"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
yeah we wept when we remembered Zion...
Now how shall we sing the Lord´s song in a strange land"
One month ago, after the longest road trip from Finland to Spain, we had just set up our camp in Rototom camping place and we were excitedly waiting midnight for the gates to open the first time for the pre-party of the 2019 edition of Rototom Sunsplash.
Entering the festival is like coming back home; walking the path from the campsite to the entrance has become so familiar we could do it blindfolded.
When the official opening actually happens its with great joy that we hurry to check what's different and what's the same, that we can meet again our Rototom family in the Media Area, in the Radio, at some of the usual stands.
We see kids grow year after year, and we realise our own have grown with the chance to experience, at least while at Rototom, the world as it should always be like: so many colours that colours go unnoticed, so many bodies that shame stops existing, so many differently able people that each way your limbs move or appear they are just fine, so many ages together without the imposed society segregation that toddlers and elders play naturally together.
This year's theme was Stand up for the Earth, and we sure noticed the effort:
"Stand up for Earth had great successes, like having given this edition the title plastic free. It's a firm step in the right direction in defence of the Earth that has been made possible thanks to the elimination of all plastic bottles. This has freed the planet of 11,000 kg of plastic (which is enough to fill 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools) and has prevented the emission of almost 16,500 kg of CO2.Rototom Sunsplash also stood up for Earth by way of the debates and talks that took place in the Social Forum and Ataya (African Village). Many renowned speakers have passed through, such as the indigenous leader and guardian of the Amazon; Sonia Guajajara, the Spanish representative of the student climate movement, Fridays for Future; Gemma Barricarte, as well as the human rights
activist; Sani Ladan."
activist; Sani Ladan."
As for the musical offer, the festival hosted more than 120 concerts on the seven stages, going from Roots to Dancehall and Dub.
The busiest day was Saturday 17th August with 34,000 people that came to see a line-up headed by Busy Signal and the soundtrack show from the film Babylon, one of reggae's biggest cinematic hits, at the hands of Brinsley Forde and Dennis Bovell.
The session on 21st August, with the unstoppable Ziggy Marley; and the day that closes the festival with a special show from Green Valley & Friends that celebrates 10 years of the festival in Spain, also had significant peaks in attendance.
Another highlight of the festival has been always the 21 of august when at the Reggae university, after the movie " 25 years walking together ", Rototom Sunsplash has been awarded with the Africa Peace Award by the United Religions Initiative - Africa, followed by an amazing University session with Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile Selassie, grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie I, about the
Importance of Ethiopia to the Culture and Spirit Heritage of the world .
To summarize this year's edition: during the week, more than 202,000 people from 76 countries have spun to the rhythm of planet Rototom. The majority were from Spain, then followed by France, UK, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden. Alongside these countries, there were also far-flung destinations such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Philippines, Ghana and Kenya that had a presence.From Friday 16th to Thursday 22nd August, 11,000 under-13s have passed through the concert area. In addition, 3,400 over-65s and 3,800 people with disabilities joined the Rototom Sunsplash experience.Rototom Sunsplash 2019 also maintained its commitment to solidarity and social engagement through actions like the campaign to raise funds for Greenpeace with the reusable plastic glass system, setting up a Respect Point for information about sexual aggressions or LGBTphobia, as well as the novel initiative of donating food to reduce waste.The programme of Rototom Sunsplash has also made an additional couple of stops at the prison Castellón II de Albocàsser. The spirit of the festival and the music of Koers (Monday 19th) as well as Green Valley and Macaco (Wednesday 21st) was brought to the inmates there.
After such an experience, now we really feel like we're sitting by the rivers of Babylon, weeping some tears waiting for the next chance to join our dear red, gold and green family in 2020 Rototom Sunsplash Edition.