Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer
Among his many names, deejay Capleton is known as The Prophet, and he was greeted as such when he spent a week in The Gambia, Western Africa, in early May.
It was also Capleton's first visit to Africa.
Video footage from the visit, during which he did two performances, shows Caple-ton in a fiery red suit acknowledging cheering crowds from the sunroof of a Hummer, many persons running alongside the motorcade. The crowd was not only big, but the passion and excitement was tremendous.
Capleton points out that it could have been much bigger, as his arrival was not announced. He said his party was told that if it had been, it would have taken them a day and a half to get to their destination from the airport, instead of the over two hours that a journey which normally takes 15 minutes actually did.
"It was very glorious," he said. "In terms of visit it was very outstanding. The affection was outpouring. We couldn't even go through the front of the airport.
"They didn't announce my arrival. Dem never mek de people know which day me a go turn up, for some reason. The energy, the spirit, the vibe. The motorcade crazy. Police an' soldier haffi protec' me, y'know, to the love de people have fe me. Gambia was a great experience, knowing dat me a touch de Motherlan' fe de firs' time.
"Me felt at home when me was dere still, an de people have a lot of love," Capleton said. "De show was crazy. De people jump like wow. An dem know de song dem. Sing dem word for word."
He said that often the songs they were singing along with him were tunes that did not even get much airplay in Jamaica.
It was not only concerts and interviews, as Capleton said he "went to two different museums, learn a little bit about de culture an' de chiefs an' chief of all chiefs". Among his stops were also an ancient well and the Rasta Garden.
Capleton said that huge crowds gathered even when he went to radio stations to do interviews. And he said, "I remember one night I went to a radio station and man a jump up on the windscreen, man lie down in front of the van it couldn't move! Crazy, crazy."
He showed some of his new-found knowledge by naming some of the tribes in The Gambia and how they say 'greetings' as well as 'fire' in their languages.
"The experience was definitely great. It was edifying, it was joyful, it was a blessing, it was love," he said.
"Over the years, Rastafari people sey how Capleton no go a Africa an' how him no reach, but true de vaccine an de yellow fever pill an' de malaria pill - yu done know is Rastafari widdin de culture; we bun certain tings. But true is de message an de music an his Majesty sey, 'Have no fear of dem atomic energy, cause none a dem can stop de time'. Cause me see dem try juk me wid common pin already an' it no work true de mystic a de mos' high."
It is the start of a wider journey into the continent, as Capleton said, "Right now me a focus on Africa. This is like a gateway, Gambia them get de firs' blessing an dem deserve it, because dem know every Capleton, all some Capleton whe no play a Jamaica."