‘Africa is my second home’

Recently during the Sand Music Festival, Jamaican reggae artist Kenyatta Hill wowed fans when he performed for over three hours non-stop. He was part of a long list of artists who spiced up this year’s biggest music event at the Sunbird Livingstonia Beach in Salima.Our reporter BRIAN ITAI attended the event and had the opportunity to engage Hill on a number of issues surrounding his career and his love for Malawi.

Hill: Do not stop reggae music

Q

: This is your second time to come and perform in Malawi, how do you feel?

A

: I am home. It is like I am home. I do not care what everybody else says about Africa. It is a very beautiful place and I would not miss the opportunity to come here for anything else.

 

Q

: How has the reception been like during your second coming?

A

: So overwhelming. The love from the people has been too much.  Everything that Malawians offer you appears to come genuinely which is very rare and special.

 

Q

:You have been to several countries both in Africa and Europe. How does Malawi compare with the rest of the world in terms of hospitality?

A

: The warmest part of Africa is Malawi. They actually gave it the right and most befitting name by calling it the Warm Heart of Africa. When I came at first I experienced it for myself. Man, it is so good. The people are lovely. Anything you could ask for.

 

Q

: What specifically impresses you about being here?

A

: Just the fact that you are so far from home and you have all these people around you. It does not matter what kind of problems they have, but they continue to show you love. You are guaranteed good time every moment you share with them.

Q

: For a long time you Jamaicans have been talking about repatriation. About coming back home to Africa. You have sung about this many times in your songs. Now that you have been to Africa several times, what is your view of that idea?

A

: Nothing is impossible. Now that I have come and experienced it even reinforces that position. And for your information, I want to get some land here in Malawi. It is so nice here.

 

Q

: Would you sell that idea to your fellow Jamaicans back home?

A

: I can point you to one person, Ricky Tosh, who has come here for the first time. He asked me is it this nice here? I would say yes. If anybody came to me and said I want to travel around the world I would tell him go to Africa. Do they really want to go to Europe? America? It is a little more nice here than elsewhere.

 

Q

: How do you compare what you see on the continent when you are here with what you see on TV when you are home?

A

: No! You do not see starving children here because that is all they show on TV. All they bring is children starving with flies all over their faces. I knew from long time ago that this is not Africa. But it is what they want us to believe. If you allow them to consume your mind that is what you will believe so that we can have this misconception about Africa. People who are starving and dying because of hunger. You look quite healthy to me as we speak. So I know there is no starvation.

Q

: One of the issues you touched on during your performance was the issue of marijuana. What stance do you think should the Malawi government take on the issue?

A

: First of all, we need to understand why it is being planted. There are so many benefits, whether medical or otherwise. A lot of people ask me, where do you get your energy from? It is between the beautiful people of Africa and marijuana. Because when you give me that energy, what do I have to do? I have to give it back. So, it is a win-win situation. Send it elsewhere overseas where is it being processed for medical purposes.

 

Q

: So, you think there is a great opportunity for Malawi to utilise marijuana?

A

: Yes. There is a great opportunity. You guys have land and the natural sun. And on top of that it will help you support your economy and provide thousands of jobs.

 

Q

: Does Malawi’s marijuana taste any different from the ganja from elsewhere?

A

: [laughs] Yeah, so much. It is the Malawian gold.

 

Q

:Now about your performance. You lasted over three hours on stage, do you normally do that?

A

: No. Usually you are never given that time and space. Not even in Europe. So, if I come to Africa and I am given that chance, I will definitely give it a shot.

 

Q

: So where did you get that energy from?

A

: Like I said, it is from you people. I draw the energy from you guys so I give it back through music. Even my backing team was like can we please stop. And I told them no I have to go and do this. One really got emotional and she was crying. It was so touching. She said she has never been on stage with somebody like that.

 

Q

: The death of your father Joseph Hill was sudden. Honestly, you were never prepared for this role. But here you are. How has it been like?

A

: I will be very honest with you. One is never really prepared for anything. Much as I was not prepared but I knew I had to do the best. When I got home and laid my father to rest, I sat and I asked myself do you want to continue with this, and yes was the only answer that came through.

 

Q

: What message do you have for Malawian youth?

A

: Do not ever let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your goals. Only you can stop yourself from achieving your dreams. So basically just do not hold yourself back. Whatever you have, set yourself in the path and keep walking. And for you young musicians, do not stop reggae music. n

 

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