Photo by Jammi York for Okayplayer
Anybody who trooped (or wandered) through Okayplayer’s SummerStage show in June witnessed the combined powers of Cymande, Deva Mahal and KING form a fuckery-proof forcefield around Central Park’s Ramsey Playfield; a magical bubble strong enough to transform the sun-drenched meadow into a small utopia. Outside the bubble, hate crimes and corruption threatened to drown our better impulses in a rising tide.
Inside the bubble, time stood still while Cymande sang of unity and perseverance. But the powerful simplicity of their timeless lyrics..
Time has been lost in trying / We have been left outside / Looking at passions dying /Emotions grow strong with time…But it’s alright, we can still go on
They might have said we’re lying / No matter how hard we try / Those that are watch them crying
So as the helpless die…But it’s alright, we can still go on
..was equally embodied by the band itself; still creating, still brothers. If Cymande’s sonic presence gave the lie to the divisive anger that have characterized 2016, KING demonstrated that harmony has its own truth and Deva Mahal was there to teach us that joy can be as fierce as pain. Just as crucial to the magic was the vibes in the crowd, who proved that regular-ass people will drink sunshine and rhythm over corn syrup and lies any day.
Whether you were there in person or living the moment vicariously via OKP TV’s cameras, there’s a touch of wistfulness to the moments captured here, as summer 2016 oozes on, seemingly more toxic by the day. But we should also not underestimate the power of these temporary nations formed under a groove. And we should also bear in mind, the summer’s not over! In fact Okayafrica will be forming a whole new nation this coming Sunday August 14th as they bring Mbongwana Star, Batida, Young Paris and DJ Underdog to SummerStage. And with a line-up like that, maybe the forcefield will just stay up this time.