Organizers of reggae festival debunk claims the concert promotes use of illicit drugs


The One Love Reggae Festival has been successfully held every year for the past 32 years in Zambia.

It is a way to show respect and honor to the legacy that the late Reggae legend Bob Marley left.

Read more: ‘Catch fun but…’, Reggae fans warned to stay off marijuana, other illicit drugs at One Love Festival

Artistes and reggae fans travel from the length and breadth of the country for this festival that takes place only once every year.

Over the past years, many have criticized the event saying that it has been strongly associated with the use of illicit drugs such as Marijuana.

Regarding this year’s Reggae concert, the Drug Enforcement Commission had cautioned revellers that the use of illicit drugs, particularly cannabis, was prohibited.

DEC Public Relations Officer, Hussein Khan, went on to say that the Commission recognized the festival as an opportunity for celebration
and enjoyment, but engaging in any form of lawlessness or drug use will have serious consequences.

Khan said it was important to note that the use of illicit drugs, especially cannabis, is strictly prohibited by law.

He urged the festival goers to respect the law and refrain from using or distributing any illegal substances during the festival.

“Furthermore, we would like to emphasise that any acts of lawlessness or disregard for the well-being of others will not be tolerated,” Khan said.

Shakarongo Music, who are organising the One Love Reggae festival, have responded to the statement issued by the Drug Enforcement Commission concerning the event slated for the May 6, 2023 at Mika Convention Center.

Speaking in an interview on Friday, Public Relations and Marketing officer, Natasha Chengala, said the festival was simply a way of remembering the legacy of the late reggae legend, Bob Marley.

“The One Love Reggae Festival has been successfully held every year for the past 32 years. The One Love Bob Marley Memorial concert is a
celebration of the legacy of the late Bob Marley and his contribution to music world wide through his message of unity, peace and love, his
advocacy for justice, equality and the rights of the down trodden in our society,” she said.

Chengala went on to say that the show was designed to promote the reggae music, art and culture, and its achievements over the many years.

“This show is about enjoying a night of reggae music, art, culture and a promotion of goodness of humanity, it is a night for reggae enthusiasts and music lovers to watch and listen to talented musicians ply their trade on stage, it is public knowledge that this is the biggest festival in the country that promotes the reggae genre,” she said.

Chengala said her organisation was strongly against citizens abusing any illicit drugs at the festival.

“We would like to categorically place it on record that we are law abiding citizens and we do not encourage or promote the abuse or misuse of substances of any kind neither do we promote lawlessness as implied in the statement,” she said.

Chengala stressed that the commission also should in their mandate use their constitutional mandate with fairness by upholding equity.

“The Commission has a constitutional mandate, but they ought to function and discharge this solemn responsibility with fairness, equity and justice devoid of biasness and discrimination, there are shows every weekend, no statement of this nature has ever been issued, we encourage all to join us this Saturday for this celebration and movement,” she stressed.

Chengala said her organisation had always ensured that other stakeholders such as the Zambia Police are on board, so as to ensure that everything is run smoothly.

“We as organizers of the show have year in and out put measures to curb any illicit activities and ensure to the safety of all attendees by providing adequate security both private and Zambia Police Service with whom we enjoy excellent working relations,” Chengala said.

She went on to encourage many reggae fans not to take part in bringing down the festival, but uplifting its already existing worth.

One Reggae fan, James Banda, 45, who has attended the concerts in the last seven years, says the statement from the Drug Enforcement Commission was not fair on the reggae community.

“I think the remarks were a bit hash, there are many other concerts of circular artistes who have show almost every weekend, but they had to
target us the reggae community, I feel that fairness should be upheld, as other concerts might also indulge in the use of such illicit drugs,” he said.

Contributed by Harbguy Mwambazi

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