Reggae continues to have a foothold in the African nation of Zimbabwe. In April 1980, that country, then called Rhodesia, gained its independence from Britain and Bob Marley was invited to entertain. Marley’s Zimbabwe was penned for this occasion.
Marley’s presence reportedly caused such a stir that a riot broke out and only he could calm the crowds by staging a second concert.
Fast forward 30 years and it is another Jamaican Reggae ambassador who stilled a crowd in Zimbabwe.
This time it is Sizzla Kalonji, who on Saturday, came to the rescue of his Zimbabwean fans who were being bashed by riot police and soldiers.
Sizzla, who was performing during the 21st February Movement Gala, reportedly arrived in that country last Thursday afternoon at the invitation of organisers of the event to celebrate President Robert Mugabe’s 86th birthday.
The Zimbabwe Times newspaper reports that wild scenes greeted his appearance on stage at 2:15 am. Ecstatic fans broke a human barricade that was formed by the police to have a closer look at the reggae star on stage.
The report further states that as he performed, police started beating up the fans, apparently to control them, The commotion resulted in a brief stoppage of Sizzla’s performance. He pleaded with the police to stop the beatings.
“Please, security, take it easy,” said the musician. “Please stop beating up my fans. All the security please, climb up on the stage.”
Agitated fans responded by reportedly throwing missiles at the police and were only restrained after the reggae artiste appealed for calm.
“You know who brought me here?” asked the Jamaican artiste, who did not spend 30 minutes on stage, “It is President Mugabe. So you have got to be at your best behaviour. Set a good example. This is the 21st February Movement. Please do not mess it up.”