Wed | Sep 30, 2020

A clash of cultures - Difference is a big deal for artistes performing abroad

Published:Sunday | January 26, 2020 | 12:00 AM

The video has been making the rounds and fans locally have been wondering, what really took place in Nairobi, Kenya, recently?

A clip shows a male fan rushing to the stage, embracing Christopher Martin (clearly a little too close for comfort), who eventually had to ease him away.

The action of the male patron has been interpreted in different ways, but, according to Martin, who recently sat down with eProbe to discuss this among other topics, it may all boil down to cultural differences.

“There are many different things as it relates to culture … things that are okay in different places aren’t okay in some places. But people show their love in different ways. So that incident that we are talking about, that was in Africa … but it’s just love at the end of the day. I just feel like it was a fan who was overly excited to see Christopher Martin and got ahead of himself,” the Big Deal singer explained.

Martin said the incident didn’t come as a shock to him, as he is well aware of what the general culture is like in Africa.

“I wasn’t in shock, per se, because I know how they treat artistes who they truly check for, both male and female … dem show you love.”

A quick Google search defines cultural differences as “various beliefs, behaviours, languages, practices and expressions considered unique to members of a specific ethnicity, race or national origin”.

And for Martin, this was the case in Nairobi, “Because within their culture, they don’t see expressing themselves as being a bad thing, they show their love openly. We’ve been to different African countries where the same thing has happened, where a person runs on stage, male or female, they know the song, so they come and chill and we vibe out. So in my head, it was a similar thing that was going to happen, but he was just expressing himself in a totally wrong way, so wi haffi handle that.”

Martin said such an incident would not have happened in Jamaica, “and that is the difference between cultures … Jamaicans would never do that, because it’s not the thing to do in Jamaica. You will have somebody who love you the same way in Jamaica, but dem naa guh express it da way dey … he was just overcome with excitement, suh we haffi bridge the gap and seh ‘calm it down mi G, too much’.”

And Martin is not the only entertainer to have had bizarre encounters with eager fans, as Craigy T (formerly of dancehall group TOK) says he has experienced fans across the world, Africa being among his standout memories.


“People get excited when they see their favourite artiste in Jamaica, but in places like Uganda, Tanzania and Haiti, we actually needed military escorts to move around. Africans actually believe you belong to them, so because of that, they will rip you to shreds just to get a pic or a hug,” Craigy T said.

“Sometimes people will want to dance and sing for the artiste on the stage. I think that’s weird, to request to come on stage, grab the mic and then sing your song for you? Weird.”

With these differences across cultures, however, it is clear that such incidents could easily spiral out of control. But for Martin, how you react is of great importance.

“There are many ways to handle different situations, especially when you are in different territories. And in this day and age where social media and everything being so readily available, you don’t want an action at a certain point to be carried over in the wrong way, especially if someone is overcome with emotions and you want to protect yourself and your image … there is no need to go overboard.

“Everything can be handled in a respectable way. A lot of things will jump out at you, things that you are prepared for, things that you are not prepared for, it’s just how you handle yourself at that point in time. Suh show compassion, show love, show respect.”


... ‘People are the same’

Other entertainers have weighed in on some of the cultural differences they have experienced while travelling around the world, performing on the international stage.

Tarrus Riley said that, in his experience, culturally, he sees more similarities than differences.

“People are kinda like the same everywhere you go. A man waan carry out him woman to a concert, or carry him yute dem … suh yuh have a lot of similarities,” Riley told eProbe.

“Going to a concert to perform, people just want to hear good music and dem waan relate to a song. We a talk earlier and the words of a song to me is what mek it really powerful and what makes an artiste resonate inna people heart, fi say ‘yes, that’s my artiste’. Suh when a man sing, ‘I love you just the way you are’, yuh know, is like ‘wow’.”

Riley, however, acknowledged that there are also a lot of differences, especially when it comes to performing.

“If me a perform fi my people, me can speak the language. I’m of the culture, so I can sing a song, for example, Lion Paw, an mi a seh ‘di more dem a oil up, di more dem business spoil up … mi nuh haffi explain dat, ’cause we know how dat guh. But when I’m in a different place, mi haffi seh, ‘Yow, look here, this is what I mean with this part of the song,’” Riley explained, adding that “some of the songs dem dat we mek is indigenous to our Jamaican culture”.

Craig, of Voicemail, said his experiences have been pretty normal where cultural differences are concerned, but “every time I travel the world, I am elated and fascinated with how influential our culture is and how many genres have developed from it. Our music and culture is really loved all over the world ... . I wish that every Jamaican get the chance to travel the world and get to understand and appreciate and value what we have, because what we have is magic, straight magic.”