Buju preaches peace at concert, says too many “butcher shop” murders in Trinidad

Buju preaches peace at concert, says too many “butcher shop” murders in Trinidad
Jamaican reggae artiste Buju Banton. © EDISON BOODOOSINGH
Jamaican reggae artiste Buju Banton. * EDISON BOODOOSINGH

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — The at­mos­phere at the Queen’s Park Sa­van­nah was lit, es­pe­cial­ly with the over­pow­er­ing scent of mar­i­jua­na at Sun­day’s I Am Leg­end Con­cert but with­in all the fun, Gram­my-win­ning leg­end Bu­ju Ban­ton sobered the au­di­ence in call­ing the coun­try out on its ram­pant mur­ders.

Com­mand­ing the full at­ten­tion of one of the most di­verse au­di­ences for a reg­gae con­cert in Trinidad, Bu­ju, re­al name Mark Myrie, took time out from his set to tell them that they need­ed to have a talk.

“Don’t you think there are things that we need to talk about? Like all these mur­ders and all these killings. We’re not ac­cus­tomed to that, what is go­ing on in Trinidad? Now, we know Trinidad from a time when we could walk and go every­where in peace.

“What is go­ing on now? Kid­nap­ping, mur­der. I don’t mean reg­u­lar mur­der, butch­er-shop mur­der. What is go­ing on? The youths, un­der­stand your­self, or else you will find your­self be­ing a ma­nure that grows a tree that no­body eats a fruit from. Think about it,” he said.

The artiste, who boasts of a reper­toire of groovy love hits, bub­bling dance­hall and con­scious reg­gae, called on cit­i­zens to re­flect on their lives.

“Can I re­al­ly sus­tain my fam­i­ly in this house­hold based on the in­come I am re­ceiv­ing? And then we ask our­selves, what if I should take sick, how will I com­pen­sate for that un­ex­pect­ed event? And then we ask our­selves, what is life?”

Bu­ju Ban­ton was im­pris­oned in the US for al­most 10 years on a charge of co­caine traf­fick­ing. He was re­leased on De­cem­ber 7 from the McRae Cor­rec­tion­al In­sti­tu­tion in Geor­gia. But when he emerged on stage at 10.25 pm, al­most six hours af­ter the con­cert start­ed, it was al­most like his ca­reer nev­er halt­ed. The husky voice, the en­er­gy and the abil­i­ty to cre­ate a stir were still there. So an­tic­i­pat­ed was his per­for­mance that some of the oth­er acts suf­fered from a sub­dued au­di­ence.

On­ly Kes the Band, up­com­ing Ja­maican sen­sa­tion Kof­fee and the vet­er­an Lu­ciano were able to make deep im­pres­sions on the night. Ear­li­er on, artistes Atak­lan and Mr King got the show rolling with their lo­cal reg­gae of yes­ter­year. Kes the Band took the reg­gae-lov­ing fans back to Car­ni­val with his “Sa­van­nah Grass,” “Wot­less” and “Nah Let Go.” He al­so re­mind­ed them of his crossover hits like “End­less Sum­mer” and “Tues­day on the Rock” and showed ver­sa­til­i­ty by per­form­ing a few reg­gae hits, in­clud­ing an im­pres­sive per­for­mance of Siz­zler’s “Dry Cry.”

What tru­ly ful­filled the au­di­ence was the many moods of Bu­ju Ban­ton and his Shiloh Band as they per­formed for just un­der two hours. Start­ing off with a brief Our Fa­ther prayer in song, he first belt­ed out his 1997 hit, “Hills and Val­leys,” for which he com­mand­ed the au­di­ence like a choir while fire­works filled the back­ground. He fol­lowed up with con­scious lyrics from his songs, “Close One Yes­ter­day” and “Mighty Dred.”

He then took the au­di­ence back to his youth­ful dance­hall days with “Cham­pi­on,” his lover’s reper­toire of “Don’t Cry” and “Wan­na Be Loved” and al­though there was no Beres Ham­mond to col­lab­o­rate with for their famed “Falling in Love All Over Again,” the au­di­ence filled in. He brought on Wayne Won­der on­to his set for their pop­u­lar “I Don’t Know Why.”

Lo­cal artistes, in­clud­ing Isas­ha, Zig­gy Rankin and Prophet Ben­jamin were stage front with their ladies rock­ing the night away. You were sure it was the reg­gae con­cert of the decade with the amount of mar­i­jua­na smoke ris­ing above the stage, leav­ing non-smok­ers feel­ing high. This hap­pened de­spite the pres­ence of Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith and al­most his en­tire Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team along with Guard and Emer­gency Branch of­fi­cers in ri­ot gear.

Bu­ju Ban­ton’s abrupt end at 11.53 pm left pa­trons con­fused as to whether their night was done.

While the night was en­joy­able, there were com­plaints from pa­trons who had to form long lines in the VIP area to pur­chase chits for the bar. Those look­ing for a re­minder of the epic night pur­chased con­cert T-Shirts for US$40. And while se­cu­ri­ty at the event was ever present, event se­cu­ri­ty vent­ed their dis­plea­sure at a few po­lice of­fi­cers who used their po­si­tions to get their friends in­to the con­cert for free.


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