|YASUS AFARI The People’s Poet: One Earth, One Love, One Humanity |
YASUS AFARI – The Versatile, Multi-Award Winning, Grammy Nominated Artiste, Poet and Author. YASUS AFARI is a travelling poet who balances and harmonizes Entertainment with Education, Humanity with Spirituality, Poetry with Storytelling Comedy and Social Commentary. He is a very unique social-empowerment specialist.
Now recognised as one of Jamaica’s national treasures, Yasus Afari is often described as Jamaica’s best kept secret. Yasus Afari’s main poetic event “Poetry in Motion”, will celebrate its 15th annual rendition in February 2018. Poetry in Motion is Jamaica’s Premiere Poetry Showcase and highlights Jamaica’s rich poetic heritage; showcasing leading Poets, Musicians, Dancers, Story Tellers, Authors and other cultural and creative ‘Edutainers’. “Poetry in Motion” is now poised to become Jamaica’s foremost international poetry showcase and is Jamaica’s longest running and most successful annual poetry festival / event in the entire history of Jamaica. Yet, in 2009, Yasus Afari developed The Pomedy Show and in 2011, he also initiated the Jamaica Poetry Foundation and the annual “Jamaica Poetry Festival”, staged in August at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre in Kingston, Jamaica. The Jamaica Poetry Festival is the beneficiary of a special partnership with Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and is staged jointly with Yasus Afari’s SenYAcum Edutainment Promotion.
Deeply rooted in his Rastafarian Faith, Yasus Afari is not only a Dub Poet, but also an Author, Philosopher, Social Advocate and Reggae Artiste of unprecedented insight and inspiration. Yasus is one of the original Christian Souljahs who engineered the Cultural Renaissance in Reggae and Dance Hall music and Jamaican culture in the early 1990s alongside other Rastafarian artistes such as Garnet Silk, Tony Rebel, Everton Blenda, Uton Green and Luciano among others. In the Mid 90’s Yasus teamed up with Reggae legend Pablo Moses and Dele Mandeyah to form “Fathers of Africa” which toured the schools in Jamaica and did a tour of the USA led by Yasus Afari, Everton Blenda, Determine and Dele Mandehyah. The 1990’s and beyond, witnessed Yasus Afari touring the world (including North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean) as well as recording with the likes of Black Uhuru, Toots and The Maytals, Freddie McGregor, Beres Hammond, Benjamin Zephaniah, King Kapisi, Garnet Silk, Luciano, Horace Andy, Sly and Robbie and Natural Black. These potent synergies helped with enhancing his national and international profile while strengthening his impact and appeal and expanding his horizons thereby creating and engineering a “Social Revolution Through Dub Poetry”. In the same breath and process, Yasus released the Afromantic poem “Woman I Love You”, the inspirational, “Teaching of Marcus”, “My Mother Who Fathered Me”, “Patwah Talking”, “Honour”, “Work”, “Dance Hall Baptism”, “I Can See Clearly” ( with Garnet Silk), “Homeless Children” (with Luciano) and the visionary “Brand New World” (with the Grammy winning Black Uhuru), which appeared on the Grammy nominated album “Black Uhuru Strongg”.
The unprecedented impact and appeal of Yasus Afari’s advocacy and social re-engineering work may be measured by, and reflected in, the fact that in 1993 Mutabaruka won the coveted Jamaica Music Industry Award for Dub Poetry but handed it over to Yasus Afari, one of his fellow nominees, who he said “was most deserving”.During this time Yasus Afari received numerous national and international awards and numerous accolades and was featured in many prominent national and international publications, including Jamaica Gleaner and Star, Jamaica Observer, Reggae Report, Dub Missive, Source Magazine and gracing and the cover of the Billboard Magazine, alongside Linton Kwesi Johnson. He also managed to produce his own music and other artistes as well as initiating and promoting several ground breaking and successful reggae stage shows including Garnet Silk Earthday Bash, Rebel Salute, Yasus Afari and Friends and Freddie Mc Gregor Earthday Bash, among others. In 1996, Yasus Afari toured Ethiopia at the invitation of the Ethiopian government and people, to celebrate the centenary of the Battle of Adwa. In 1998, Yasus visited Ghana at the invitation of the Ghanaian government to support Panafest with other performers from over 30 countries around the world. These visits and experiences were reflected in his poetry anthology “Eye Pen”.In recent years, Yasus Afari has been travelling the world with a much heightened, diversified and renewed awareness of his social responsibility as a dynamic social agent of change and positivity. Hence, he continues, with renewed vigour and vision, to share his African Caribbean world view through his poetry while serving all humanity as an agent of change, social cohesion, social intervention, social renewal and social transformation. In Jamaica, as well as the Eastern Caribbean and other countries around the world, Yasus has worked in schools, colleges, community groups, universities and prisons exploring ways to share a better ‘overstanding’ of Black History, while supporting ways for our communities to live and work together in our increasingly plural societies. In the UK, in 2007, he was accorded a very special welcome and honour in Birmingham, as “Reggae Dub Poet and Historian in Residence” at the Birmingham City College during the period of activities marking the Bicentenary of the Act which led the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Africans. Yasus Afari’s ground breaking, epic and internationally acclaimed book “Overstanding Rastafari – Jamaica’s Gift to the World” is an unprecedented book written over a period of five years in response to the need for African Centred information aimed at schools. Yasus’ book was inspired by, and is in harmony with his work in Jamaican schools as a “Culture Agent”. It also served to develop new ideas, perspectives and well needed clarity in support of the interest in and study of Rastafari in the Caribbean and around the world. “Overstanding Rastafari” is now a Jamaican best seller and it explains Rastafarian Livity, roots, development and global impact. This book was launched in March 2007 at the University of the West Indies and since then Yasus Afari has presented “Overstanding Rastafari” in many countries and important institutions including the Parliaments of Jamaica, St. Lucia, Britain and New Zealand. Yasus Afari also visited Anguilla, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis and the presidential palace in The Gambia, where he presented “Overstanding Rastafari” and his recorded music, on behalf of the Rastafari community and Jamaica, to the Parliamentary libraries and other relevant institutions.
“The Pomedy Show” was conceptualized by Yasus Afari, bringing together an eclectic mix of Poetry and Comedy. This was showcased at the 2009 STETHS Reunion and signalled another of Yasus’ innovative inventions which is consistent with his entrepreneurial and edutainment concepts. STETHS, being Yasus’ alma mata, where he actually wrote his first poem, “The Travelling Sun”, was chosen for the world premiere of “The Pomedy Show” so as to strengthen his close ties with his beloved school community. The Pomedy Show was later staged at the Red Bones Café, the University of Technology and Montego Bay in Jamaica and across the UK to overwhelming response.Yasus Afari successful completed his hectic Autumn 2009 World Tour, with promotional activities for his exceptionally well received Spoken Word / Performance Poetry album, “Kiss Mi Neck”, which was launched in Kingston, Jamaica in August 2009 and it quickly joined the ranks of his other illustrious publications, such as his poetry anthology entitled “Eye Pen”, and his other CDs which feature his inspirational poetry. Albums released by Yasus Afari include: Dance Hall Baptism, Mental Assassin, Honour – Crown HIM, Gift of Vision – Yasus Afari and Friends, Revolution Chapter 1, Kiss Mi Neck, Ancient Future and the current Public Secret. In December 2009 Yasus Afari had the singular honour of being invited to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, as an Ambassador of the Parliament and to make a presentation on “Rastafari: The Livity of Spirituality” in addition to performances for delegates and the people of Australia. The response was overwhelming and Yasus is continuing to support the initiatives of the Parliament of the World’s Religions through the interfaith social networking site www.PeaceNext.org, among other initiatives. Other notable events included the launch of “Kiss Mi Neck” spoken word / dub poetry CD in Brixton, London, where there was strong support from the Rastafari community and colleagues such as Linton Kwesi Johnson. “Brothers Making History” featured Yasus Afari with Macka B. Yasus Also supported several UK National Health Services mental health conferences with Professor Fred Hickling and Dr Hilary Hickling; the Croydon Eco Vegan Fayre in London and ‘Green Faith’, a climate change and environment conference. 2010 saw Yasus Afari performing and making presentations in Canada, before returning to Jamaica to lead the seventh rendition of “Poetry in Motion”. The 2010 World Tour saw Yasus Afari involved in a range of activities in Europe and Africa, as well as in the Caribbean and North America. Also in 2010, Yasus Afari and Melissa Dean of York University (Canada) hosted a group of dub poets at the Undercroft of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica for an innovative presentation, “If Hearts Could Talk”. This reasoning between Yasus Afari and fellow poets, focusing on the roots and status of dub poetry, was a call in the search of a renaissance for dub poetry, the spoken word art form for which Yasus Afari was one of the pioneers and jointly responsible for its international development. Other early creators were Oku Onuora, the late Mikey Smith, Mutabaruka, Noel ‘Godfather’ Walcott, Malachi Smith, Linton ‘Kwesi’ Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Adugo Onuora, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Sister Wolette among others. In Wales during the summer in 2010 Yasus Afari, a descendant of enslaved Africans, created the opportunity to perform in reconciliation with poet Richard Douglas Pennant, who’s forefathers were owners of plantations in Jamaica. This event with Richard Douglas Pennant and local poets at Moelyci Environmental Centre was also to celebrate the establishment of Gelli Barddoniaeth, the “Poetry Spinney”. Yasus Afari also performed his reggae tracks and poetry at the “Botanic Beats” event supporting Treborth Botanic Gardens, before working with children from rural school in North Wales. Then Yasus Afari brought his boundless energy to the re-launch of the Bangor Carnival on teaming up with local bands and performers. This brought a genuine element from the Caribbean to the Carnival in Bangor and celebrated the development of positive links between North Wales and Jamaica.Then later in the year Yasus Afari again supported Black History Month using his poetry to explore the concepts of identity and diversity, supporting the development of a positive and inclusive school ethos, ensuring that all pupils understand and appreciate others from different backgrounds with a sense of shared values. This also included consideration of their potential and feeling part of a community, at a local, national and international level.“2011, the United Nations Year for People of African Heritage” started with the best reviews ever for the “Poetry in Motion” staged in Mandeville Jamaica, and Yasus Afari set out for an amazing year launching his new reggae band “Dub Vijan” at the Bob Marley Museum, then making time to work with communities and schools at home and overseas, sharing his lifelong passion for poetry. The summer of 2011 saw Yasus Afari undertaking a range of challenging activities, including the inaugural staging of the Jamaica Poetry Festival and joining the European Reggae Festival Season at Reggae Geel, the original European Reggae Festival, to the delight of his fans and others who were anxiously getting to know him. In Autumn 2011, the tireless Yasus Afari toured his highly anticipated “POMEDY SHOW” in the UK, with a featured launch at the Broadway Theatre in Catford, London, the venue for so many other great Jamaican Shows and personalities.2012 was also highly active and successful for Yasus Afari: His iconic “Poetry in Motion” was another successful celebration of Jamaican Poetry, as was the second annual Jamaica Poetry Festival. Yasus also organized and headlined “The POMEDY Show” at STETHS and at the International Convention Centre in Montego Bay, Jamaica, before bringing it again on tour in the UK. All these cultural events between 2011 and 2012 were officially designated as part of the Jamaica 50th Anniversary Celebrations. Tours in UK included theatre shows, school and prison workshops and lecture-performance presentations, with a host of other consultation, research and other social re-engineering and ‘edutainment’ activities. Quite simply, Yasus Afari is an exceptional Performance Poet.
He engages fully with his audiences and is constantly experimenting and innovating with the ways in which he shares and utilizes his poetry. Yasus Afari again toured the UK in 2013 and represented Jamaica and the Caribbean at the Global Cooperative Forum in Switzerland in 2014. He also did a very successful World Tour in 2015 which included Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Scotland, England and Wales. In 2016 Yasus again toured Wales, Scotland and England doing residencies, concerts and workshops. In 2017 he received the Black History Award from North Wales for his pioneering in that country work with Learning Links International. In January 2018 Yasus Afari was the featured Spoken Word Artiste /Poet at the Bank of Jamaica Lunch Hour Concert Series and this was most successful. In February he hosted the IRIE FM Lifetime Achievement Award Show for Bunny Wailer as well as the Ministry of Education, Gender Affairs, Sports and Culture’s Jamaica Day Celebrations which he was pivotal to initiate in it’s very inception.
In addition, he staged Poetry in Motion 15th Anniversary on February 25 and headlined the inaugural Evening of Revolutionary Poetry and Prose at Phoenix Theatre in New Kingston, Jamaica. With March beckoning, with the inaugural Teachers’ Colleges Art and Culture Show on the 22nd and Montego Bay Open Mike guest appearance on the 31st , among a host of other activities including the 8th anniversary of his Jamaica Poetry Festival, Yasus Afari is poised for an impressive and unprecedented 2018 and beyond, providing Clean Intelligent Fun For the Entire Family and Human Community.
For more info contact: www.yasusafari.com, www.yasusafarionline.com & Social Media
Learning Links International or SenYAcum Edutainment Promotion email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Profile of The Poet, Dub Poet, Reggae Artiste, Author, Social Advocate, Lecturer and Philosopher
1960’s – Attended Rose Hall Infant and All Age Schools – Developed love for Nature, Poetry and Drama
1970’s – Attended St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) – Excelled in Drama, Debating and Poetry as well as being an outstanding student in his technical training as well as in Sociology.
Was helpful in the publication of the school magazine which featured his poetry
Won a national JCDC silver medal in drama and also outstanding student in drama
1980’s – Worked in the class room as a pre-trained teacher and with the Jamaica Telephone Company as a Technician
Studied Telecommunication and Industrial Instrumentation at The College of Arts Science and Technology (CAST), now the University of Technology (Utech) where he was a student leader and vice president of the students’ union.
Did his first stage performance as a poet at CAST and was published in the CAST Campus News
Performed as a Dub Poet in schools, colleges, University of the West Indies and other cultural events across Jamaica and started developing the concept of ‘Edutainment’ ( Education & Entertainment).
Recorded his first songs as a recording artiste and had his first release in 1988, entitled ‘Anti-litter Law’
1990’s – Recorded several ground breaking songs/Dub Poems for leading producers, performing for major promoters and events nationally and internationally as well as developed his own record label and significant cultural events.
Toured with Black Uhuru, Mutabaruka, Benjamin Zephaniah, Utan Green, Tony Rebel, Everton Blenda, Determine, Dele Mandeyah, Freedom Sounds Band and other major acts
Albums & Books: Dance Hall Baptism, Mental Assassin, Honour – Crown HIM, Eye Pen anthology
Awards: Jamaica Music Industry (JAMI), Jamaica Federation of Music, IRAWMA, Utech ACRM, STETHS, JCDC, European Awards for Languages, Medellin International Poetry Festival Award.
2000 – 2017 – Books: Eye Pen anthology (reissue), Overstanding Rastafari – Jamaica’s Gift to the World, Vocal Ink and Published and launched ‘Making Kenke From Memory’ by Ka’Bu Ma’at Kheru in 2017.
Albums: Gift of Vision – Yasus Afari and Friends, Revolution Chapter 1, Kiss Mi Neck, Ancient Future, Public Secret
Tours: Reggae Festival World Tours, Lecture-Performance, Edutainment Concert Series, Pomedy, Fathers of Africa – USA Tour, UK Prison Tour – A Pilot Project for the UK Prison Chaplaincy
Social Advocacy: The Jamaica Government Policy Document on Culture in Education , Jamaica, St Lucia, UK & New Zealand Parliaments, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Global Cooperative Forum, Jamaica International Diplomatic Conference, Fellow New earth Institute, The Gambia International Conference of Community Colleges, African Redemption Initiative, Learning Links International, York University, If Hearts Could Talk (UWI Mona), Mona Academic Conference, Cultural Research & Development , Jamaica Culture Agency Programme in Schools, Jamaica Day Celebrations, The Nothern Caribbean University (NCU) Bicentennial Tri-Nation Conference – Jamaica, UK, Ghana
Residencies: University of Birmingham, Rastafari Heritage Team, Wolverhampton City, Birmingham City College, African Cultural Renaissance Movement (ACRM) University of Technology.
Recently, in 2018, Yasus received a national award in Wales for introducing Black History Month to North Wales, where he considered a Black Icon. He toured Wales successfully in 2019 and is commissioned to publish an anthology, Building Bridges, which consists of Poems by students from Jamaica and Wales.
In 2020, Yasus Afari did a major Lecture Performance at 9UWI) University of the West Indie’s Climate Justice Conference which was jointly hosted by Rutgers University, Drexel University and UWI. He staged the 17th annual Poetry in Motion 2021 and the 10th annual Jamaica Poetry Festival 2020 – Virtual Edition. He also released a Dub Poetry anthology, aptly titled, ‘Dub Poetry Inna Yuh Face’, -co-featuring guests such as Mutabaruka, Jean Breeze, Benjamin Zephaniah, Prof Edward Baugh and Ka’Bu, among others.
Yasus recently staged the 18th annual Poetry in Motion 2021 – Virtual Edition in February and is currently working on the 11th Annual Jamaica Poetry Festival 2021 – Virtual ‘Global Diaspora’ Edition, slated for Sunday, August 8th, 2021. Additionally, he is working on a ‘Mother Earth Project’, re-issuing ‘Overstanding Rastafari – Jamaica’s Gift to the World’, supporting the creation of Jamaica TvRadio (JTvR), working on his new Poetry Anthology and new Album Projects, among other major, exciting and innovative ventures.
So much inspirational initiatives are in store so stay tunes to The Global Poetree Movement !
As Yasus Afari assertively says: Rastafari Bless it and Set it !!!
By SenYAcum Edutainment Team (Jamaica) & Learning Links International (UK)
|Congratulations Yasus Afari on your Island Worldwide Lifetime Achievement Award Certificate for contributions in poetry, reggae music and social justice during Poetry Month. (April 2021)|