Reggae artist Ky-Mani, one of Bob Marley's sons, showed solidarity with revolutionary Venezuela during this month's Rototom Sunsplash festival in Valencia, Spain.
Several other reggae artists also expressed support for the democratically-elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, which has been directly threatened with military intervention by a Donald Trump administration which came to power after garnering second place in the popular vote but selected nonetheless by a minority electoral college.
During the festival, Ky-Mani held up a sign that read: “Respect Venezuela. Trump Hands Off Venezuela,” according to a video posted by Noticias 24.
Tiken Jah Fakoly, famed reggae artist from the Ivory Coast, also offered his opinion, “We love Venezuela. Africa loves you.” After recalling that Africa is the “mother of humanity” he concluded that the continent is “singing to you and, Viva la Revolucion. Rastafari!”
This year Rototom Sunsplash welcomed organizers and participants from the Venezuelan Festival Otro Beta whose performance installations and headquarters were completely burned to the ground in the Venezuelan city of Maracay, near the Caribbean coast on June 24. The arson attack occurred during violent opposition protests against the government.
Festival Otro Beta organizers released a public statement which read, in part, that they “reject those who discriminate and exclude Black people, poor people, women, gays, Santeria devotees, and marijuana smokers.” It added that the “burning of Otro Beta leaves a clear message: that those directing the Venezuelan opposition protests have either lost control over their people or are in agreement with a youth movement that believes in the extermination of the other — of the different — as the only means to achieve 'liberty'.”
Despite mainstream outlets that often depict Reggae artists and Rastafaris as nothing more than dreadlocked, marijuana smokers, the precursor to both movements is Black liberation leader Marcus Garvey.
He advocated for African descendants across the diaspora to embark on a return — physical, spiritual, cultural and political — to their African roots via the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation. Established in 1919, the shipping line was envisioned by Garvey as a way to help Black people in the Americas to return to their homeland and to boost the African global economy.
Garvey also established The Negro World publication which spread the message of freedom to Black people worldwide. The paper grew to a weekly circulation of 200,000 across the Americas, Africa and Europe.
Malcolm X praised the activist for his achievements. “Every time you see another nation on the African continent become independent you know that Marcus Garvey is alive,” he said, adding that “the freedom movement that is taking place right here in America today was initiated by the work and teachings of Marcus Garvey.”
Later this year the Namibian government will rename the main street of Windhoek, the country's capital, to Marcus Garvey.