pole-pole festival-linkeroever-antwerp-belgium-4th July 2004
By Joel Savage
The fully air-conditioned bus carrying Lucky Dube, the famous South African reggae star, his manager Mr David Jacobs and the entire musical group, arrived at the premises of the festival at linkeroever-antwerp. There was another group playing on the stage and Lucky Dube was to perform after them. He arrived on time. He sat in the bus for about thirty minutes and suddenly came down in a grey leather cap, covering his dreadlocks, a pair of blue jeans and black shoes.
I followed him humbly and said “Sir I have an appointment to interview you.” “Who did you ask for the interview?” asked Lucky Dube. “Els, please,” I responded. Lucky identified the name immediately as the lady who has the programme of all the artists who are performing at the festival. “I will do the interview after performing,” said Lucky.
He went back into the bus. I stood at the backstage for about thirty minutes and Lucky came out again. This time, he had on different attire – a long sleeve light-cotton black shirt and the same material for the trousers – signifying that it was time to go and do what he likes best: put on a show.
I followed him as he walked towards the platform. Meanwhile, his musicians were already playing his opening tune in preparation for him. Lucky didn’t walk straight to the platform. He grabbed one of the iron bars of the platform, holding close to it and moving his body in gymnastic movements. During the short period Lucky did that, my instinct told me that he was praying before going on stage. He did it in a way that nobody could see what he was doing.
As he climbed up the stage, a thunderous scream of love, devotion and hapiness from the crowd greeted him. He grabbed the microphone and the serious reggae business started. Lucky’s Peter Tosh-style of voice was like a magnet pulling everyone to dancing. He sang a couple of his old songs like “Money Money Money” taken from the album Soul Taker. But things went different when he sang “One People Different Colours.” The people were filled with mixed feelings of sadness and joy. I saw some weeping, swinging their hands in the air, some carrying bands with bold inscription: “Lucky we love you,” “Lucky welcome to Antwerpen,” etc. I have never seen this anywhere before.
Then he shifted to his new album The Other Side, which is already on sale. He explained the reason he wrote that song. “Part of the grass is green and the other part is not. Many Africans in Europe today want to go home, while those in Africa want to come to Europe.”
After playing “The Other Side” he also played a tune called “Soldier,” followed by “Kwasa-Kwasa,” his own invention of reggae and kwasa beats. Lucky Dube pulled up a spellbinding performance that won him an ovation at polepole festival. He ritired to the bus later and got changed. About fifteen minutes later he came out and signed on a lot of materials for some of the fans and he gave them out. Some also had the chance to talk to this simple man, whose music played an important role to the fall of apartheid over ten years ago.