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AFRICAN SPIN

Most people associate reggae with the Caribbean, but Victor Essiet puts an African spin on the music. Essiet is a reggae star whose influences tend toward Zulu and zydeco. His goal is distinctive. He aims, as he earnestly puts it, "to heighten world consciousness through his music using a blend of reggae and African elements in a mix that returns the African roots to the electric era."

Essiet's band, the Mandators, is one of Nigeria's most popular musical outfits and a popular draw in U.S. reggae festivals. Their beat has been described as "electric African rhythm." Essiet might sing in liltingly accented English, or in his own native Ibibio dialect. He sings about the evils of racism and various other-isms. But he spreads a positive message of hope for humanity and the environment -- in a style guaranteed to get the crowd moving.

Tonight, Essiet will be fighting the good fight in the Calumet Arts Cafe, with a Roots Rock Nigerian Reggae Show that starts at 11 p.m. Admission is $5. For more information, call 855-2220.

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