Celebrating the Life of Zumbi (of Zion I)

A memorial celebration for Zumbi was planned for Sunday Aug. 22 at Brooklyn Basin’s Township Commons on Oakland’s waterfront. Event organizers were overwhelmed by the community response. According to Zion-I’s former manager Rob Collins, approximately 2000 to 3000 people were expected to attend. This raised health concerns given the delta variant’s spread in the community, so the event was moved to a virtual platform (Sway’s Universe) and live-streamed from the Hieroglyphics complex in East Oakland.

It was a fitting tribute to Zumbi’s contributions over the years, highlighted by guest appearances from a cast of characters who were part of the Zion-I story: emcees Deuce Eclipse and The Grouch, singers Goapele, Michael Marshall, and Codany Holiday, pianist/emcee Kev Choice, and producer/co-collaborator Amp Live. The celebration, in front of a large mural of Gaines and an array of candles and flowers, kicked off with an invocation by Audiopharmacy’s Love Cruz and a song by Goapele. The format was a career retrospective in reverse chronology ending with a set encompassing Zion I’s first two albums by DJ J Period, who flew in from New York for the occasion. At its peak, more than 1000 people watched live, filling up the comments section with affirmations of Zion-I’s music and its effect on them, or simply typing in “Z.

- Eric Arnold, Oaklandside

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