Ethiopians – Band your belly (1975)

“Like many others who had their ear to the street, Leonard Dillon foresaw the troubles the 1976 elections would bring. With the US increasing their involvement on the island’s political course through the CIA, Jamaica experienced a serious growth in violence. The CIA were bringing in guns and many other means to try and overthrow the PNP party, which was in power at the time. In the American point of view –  who were in fear of another Cuba-situation – the PNP were leaning dangerously towards communism.  Thus, Kingston was introduced to heavy weaponry to enforce and win new ‘pro west’ territory, which lead to violent killings. The involvement of the US government added insult to injury, so it seems, as the two elections accompanied by the greatest violence in Jamaican history were those of 1976 and 1980. Of course reggae was the journal, the daily paper, of what was going on in the streets. And naturally it goes beyond politics and reflects on life in the ghetto on a personal level. On this 1975 recording Leonard Dillon sings about preparing for bad times, tightening the belt, because no matter who wins the election, there’s a new reality out there and it’s rough. Marlon James’ novelA brief history of seven killings’ – which won the Man Booker Price in 2015 – is a good read on the subject. It’s fiction, but still a good insight on what was going on in Kingston, with James describing the situation from different points of view. Set to a every rural riddim and with tight links to mento, ‘Band your belly’ sounds and feels like a longing for the old days. Away from the divided political areas of Kingston, away from the madness. Because, whoever wins (west) Kingston, wins the Jamaican election. Come 2016 the message of “Band your belly” is still relevant. As it was also almost ten years before the Ethiopians’ take: ‘Woman, band yu belly, for someone has done me wrong. The people are watching me…’”
Pressure Beat (Video)

YouTube: Ethiopians – Band Your Belly 6:20


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