Interview with I-Taweh: “My dream is to live long and healthy to see the unification of this human race”

Donavan I-taweh Cunningham was born in the hills of St. Ann, the same parish in Jamaica where the great Marcus Garvey, Burning Spear and Bob Marley all rise from. Like most successful artists, he comes from humble beginnings. Raised in the farming community of Prickly Pole, he spent most of his childhood farming alongside his father and four brothers. As a young child he played music on handmade instruments crafted together from bamboo and sardine tins.
It was the move to Kingston in 1992 that jump-started his musical career. Living between the communities of Mall Road, Grants Pen, Portmore, Rockfort, and Duhaney Park, I-taweh found comfort in the ghetto at the Community Center of The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari.

This was extremely influential for his music and his mission, where he was amongst some of the greatest musicians in the industry including Dizzy Johnny Moore, Earl Chinna Smith, Nambo Robinson, and Bongo Herman. During this time he was rarely seen without his guitar, and was given the nickname Danny Gitz. Along with the name, his skills and reputation as a musician began to grow, until the legendary Sugar Minott took him under his wing as his guitarist and harmony singer.

In 1998, I-taweh became the youngest member of The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Jamaica’s most influential Nyahbingi, religious and cultural group. With Brother Sam Clayton as the leader, they toured Europe extensively until 2007 presenting traditional Jamaican music and educational workshops.
I-taweh produced and composed his first solo album, Overload, which he released in 2011. He has since gone one to self-produce two more albums, Judgementwhich was released in February 2017, and his latest project, Reload, released on January 3rd, 2020.  He is currently promoting his new single “One too many” that is denouncing the brutality of police against black people in the World. He composed this tune after the tragedy of George Floyd, happened in USA. The Artist underlines that every human being deserves the same justice and human rights otherwise there will be never any peace without any justice.

1. As many great artists you came from modest origins. Could you explain us how did you approach to your musical journey in the first place? 
I started out in a tiny community called Prickly Pole. It’s in St Ann Parrish, Jamaica, just a few miles from the home where Bob Marley grew in Nine Mile. My first real musical approach was playing in the church of my community.
2. Who are your biggest artistic inspirations? 
I would say The Wailers and Kenny Rodgers.
3. You’re a Rastaman. Could you tell us something more about the tour u did in Europe in 2007 to educate people to this culture? How it was the feedback here so far?
 Yah man. I’m proudly a Rastaman. The tours I did in Europe were very good for me especially because I got the chance to visit new places, to meet new people to share my vibrations and Reggae music with.
4. Your last project ‘Reload’ was released on January 3rd. How was working at this project with your team?

My latest album “Reload” was released in the beginning of this year, was a very good experience for me putting it together, I wanna give thanks to all who was there with me for the ride. This album is I-Taweh’s greatest body of work-to-date.

All songs are composed, written, and produced by myself through my independent label Tap Nat Muzik.
5. Do the topics inside your albums reflect any of the main dream of your life? 
The main dream of my life is to live long and healthy to see the unification of this human race. I tried my best to express this message through my latest album.
6. Do you believe in the power of conscious music as a privileged way to give universal messages then? Why in your opinion is important that younger artists keep some great values of the past? 
Yes, I do believe in conscious positive vibes. Since I was a little boy ’till now it’s being a positive uplifting force in my life. Today I’m in a point that hopefully I can reach some young minds and souls with my music.
7. Any Future project as soon as everything will return back to normal?
Well, I am always working on projects, the inspirations keeps flowing which I’m thankful for… so I am constantly in the studio recording new songs. I’ll soon update you.
8. Could you give a special greetings for Gege Vibes Magazine readers?
Eugenia Conti

NO RACISM IN ITALY / Gege Vibes & Timeless Sound set up a business involving Gambian and Italian promoters

In this sad political moment for Italy, with a racist leader and hate feeder like Salvini, I was living in London for work and I had promised myself to never return in Italy if the Lega party will win the elections.

Unfortunately it happened with a surprising broad consensus. The monstrosity made by this Government is to see the “brothers of Italy” united through ethnic discrimination towards other peoples. It is because of the Salvini’s propaganda if many Italians have turned against Africans and have started to be obtuse people who point the finger against the immigrants who live in our Country, sometimes without not even a reason.

I was ashamed for Italy every time I saw the BBC News, which emphasize the racism of my country when until few time ago, Italy was considered the Nation of solidarity and acceptance. Here, as our ancestors of Magna Greece have taught us, “the guest is sacred”. Or at least it always has been…

So I couldn’t manage to sit down and don’t do nothing. I decided to use my company of bookings and promotion of artists called Gege Vibes Worldwide Music Group, alongside the established selecta and promoter Timeless Sound, native of Gambia, to involve young Africans (also coming from the communities, from migrant reception centers or from the streets) in the promotion of events in Italy that will host our international singers or Djs so that we can help the kids learn a trade and build their own upcoming brands. Because music unites, generates integration, helps to understand each other, to socialize …

Jereh Njai, aka Mighty Timeless, is a Gambian resident in Berlin, founder of the prestigious Timeless Sound. He has embraced the initiative underlining how the cooperation between the two cultures could even be a determining factor for the entire Italian economy, just as it has been for years in Germany where Europeans and Africans live together and where integration is not a utopia but a fact.

Mighty is a prime example of this: he created a great business in the German capital relating to musical promotion in which people of all races work in team.

I am sure that together we will be able to achieve great results in unity and peace also in our country, Italy: we have shows scheduled for the summer with aspiring Gambian promoters supervised by us in Naples, Catania, Bologna, Milano and Catanzaro. A meaningful example that this project can really unite every latitude here too.

Our goal is also to allow young Africans to become one day professional promoters or successful artists, offering them the right experience and knowledge of the sector. We also want those who come from a more unfortunate background to choose the path of art rather than crime.

And believe me, it’s a really nice feeling to see what the music could create thanks to the universal language that composes it … What better genre than reggae music that always has professed peace and love to unite populations?

“One love” is precisely the concept to feel that we are all brothers and sisters. We want Italians and Africans to meet together in the same party, to dance, make friends and start collaborations. We no longer want to see people with prejudices and immigrants who feel they are only unwanted foreigners without any space in the society. Some days ago I was talking to Curtis, an eighteen-year-old from Gambia who actually lives in the community in Bologna. I met him in a club during a date of my tours. Curtis is so in love with reggae music that he defines Timeless his father and hero. He also called me his mother. He said that he is very proud of my projects, but that he will make me even more proud of him because he wants to reach a high level of education. He confided to me that he wants to enroll in the University to get a  graduation to become an architect. He is learning to draw on his laptop already. You have no idea how these words filled my heart with joy. These guys are called “Ghetto Youths”. Sometimes they arrive in Italy with nothing, only with their great talent. Many of them know how to sing, others can dance, others want to organize events or study at the University. “Ghetto Youths”, make sure me and Daddy Timeless will do everything to help as much as guys possible. We need to be a healthy example for them because everyone deserves at least one chance to prove its own worth. Music is not just notes in succession, music is the most powerful channel for changing the state of things, music is a life mission …

Eugenia Conti

New slave era is happening in Lybia and the main medias are silent.

New slavery’s era is happening and the main medias are not talking about it. All happened less than two weeks ago in Libya. A group of hundreds of migrants have been imprisoned and tortured by the Libyan criminals. Many of them were auctioned as slaves for economic values not exceeding 800 euros. The others were killed. The most shameful thing is not only the deplorable treatment that black men have been subjected to, but also the indifference of the major channels of communication such as TV or newspapers in Europe and from all over the World.

The European Union, on the other hand, has not hesitated to close economic agreements with Libya despite the crimes against the humanity it is committing. We are in 2017 but unfortunately the extreme racism phenomena are not over in the modern era. A new age of slavery is consuming right now in the total absence of guarantees by the institutions and humanitarian associations.

How does the ‘civil’ Europe indignate after the attacks in France or in Uk and not in this case ? Why some crimes become viral and others are not even considered? Are the Africans less important human beings? That’s madness. Do they not deserve the same protection of the human rights of white people? My pain is enormous. After centuries of struggle against the racism, in these days the freedom and the human dignity are forgotten while our brothers are continuing to die every day there. Where are the love and the peace? Only two days ago a boat was sunk around Libyan territory and more than two hundred people are died, including women and children. Their corpses were devoured by sharks. But who knows it? Who prayed for their abandoned souls on the high seas? I invite you to reflect about it, forgetting the consumerism and the globalization. The worst horrors are happening close to us and all together we need to make a real revolution to stop it and to live in the respect of the human rights everywhere.

Eugenia Conti