The Story of “True Born African”

I grew up on Reggae music, listening to the tapes and records in my Dad’s collections before I was old enough to start collecting my own favorite Jamaican sounds. As a traditional skinhead & SHARP in the 90s, I grabbed up classic 60s records and mailed away cash to tape distros for bootleg copies of rare sounds. Alton Ellis & The Flames was one of my favorite groups, and there in the harmonies was Winston “Flames” Jarrett. Later in life, when I reformed my lifestyle and began trodding Rastafari way, my Mother clued me in to the film The Harder They Come, and there was Winston again as a background character in the record studio.

When I first met Winston at Nyabinghi Ises in Seattle, we had a lot to talk about. Resonating on many levels, with Rastafari reasonings and music appreciation, I became his go-to ride around town to events and gatherings. We bonded listening to classic tunes in his apartment and hearing his stories about the Studio One days in Jamaica.

In 2011, I opened an office in Seattle’s University District for my film & video production company. One of the big missions I had in mind at the time was to collaborate with each of my friends who were artists and creatives and do some kind of video together. This led to a lot of interesting screenwriting projects and music videos, as well as the Kickstarter campaign for True Born African.

We filmed a few interviews and live performances in Seattle before the Kickstarter. Then, on the success of our campaign, I flew down to Kingston with Winston for a week of filming in Jamaica in 2012. I also hired a camera man to film his performance at Reggae on the River in California, and another to film some shows in Seattle that I couldn’t make it to. All of this source footage went into the film, which was my labor of love for Winston’s and his soulful music.

True Born African premiered at the Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival in 2013. There were also a couple of screening events in Seattle at that time. For a while, the only way to actually watch the film was at one of these events, or by purchasing a DVD from Winston at his concerts. In 2016, we had interest from a distribution company. At their request, we created a new live concert film in cooperation with the Seattle Art Museum’s Summer at SAM concert series. This became a special feature on the double-disc collector’s edition DVDs.

With the DVD market coming to an end and our distribution company not quite ready to enter the 21st century of streaming services, we severed that relationship in 2019. From that point on, the film was made available free to view on YouTube, and in the collector’s DVD box sets for those die-hards out there.

True Born African can now be viewed only by my “Rasta Reggae Supporters” on Patreon ( or those who purchase those collector’s edition DVD box sets on eBay.

Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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