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Buju Welcome But Song’S ‘Bye, Bye’

Buju Banton

Buju Banton

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

AS a local promotion company ramps up advertisements for a Buju Banton concert, one prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist says as long as the Jamaican reggae star ignores his most controversial song, Boom Bye Bye, his performance should not be opposed.

The LGBT community has historically been one of Mr Banton’s fiercest critics.

A promotion company, Paradise Production Inc, is advertising a March 30 concert for the artist at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium. A representative of the company said yesterday a contract has already been signed involving the national stadium and the artist. He said a work permit was approved on December 19, 2018. However, government officials could not confirm this week if Mr Banton has received a work permit for the event. 

Immigration Minister Brent Symonette said Mr Banton’s work visa has not yet come across his desk for approval. Attorney General Carl Bethel said if there is a “lawful basis for some objection” to Mr Banton’s appearance, the matter would likely be dealt with by Cabinet.

Immigration Director Clarence Russell became belligerent when asked about the matter yesterday.

He claimed responding to the question would violate the Official Secrets Act. Pressed on the matter, he abruptly hung up the phone.

Mr Banton was released from McRae Correctional Centre in Georgia on December 8, 2018 after seven years in prison for possessing and distributing cocaine.

He subsequently announced a “Long Walk To Freedom Tour”, beginning on March 16 in Jamaica. He reportedly has other events planned for Trinidad and Antigua.

In 2009, concert promoters LiveNation and AEG Live cancelled his concerts because of homophobic lyrics in his songs, particularly his 1992 hit which called for murdering homosexuals. 

But Erin Greene, local LGBT activist, said as offensive as “Boom Bye Bye” continues to be, Mr Banton should not be defined by that song.

“The song ‘Boom Bye Bye’ is just one element of his portfolio and his life and he should not be defined by that one moment in the same way that advocates in the LGBT community asks that we not define somebody by their sexuality or one moment of their life,” she said. “I think Buju is such an important Afro-diasporic and Caribbean cultural figure, we should not dismiss his work because of this one song.”

Reggae and dancehall music have never shied away from homophobic lyrics, but Ms Greene said no song embodied homophobia more than Mr Banton’s 1992 song.

“I can never forget the song, it’s lyrics and the impact of its lyrics on the lives of thousands and thousands if not millions of queer Caribbean people,” she said. “We can’t forget it and we can’t dismiss it. It was a song written by a 15-year-old boy in the wake of an attack against a small child by a man who was presumed to be homosexual even though he committed a paedophilic act. The song itself was adopted as an anthem for anti-gay rights advocates and for people who oppose homosexuality for whatever reason. It was used as a tool to strike fear and threaten gay people and we can never dismiss that. Buju has addressed the matter a couple of times publicly although not to the satisfaction of many members of the LGBT community.

“My feeling about is this, Buju should be allowed to perform on conditions, the first being that they do not play the song. Don’t let him sing it, don’t let the audience sing it, don’t reference it, keep it out of the portfolio.

“Acknowledging that for many LGBT people in the community, Buju also represents a figure of liberation against colonial and imperialist structures, all of us, gay and straight, have to reconcile with the complexities of human life and interactions as communities.”

She added: “Buju Banton is an icon. He is a representation of the struggle of poor Caribbean people, particularly Africans and their struggle through a world that’s obviously not designed for them. Buju Banton is an icon separate from the song ‘Boom Bye Bye.’ We need to be able to see Buju as a complex figure.”

Comments

ACCP 6 months ago

Why is it that the LGBT community put demands on heterosexual individuals, when their concept or belief is centered around freedom of expression, speech and all open freedoms. The LGBT community is a genuine role model to ineffective movements

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ButchPlease 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Dude, you guys need to read the article. It's used to threaten gay people so it shouldn't be sung, that's all. And it's only ineffective because people like you are so homophobic you only read when they say you SHOULDN'T do something.

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Sickened 6 months ago

I'm not the greatest fan of Ms. Greene but how she approached this topic I think is very mature and sensible. I play this song quite often and one day recognized that my young daughters were now singing the lyrics. As a responsible parent I did explain to both of them what the lyrics meant (I didn't know the background as stated above) so that they were not ignorant of the fact that their chanting the words may one day offend many people. I certainly intend to go to this concert.

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licks2 6 months ago

I am in the stretch on to 70 years old. . .I heard that song for many years. . .but I never understood the lyrics of the song. . .further more, one ignorant bigoted man can't make me hate, discriminate of kill a person for being gay. . .if I do, then I will have to start with one of my own!! But miss Green should be the last person encouraging censoring any person because her community don't like his song. . .in a country where freedom of expression is enshrined in our constitution!! She must remember that the Bahamian society do not "freely embrace" her life style. . .yet she insisted that censorship is the right way to quite free speech rather that toleration of adverse opinions! He very action make censorship common law. . .others can use her decision in a court of law if they find them self before a judge for censoring a person for being gay!!

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ButchPlease 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I see your point, but these lyrics are threatening towards other people, and THAT'S why she says they should be censored. This is a very delicate topic, though.

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sealice 6 months ago

he's such an important Afro-diasporic and Caribbean cultural figure that i am gonna forget what an angry dyke i am and go see the concert myself cus errybody ga be dere!!!

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ButchPlease 5 months, 3 weeks ago

THIS IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COMMENT I HAVE EVER READ OHMYGOD

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Sylvia 6 months ago

There is a difference between free speech and speech that incites violence. It's criminal to threaten one w physical harm and it's criminal to recruit agents for that purpose. Hate whomevever you want, that's a personal issue. Hopefully Mr. Banton will continue to inspire oppressed people to resist colonial and imperial domination. Hopefully, he now understands that those same power structures use the strategy of divide and conquer to maintain power over the oppressed. I agree w Erin Greene's position of communities accepting complexity and at the same time prohibiting incitement to murder.

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jackbnimble 6 months ago

When the referendum for gender equality was unitially proposed Ms. Green came out as the spokesperson for her community in favor of it. In my iopinion thst support helped to fuel the ‘no’ vote and I guess she realized her mistake and tried to backtrack by saying she and her community were voting against it. People seemed to become even more suspicious and by the time the voters got around to actually voting the ‘no’ vote was firmly entrenched in their minds and the whole bill was dubbed ‘the sissy bill’. To this day I believe Erin Green’s initial support helped to kill the bill. Now here we are again with a statement from her saying ‘Bu Ju’ cannot sing his ‘boom boom’ song and again it seems to be having the opposite affect because social media is now crucifying her. Every post, all day I’m reading hundreds of remarks about Ms Green 99% of which are extremely negative. Not only has her press realease brought attention to the song, but the persons who clearly plan to attend seem determined to get the artist to either sing the song or find a way to sing it themselves just to show her up.

Ms Green needs to take stock. In my mind she is not the best representative of this community because even her picture seems to incite the very hate she fights against and her press releases seem to draw out the very rebellion she wants to suppress.

I predict the song will be played or sung by the crowd just to make her look like a fool. #my5cents

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ButchPlease 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Hm. Maybe so. Why does everybody hate her I wonder, though?

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TalRussell 6 months ago

Yes or no. For comrade director immigration have answered the reporter's simple - was there work permit granted question would have violated the Official Secrets Act...... have all connected Imperials lost their marbles. Yes, no?

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joeblow 5 months, 4 weeks ago

... but, but what about those who want to go just to hear that song, what about their rights??

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ButchPlease 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It incites/supports gay violence. Sorry my dude, but it's like playing a song that says you should lynch all black people. Hope you enjoy the concert anyway?

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