On February 29, 2020, the City of Miramar in South Florida and its Vice Mayor, Alexandra P. Davis, hosted the Afro Carib Festival in celebration of Black History Month. This signature event took place at the Miramar Regional Park Amphitheater, which is the same fantastic venue that was the situs of last year’s Broward Reggae Festival as well as the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival. In this being the first year of Miramar’s Afro Carib Festival, there was strong turnout festival goers in spite of the chilly and breezy evening courtesy of a cold front that was affecting the South Florida area. The festivities at Afro Carib included food trucks offering multicultural cuisine, as well as colorful afrocentric apparel being sold at the venue by local and foreign vendors.
Musically speaking, it was perfect timing that Reggae Month coincides with Black History Month. In that spirit, Afro Carib featured an exceptional entertainment segment, headlined by top names in reggae, junkanoo and the hot-like-fire afro beat sound. In fusing these different genres of music from both the Caribbean and African Diaspora, Afro Carib attendees certainly were afforded a night of musical enjoyment.
The on stage MC duties for the evening were handled by Lance-O of Kulcha Shok Muzik along with Yvette Marshall, who were both complemented by DJ Mikey Mike during intermissions and artist band changes. As far as the artists performances were concerned, Gutta Twins from Jamaica got the crowd moving in the early going and then Jay-A also from Yard did his thing. Miramar’s very own, Tone C, also delivered a good set.
Hailing from the Bahamas, Julien Believe hopped on stage to the roar of the crowd. As it happened, throughout the evening there were sounds from a junkanoo band which made there way all around the venue pumping the vibes of the musical genre native to the Bahamas. Julien wasted no time in jolting the festival goers into a frenzy with his delivery of ‘Caribbean Slide’ and, in doing so, gave live tutorial as to how to do the dance. And then off the stage he leapt into the crowed sea of people to unleash his R & B inflected smash hit–‘She Got That Junkanoo’.
It was then time for the Ghanian afro beat juggernaut, Stonebwoy, who ably assisted by his own band in delivering a sensational performance set that thrilled and had the crowd jumping around all the way through, especially when he reeled off his massive hit–‘Bhim Nation’.
Dominican Republic, Amara La Negra, represented for the afro-latinas in energetic and gyrating fashion. Her song, titled ‘What a Bam Bam’ was a hit among the Jamaicans in the audience who bounced along with Amara’s rendition of veteran Jamaican singer, Sister Nancy, whose song it belongs to originally. Amara also performed ‘Dutty Whine’, yet another ode to Jamaican dancehall music and culture. She then wrapped up her set while showing her impressive vocal range with ‘Insecure’.
Putting a night cap on the evening and the City of Miramar’s 2020 Afro Carib Festival as the legendary Rastafarian singjay, Capleton, also known by his monikers–‘Fireman’ and ‘King Shango’. As colorfully dressed as ever Capleton marched out on stage while singing ‘That Day Will Come’, which speaks of a some day redemption for the downtrodden the world over. ‘Jah Jah City’ and ‘Raggy Road’ also got a rise from the crowd. And then down memory lane Capleton went in unfurling ‘Slew Dem’, ‘Dem Nuh Like We’, and ‘# 1 Pon di Look Good Chart’. All the while, Capleton seemed to jump as high as the sky on stage as he normally does. He really gets into it!
Kudos to the City of Miramar government officials for putting on a superb Afro Carib in its first year, and I’m sure there will be many more to follow. Aside from host Vice Mayor, Alexandra P. Davis, give thanks to Mayor Wayne Messam, Commissioner Maxwell B. Chambers, and Commissioner, Yvette Colbourne, who all were on hand in support of the event. And last but certainly not the least, what a great job by the event sponsors Aetna, Workspace Property Trust, WZOP/WZPP Radio and CES Consultants. It should also be noted that the Afro Carib Festival was free to the public with a $10 parking fee that was donated to the United Way’s Hurricane Dorian Fund & Food for the Poor.
Photos by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.