Rich industrial nations [Babylon] are the concrete jungles of modern time as they spread their so-called free trade economics to the rest of the world. In the free trade scenario, if each economy produces what it does best and trades with other economies for their goods and services, everyone’s wealth goes up. Unfortunately, it is these industrialized nations that are the biggest threat to free trade when it comes to the world’s poorest developing countries, blocking food and fabric exports that are the specialties of most third world nations.
Global Exchange is a non-profit research, education, and action center dedicated to promoting people-to-people ties around the world. Founded in 1988, the international human rights organization has been successfully striving to increase the economic global awareness among the US public while building international partnerships dedicated to promoting political, social and environmental justice globally.
In the post 9/11 era, Americans more than ever feel accountable for our country’s foreign policies, and the importance of the goals set by Global Exchange are all too clear:
(1) to educate the U.S. public about critical global issues; (2) to promote respect for the rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; (3) to encourage both the U.S. government and private institutions to support policies that promote democratic and sustainable development; and (4) to link people in our own country and people in the global South who are working for political, social and environmental justice.
Reggae music, under the tutelage of the great Robert Nesta Marley, has always called out for peace and social justice. Many of us have rededicated ourselves to the one love, one aim and one destiny revolution towards solving the woes of humanity. Post 9/11, Marley’s music and message is bigger than ever.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the annual Reggae in the Park Festival, produced by Events West, has been one of the main fundraisers for Global Exchange going on 12 years. The festival held this past October in San Francisco’s Sharon Meadows in Golden Gate Park took on even more meaning this year.
Some wondered if it should have be canceled, others felt certain that it should. Headliners Black Uhuru canceled shortly after 9/11, prior to Luciano canceling his world tour, leaving Events West’s Michael Levine short two headliners with less than a month’s notice-all amidst a country in mourning and chaos. He successfully billed the Wailers to replace Black Uhuru.
Still slated to perform were Culture, Wailing Souls, King Chango, Caribbean Pulse, Rocky Dawuni and English Beat’s Dave Wakeling, which still promised to be a strong show. But Michael Levine was not content to rest on his laurels. He, as he described his efforts, put out an all-points bulletin for a headliner to replace Luciano, and found Gregory Isaacs finishing up a performance in Florida.
With a week to go before Reggae in the Park, Levine flew Isaacs to California where he then delivered one of his best performances. “Gregory Isaacs was just amazing,” said Michael, “People who have seen him many times, or recently said this was one of the best performances he has put on in years. He was truly magical and wonderful on and off the stage.”
Half of the Wailers’ band were delayed by the infamous Bay Area traffic, with an allegedly broken down van and were then pulled over by an over zealous police officer, causing them to show up very late, only allowing for an abbreviated performance.
In the meantime, Rocky Dawuni and Dave Wakeling’s Band filled in for an impromptu jam session.
When the Wailers finally took the stage, led by Gary “Nesta” Pines, singing Bob Marley’s biggest hits, their performance moved the crowd into a sing-along that reverberated beyond the hills of Sharon Meadows. Songs like “War,” “Natural Mystic,” and “Them Belly Full” quickly packed the crowd and got their attention focused back on center stage.
Backstage presented a “who’s who” of the Northern California reggae industry, including dub-poet and IRIE-FM mainstay, Mutaburuka, in attendance. Muta was not there to perform, but was in the Bay Area working on a DVD business project. Asked about traveling post 9/11, he said he had no trouble, and others “got scared.” I had seen him several weeks before, performing in San Jose, backed by the awesome SKOOL Band courtesy of Late Nite Productions. Visit www.mutabaruka.com for more information and for words of wisdom. He had encouraged his audience to be informed and to “strive to understand what’s going on in order to be part of the solution.”
Global Exchange, now more than ever before, deserves your support. Visit their website for more information about their political and civil rights campaigns, social and economic rights campaigns, and their stand against the unjust and undemocratic policies of the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
This holiday season visit their two alternative trade centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and their online store that generates income for artisans and crafts cooperatives in nearly 40 countries. These fair-trade stores are dedicated to providing unique goods, while educating first-world consumers about the social and environmental implications of their spending. Buy a basket from a typical crafts importer and the peasant artisan receives a tiny fraction of what you pay. At the Global Exchange Fair Trade Craft Stores, the artist gets 15-30% of the retail price.
Other programs go towards supporting and promoting campaigns in Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States.