Monday 6 April, 2020

A view from the outside: Buju Banton doesn't owe anyone an explanation

Buju Banton (Buju Banton Instagram)

Buju Banton (Buju Banton Instagram)

                                                                  With Karyl Walker

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

It was somewhere in St Elizabeth. A Jamaica Labour Party political meeting was in full swing and the party bigwigs were in attendance.

The rum was flowing and the reggae and dancehall music blared through the speakers.

The song that was playing?

Me baby madda say me bad, me too bad, me too bad.

All the party bigwigs played to the masses. They danced, pranced and gave the impression that the JLP was the solution to Jamaica’s problems.

Dr Christopher Tufton was there. He was not dancing on a pole, but he was very much involved.

With everything that is going wrong with Jamaica’s health system, Minister Chris Tufton could not choose a worse time to publicly call on Buju Banton to explain his actions that landed him in prison.

So hold on? Is Buju supposed to be convicted twice?

Dr Christopher Tufton

The man served his time. He was tried twice, found guilty and sentenced. Now, eight years after, must he be hauled over the coals again and be forced to explain why he got caught in the web of drug trafficking?

I think not.

Like every other Jamaican reggae fan who followed the career of the mercurial artiste, I was taken aback by news of his arrest and the sordid details that led to his conviction. But that cannot be how we will define one of the talented sons of our soil who made his mistake, paid the price and now wants to resume his life of doing what he does best.

Explain what?

Tufton is in a different position. He is paid by the public purse. If 16 deaths occur due to a dengue fever outbreak under his watch, that needs some explanation. The state of the health care system in Jamaica is down in the dumps. No fault of Tufton as he inherited the mess, but perhaps his energies could be spent trying to repair that instead of focusing on what one Jamaican citizen did on his private time.

In short, there is no Jamaican politician who is in any moral position to play holier than thou when it comes to Buju.

I lived through the 1970s. In the 1980s, Jamaica became a cocaine transshipment port.

I was born and raised on Red Hills Road, a place that was once called the New York City of Jamaica because it never slept. In 1980, cocaine took over and that saw a rise in property crimes. Thieves were rampant.

My friend, in a fit of rage, killed his brother with a cutlass because his brother stole every item of furniture and appliance out of his parents’ house to pawn them for another high. The colour television set his younger sibling tried to steal was the last straw and my friend went to prison because he could no longer watch as his younger brother did everything to destroy what his parents worked so hard for.

That is what hard drugs did.

While there is no hard evidence, it is fair to say that cocaine could not have been trafficked through the country at the time if politicians were not complicit or did not turn a blind eye.

There were always a cache of illegal guns in Jamaica but, after 1980, guns, especially those of the high powered rifle kind, flooded the country.

Who was responsible for that?

We all have made our mistakes. It’s just that our mistakes were not public enough to be picked apart, examined and judged under the media microscope.

Let us give Buju Banton some time to exorcise his own demons.

Judge not that ye be not judged.

That is my view from the outside.

Karyl Walker is a multi-award-winning journalist who has worked for Loop Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer, the RJR Communications Group and Nationwide Radio among other media entities. He now resides in South Florida.

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