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Avellon Williams

JAMAICA – Upon landing in Kenya last week for his first-ever performance, seven-time Jamaica Festival Song winner Eric Donaldson received royal treatment.

At the Carnivore grounds, Donaldson will perform at the Reggae-themed Umoja Splash Festival.

According to a Nairobi City County report, the St. Catherine native, who is best known for Cherry Oh Baby and This is the Land of My Birth, was officially welcomed in Nairobi by Governor Ann Kananu, who promised fans a thrilling performance.

Original “Cherry Oh Baby” 1971 /Courtesy – music video/

It was reported that Governor Kananu praised Donaldson “for his deep songs with captivating messages to society.”

As Governor Anne Kananu Mwenda honoured the Join Di Line singer at a luncheon, he called on Kenyan musicians to write songs that will have a major impact on society in the future.

Governor Anne Kananu Mwenda /Image, DB/

“I have attended his concerts and I’m sure reggae fans will enjoy his performance. I’m urging all reggae fans to turn up in large numbers,” she said.

Following his arrival, Donaldson promised to perform a magnificent show.

“Well, it’s one bucket I have; it’s full of Reggae music enuh.  And that is what I want to offer to people: love, unity… if these songs that I am going to sing are on the lips and the minds of the people, then everything is going to be OK,” he said.

As headlining the “Umoja Splash Festival“, local reggae musician Noah Yusuf alias Refigah has appealed to reggae fans to attend in large numbers.

“Nobody can stop reggae. It’s part of us…,” he is quoted as saying.

/Image, FB/

Since 1964, Eric Donaldson has been composing and recording songs.  The mega-hit Cherry Oh Baby launched his career in 1971, followed by Sweet Jamaica in 1977, Land of My Birth in 1978, Proud to Jamaican in 1984, and Big it Up in 1993.  The following year, in 1995, he scored a second time with Join the Line, followed by Peace and Love in 1997.

At the moment, Jamaican entertainers are being urged to look towards countries in the Motherland, particularly Kenya, as places to ply their trade, since Reggae music is very popular there.

It was earlier this year that, following the sojourns of Dancehall and Reggae artistes such as Konshens, Beenie Man, and Popcaan – who had called for direct flights from Ghana to Jamaica – to headline sold-out concerts on the African continent, suggestions were resurfacing that the Motherland is the “new frontier for Dancehall” and that Jamaican artistes should pay attention to this.

UB40 remake video of “Cherry Oh Baby” /Courtesy/

During an onstage interview conducted by veteran entertainment journalist Winford Williams in February 2021 with Dancehall producer Notnice, the possibility of touring Africa, particularly countries on the West Coast and Kenya in the East, was also a hot topic for discussion.

In his view, Africa is fertile ground for Jamaican artists, as Dancehall and Reggae reign supreme and are the “soundtrack of that country.”

The music on the Kenyan national airline flight from Nairobi to New York is Reggae. Nairobi metro is big with Reggae, the capital and largest city with over six million people.

Nairobi city /Courtesy/

In Nairobi, Konshens is a big favorite, as well as Christopher Martin, Etana, and Vybz Kartel, who has 12 million YouTube views there, his third-highest number so far this year.

Konshens /Image, TGC/

“What Africa was 20 years ago, is very different from where they are now.  There are economies in Africa that are growing way faster than economies in Europe and North America and South America.  Africa is on the rise and we need to know that… We are from that continent,” Williams had said.


Morgan Heritage, a reggae Grammy award-winning group, said in November 2019 that Africa was highly lucrative for Jamaican artists.

The band, Morgan Heritage /Image, DZ/

“I think if Jamaican artistes would look at Africa like every other touring region around the world like the US, Australia, Europe, Canada … we will be able to tour consistently. But we continue to look at Africa as a remote destination.

Africa is a continent. We’re not talking about an island – but a continent that has a population close to or more than 1.5 billion people. America has a third of that,” Morgan, who has toured multiple African countries had said.

Africa Destination /Image, HF/

“Our whole mentality is, if we can get on a tour bus and a drive across America, or even sometimes fly from city to city touring, why we can’t do that in Africa? A place that I and I as a people identify as the root of our music?”

“If we’re going to do what we have to do to build certain regions in the world as markets where we can go and tour consistently, we have to take that same mindset when we go to Africa. It would be very lucrative for all of those that decide to take up the challenge,” he had added.

Africa /Image, ST/
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Avellon Williams

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