Papua New Guinean reggae musician Anslom Nakikus: ‘I think of reggae as a higher purpose’

 He is in Kerala to perform at the opening edition of the International Indie Music Festival to be held in Thiruvananthapuram from Wednesday

Anslom Nakikus plays many a role, with some strands from each becoming evident in his music. Though he is known primarily for his work as a reggae artiste in his native Papua New Guinea, Anslom has also contested as an independent candidate in the country’s Parliament elections. He has been an ambassador for refugees, a campaigner of HIV-AIDS control programmes and is also a small-time entrepreneur.

In Kerala to perform at the opening edition of the International Indie Music Festival (IIMF) to be held at the Kerala Arts and Crafts Village in Thiruvananthapuram from Wednesday, Anslom is currently jamming with a group of local musicians with whom he will be performing since it is “too costly” for his entire band to travel down here. One of the first songs they try out is the overtly political Refuse, resist… which has a chorus that goes “power to the people.”

“I believe reggae is a musical form in which the message is also important. Back where I come from, we are still a third-world, a developing nation. It is hard because opportunities are rare in music as well as business. I use reggae music to inspire my people, just like what Bob Marley, Peter Tosh or Lucky Dube did. I love the way how the late Dube presented the message to his people in South Africa. I think of this as a higher purpose. When I get on stage, I sing about messages of peace, love, hope and unity,” says Anslom in an interview with The Hindu.

Some of the band members of Dube, a South African reggae legend, now perform with Anslom.

Growing up with a passion for music, Anslom began singing in church choirs. He also started singing in some local bands, but soon realised that he “did not want to sing about women all the time.” He wanted to write lyrics that people could relate to.

“I wanted to sing about nature, struggles in life and, of course, about love. They need not be songs that will create a revolution, because I am generally a peaceful person who is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. In my country, which is democratic, we have the right to express ourselves. But you have to express in a more meaningful and acceptable way,” he says.

Many of his songs are personal. For instance, Getting married…, which is dedicated to his daughter, in which he advises parents to be not too controlling of their daughters and understand that they have a life of their own too.

A graduate of Political Science, he closely keeps a watch on the happenings in his country where more than 70% of the people live in rural areas. Many rural regions are yet to receive electrification. The country, located close to Australia, has been witnessing a tug-of-war between the West and China to provide development funding and widen their areas of influence, says Anslom.

“I have been struggling all my life to make it big outside so that I can help people. Performing in Kerala at this festival is one such big opportunity. Because of digital streaming, my music is getting picked up far and wide, but I still believe it has not yet been fully discovered,” he says.

Source – Image and report




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