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This Time We Should Boycott Buju Banton

EDITOR, The Tribune

Buju Banton was three years old when the late Bob Marley lived in Nassau and spent hours on end, enthralled with chasing a soccer ball around Fort Charlotte in blissful solitude. He was recuperating from being shot at his home in Jamaica.

Marley was a high priest of non-violence and a disciple of Rastafarianism, a religion homegrown in Jamaica that preaches social justice, human dignity and a non-negotiable belief in God whom they call Jah.

Banton was six when Marley gave a concert here in Nassau in 1979 to celebrate the International Year of the Child. He was invited by none other than the late Beryl Hanna, wife of former Governor General Arthur Hanna, and retired Justice Ruby Nottage, former Chancellor of the Anglican Church, and others.

Marley would have celebrated his 74th birthday on Wednesday, February 6. Many have tried to follow in his footsteps. Most have fallen short.

Buju Banton is no Bob Marley. Marley was a reggae phenomenon. Banton peddles a reggae clone called dancehall. Where reggae is calming and soothing and points out societal injustice, dancehall puts the darker elements of society right in your face and recommends on the spot revenge solutions to eradicate ills, perceived slights or phobias.

One thing Mr Banton hopes to have in common with Mr Marley is that he too wants to play at the sports centre here and is booked to do that next month.

This is a free country and we should all be appalled at censorship of art and artists. Some art is deliberately offensive and so what? But we do have a public safety obligation to ensure that artists do not use our public fora to incite others to cause harm, to incite violence, harassment or to threaten others.

Banton says he was just 14 years old when he penned a ballad that was reflective of life as he saw it growing up in a rough patch of Jamaica. So incensed was he by the sexual violation of a minor by a paedophile he alleged to be gay that the only thing his mind could conjure up was to get a gun and rain down bullets on gay people for no other reason than because they were gay.

But the lyrics of his song is a virtual recitation of why he hates homosexuality and thinks that all gays, or “batty bwoys” in his parlance, must die.

Banton is a businessman and so his bank account suffered when promoters in the US and Europe started cancelling concerts in which he was featured. His lyrics were offensive and too third world for the first world.

The compromise was that Banton would stop singing songs with homophobic lyrics but only while performing at select venues. He never disavowed his own abhorrence towards gays.

Banton is now an ex-convict having spent time in federal prison in the US on drugs charges. He is set to embark on his own redemption tour which, not surprisingly so far, doesn’t include travel to countries, entry to which might require him to first obtain a visa. Countries that the Jamaican vernacular refer to as “Big Foreign”.

His initial tour schedule is limited to the Caribbean – Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. This will produce a boon for tourism as the metaphorical foreign mountain will undoubtedly travel to hear the Jamaican Mohammed. Banton remains wildly popular and there is a public relations buzz and a marketing curiosity over whether the time he spent in the pokey stoked his creative juices.

The government ought to defer only to the Commissioner of Police as to whether a permit should be issued for the concert here, but if the Commissioner gives the green light then right-minded Bahamians should be motivated to boycott this homophobe, even if he pledges not to sing about killing gays.

It was most interesting that human rights campaigner Erin Greene has endorsed the Banton concert even while using a very weak and naïve argument to support doing so.

Her qualification to the endorsement was that he not sing one particular song about killing gay people. Other than that, she reasons, he is a fine upstanding Caribbean cultural icon who could presumably moonlight as a Sunday school teacher.

This is patently absurd. Mr Banton’s opinion on sexuality hasn’t evolved and nor has he tried to use his music to change hardened homophobic positions in his legions of fans. In a statement issued years ago he attempted to make nice but made things worse. Said Mr Banton: “There is no end to the war between me and faggots.” Perhaps he got sensitivity training in prison.

Ms Greene is clearly prepared to give Banton the benefit of the doubt. The rest of The Bahamas should not. Only a direct hit to his pocketbook will bring about any softening of the hardened position by this man who uses the facade of a religion of peace to glorify intolerance.

Mr Banton needs a redemption tour, to be sure, but it should start with acknowledging his role in fostering hate through lyrics.

Banton pleads to be accepted for who he is in his song “Wanna Be Loved”, but then denies that same consideration to gays who probably only wanna be left alone.

THE GRADUATE

Nassau

February 7, 2019

Comments

CuriousAbaconian 3 days, 7 hours ago

Yawn. Many of us said or did things as fourteen year olds our adult selves would be ashamed of - we are just lucky enough it wasn't made into a hit song. If you look at the scope of his work, much of it is about love. Anyone that has actually listened to Buju's music knows that, and one song doesn't define him.

Furthermore, I was physically present when he made his statement about "war" on homosexuals. He was being picketed by gay rights groups who had forced him to cancel multiple upcoming shows. Not saying it was right, but I feel it was said out of frustration and a "me vs. them" mentality. They were/are affecting his wallet, as you have pointed out, perhaps that should be enough. If you don't want to see him, don't buy a ticket, it's that simple.

One last thing - he doesn't even perform the song in question. Destiny, Untold Stories, Hills and Valleys, No More Misty Days, Not An Easy Road, Single Parent, Murderer, etc., all voice support for peace, love, and detail the struggles we all face in everyday life. Why ignore 99% of his work to focus on one song he wrote..........when he was.......fourteen?

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slaytanic 3 days, 6 hours ago

Wtaf is wrong with you? Did someone not pay you off enough to speak nicely?

First of all; Buju Banton, doesn't owe anyone anything other than himself and his God & who he sees fit. I am quite positive you are none of the aforementioned so who exactly gives YOU the right to judge anyone while hypocritically denigrating a great man/human being for something you suggest he has also done in the past!? Even worse, you are making accusatory (pre) violent and fear mongering remarks towards a man you know nothing about today-at 45 years old, in 2019. More than that actually, you are doing it to the entire genre of dancehall! Which, by the way, could arguably be called the most popular music in Jamaica.

Your tirade is supposedly all about Bob Marley & peace, love, the meaning of reggae & acceptance of others yet all you are doing with your "article" is bashing a fellow human being. Do you get that? Does that make sense to you? Are you proud of yourself? While on the topic, do you know how Bob Marley & his family have been great supporters of soccer/football? Do you know how many people are displaced, beaten, murdered by local police, redirected to more intense poverty, starved, gone without water, ETC. ETC.-including the LGBTQ/TRANS community, all just to have it look nice & pretty for the tourists to come to town for the Fifa World Cup (wherever it is that year)? Maybe you should research how the Marley's support that AND capitalism before you start handing out any sort of suggestion about Buju's "character" as a man on this planet. Capitalism is surely NOTHING for the poor or the people Marley supposedly was singing about, right? How many business are now registered under tha Marley name? Million dollar businesses? You need to do some research Mr/Mrs Editor bc you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. That or everyone that is reading your writings chooses not to think for themselves.

Lastly, "Perhaps he got sensitivity training in prison" Are you serious?
This man has been held in captivity for nearly 10 years, in a country not of his own, over one mistake in his life. Do you think that hit his wallet hard enough? He's paid his dues, many times over. He will prevail don't worry. I am sure Buju doesn't need OR want your $$.

You need to repent to your God for your outlandish and evil thoughts on another human being. Also-READ.

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sheeprunner12 3 days, 4 hours ago

People have two options .......... buy Banton's concert tickets or not buy his concert tickets.

People still buy/listen to the music of Vybz Cartel ......... and he is in jail for murder

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slaytanic 3 days, 1 hour ago

Seriously? You Just made my point about reading/thinking for yourself. BuJu Banton isn't nor has he ever been in jail for murder! OMG

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