The story starts somewhere in the mid-eighties... no, maybe the first roots of my history in reggae and Rastafari were two Bob Marley LP's my mother owned. 'Exodus' and 'Uprising', bought somewhere in the late seventies, are still in her record collection today and 'Jammin'' is without a doubt the first thing I can remember as far as reggae is concerned.
A freak of fate then caused my aunt to move back from Africa to Belgium a couple of years later, somewhere in the mid-eighties. She went to live in Geel - Bel, at just a few hundred meters from the Kapucienenberg, the original location of the now renowned Reggae Geel festival.
From there on, there was no way back. Reggae made my blood run and is until this day the only form of music that can push me onto a dance floor. Be it Peter Tosh's 'Reggaemylitis' or Steel Pulse's 'Reggae Fever', there is such a thing as a reggae virus, that much I'm sure of.
Somewhere in the second half of the nineties I met Gando 'Carlos' Diallo a.k.a. African Teacher,who introduced me into the Brussels reggae scene and taught me the basics on organising reggae nights: SABAM, liquor license, renting a venue, sound & light equipment, insurance... It soon became obvious that partying costs a lot of money. Nevertheless, I amassed enough confidence to give it a try myself: Jah Rebel Productions was a fact.
The more reggae nights I organised, the more I became aware I wanted to stay as far away from money (and all the problems associated with it) as possible. Reggae was a passion, but it had to remain an enjoyable passion, not a worry and, furthermore, money didn't interest me much, Rastafari was my mission. The concept? Reggae as infotainment!
I found a home at Izzy Maze, a small pub in the centre of Antwerp, managed by a Nigerian owner with a heart for reggae & Rasta. Over time Izzy became almost like a brother to me: I took care of organising and promoting the reggae nights and he handled the bar and paid for expenses. The Wayward Wednesdays and Firehouse Fridays have become a bit of a household name in the Belgian reggae scene: if you haven’t attended one yet, you certainly might have heard of them.
But I was far from being at the end of the road. Through bass player Klaas Haesen I met up with the members of Ionyouth, a non-profit organisation, in the fall of 2002. It became a meeting of likeminded spirits. In the organisation I was mainly responsible for communication and public relations and, together with Joris Vandeweerd (also the technical brain behind this website), I kept the Ionyouth website up to date. The organisation was based on two main pillars: on the one hand the sound system, the Ionyouth Warriorcrew, and on the other, the live band. All profits made were reinvested in the further development of the organisation, but a part also went to Siddartha, a project in Ethiopia Ionyouth supported.
As a next step in a continuous process of growth, www.rebelbase.be was created in the Spring of 2004. Towards the end of August I got involved in writing for the music magazine REWIND. The interviews I did for REWIND were also published on this website.
Internal differences in the Ionyouth organisation caused the dissolution of the band and the departure of several members from the organisation. A core of committed members kept the soundsystem going.
From now on every Wednesday became a Wayward Wednesday. In practical terms this meant a roots party every week, four times a month! To keep the agenda from getting too busy, the Firehouse Fridays were cancelled.
In my work as a journalist this was a year full of changes. REWIND was terminated because of poor sales and things didn't last much longer at 3R Magazine, where I started writing next, either. The time had clearly come to pluck up courage and try my luck with the "big league". In September 2005 I became the reggae editor for RifRaf musiczine and the Belgian reggae portal website Reggae.be.
As a Rastafarian and loyal supporter of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, I had become a passionate collector of objects from the time of his reign in Ethiopia. Eventually this resulted in a cooperation with Zerihun, an Ethiopian from Addis Abeba with a passion for the rich history of his country. From the items he sent me from Ethiopia, I selected the ones I was interested in and put the rest up for auction on Ebay. My collection has grown substantially over time and is a part of this website as the virtual H.I.M. (Haile Selassie Internet Museum).
On the independent Antwerp radio station, Radio Centraal (106.7 fm), the broadcast Back 2 Bass had been running for many years. After the sudden demise of cofounder/editor Jan 'Smokey' Geldolf († 07/2006), I was asked to try and fill his shoes and assist the host of the show, Kenneth 'Wackie' Oyen. Back II Bass is on every Sunday from 14h. to 15h. and afterwards a recording of the show is put online on the radio page of this site for your listening pleasure.
Diverging visions led to the termination of my collaboration with RifRaf musiczine. However, for every door that closes, there's another that opens and teaming up with the tropical music blog seemed an ideal opportunity to rekindle my love for African and South-American rhythms.
The past few years, social network sites had been springing up like mushrooms, and to keep us from missing the train to the future, a MySpace profile for Back 2 Bass as well as for Jah Rebel Productions was created. The weekly recording of the Back 2 Bass radio show can be listened to there as well. As yet, we still passed on Twitter and Facebook.
All good things eventually come to an end; hence, after a period of about ten years the weekly Wayward Wednesdays parties at Izzy Maze were terminated.
A trip to Ethiopia (for more details please go to the Troddin' section of this site) made an old dream become reality. Focusing mainly on the figure of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, I visited Addis Ababa and Shashamene.
To be continued ...