23 August 2019
María Teresa is retired. Anuar is 22 months old. They are grandma and grandson and they take a tour that brings from from the Social Forum and Jumping and Caribbean Uptempo clubs to the Main Stage. This same route also passes by Pura Vida, No Profit, Pachamama, African Village and the area that captured Anuar’s attention the most, Magico Mundo. As he’s under 13, Anuar didn’t have to pay to enter Rototom Sunsplash. Neither did his grandma, who is retired. He went hand in hand with her (though he tried to escape to discover what was going on in the Rototom Circus). It’s the first time that María Teresa has been to a reggae festival, but the third for her grandson: “He had such a good time… Well, the grandparents as well. It’s our excuse”, she laughed.
For Lucía, it’s the first time she’s paid for something with a wearable. She also one of the retirees and pensioners who came to the Stand up for Earth edition of Rototom Sunsplash with La Garrofera on Monday 19th. The association visits the festival, a guided around each of the micro areas that make up the festival area. They take their plastic glasses with them, as well as a backpack from the Peace Revolution edition. Next to the statue of Bob Marley, Lucía explains to two young women why they are here. She shows them her cashless wristband, with which she can use to pay at the festival: “Taking my money with me here is very comfortable”. Lucía and her friends from La Garrofera, along with the other retirees like María Teresa and kids under 13 years of age all benefit from the festival’s price policy and enjoy free entry. People with disabilities, who can come accompanied by another person, can also enter for free. There are also adapted facilities for people with reduced mobility. Finally, those who are unemployed in the province could benefit from a reduced entry fee on 20th August.
Some days later, close Marley square, where La Garrofera are taking a photo of their team, the Social Forum can be found. Leticia Cabo, doctor and activist for the NGO Proactiva Open Arms, takes the microphone in this meeting space and debate to put the focus on the situation that the NGO is experiencing: “It’s great to come back. Rototom will always be a safe harbour for Open Arms”. This year, more than ever. The festival collaborated with the NGO in its 2018 edition, donating the money raised collecting plastic glasses deposited in the wooden containers by those attending the festival. This year, the beneficiary of each plastic glass will be destined for Greenpeace: Stand up for Earth.
A safe harbour. Rototom is an social and inclusive festival that looks into the public’s eyes and reaches out a hand. It not only weaves a musical line-up that shows the many forms Jamaican music can take, the extra-musical activities, or through projects like that which took music to Albocàsser prison, but it is also a home for everyone. A place where you can find yourself and get rid of the day to day noise. It’s a small piece of Zion. Because Rototom Sunsplash is a green festival, with courage, that roars as a family, that’s much more than music, and it’s able to break chains.
As can be read on the murals in front of Reggae University: “Many people, big and small, doing small things, can change the world” (Eduardo Galeano). Maybe it sounds cliché, but it’s such small things like depositing a plastic glass in a container before leaving a festival, the fact that Lucía can visit the music festival every summer, that Leticia found a place to raise her voice and awareness and visibility of her cause, or that María Teresa sees her grandson Anuar grow and learn in her hand. Because these things can change the world.
Asun Pérez (Translated by Finn Darco)