages that had a subliminal effect on his listeners.
At the closing gala event of the Gambia Roots Festival over the weekend, Sizzla was presented with a halam instrument by one of the Kora masters. The halam is a traditional wooden stringed instrument used by the Wolof and the Fullas.
At another concert in Independence Square, Sizzla’s backing band functioned like a well-oiled machine, turning out crowd-pleasing hit songs. The original Firehouse Crew comprised of George Miller, Donald Dennis and Paul Crosdale, was joined by David Murray, Courtney Edwards, along with engineers Richard Bramwell, Anthony Williams and Robert Murphy.
The Firehouse Crew gave the audience a taste of the dancehall sensation and liberator. There was one drawback, however, the set was short-circuited by a local power outage. It was evident that the cultural ambassador’s love and message of liberation, freedom and responsibility was well received, because the audience remained under control during the power outage.
Joining Sizzla in scintillating performances were Mutabaruka, Scratchylus, Empress Reggae and African-American pop star Yewande Austin, who were among other international as well as Gambian artistes.
Kalonji’s music catalogue included songs such as Thank You Mama, Solid as a Rock, Holding Firm, Praise Ye Jah, Good Ways and Guide Over Us.
Another demonstration of the audience’s love for Sizzla was evident at a concert staged on Wednesday, May 15, at the end of the exciting Rites of Passage ‘Futampaf’, a Jola initiation ceremony hosted by President A.J.J. Jammeh, where the new initiates demonstrated their personal dance routines.
The president presided over the cultural dance session of Futampaf and participated in the ceremonial rites during the 11th staging of Gambia Roots Homecoming Festival.
Thousands of adoring fans erupted in roars of pleasure followed by cannon salute at the highly anticipated event, organised by the government of Gambia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The successful event is widely regarded as yet another milestone in the achievement of the country.