A Barbados parliamentarian, Dr. Sonia Browne, recently criticized internationally popular Jamaican reggae artists Buju Banton and the late Bob Marley. The St. Phillip North MP, addressing the debate on the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) (Amendment) Bill, in the Barbados Parliament said Bajan fans of the entertainer were “romanticizing” him, and, furthermore, neither Buju nor Marley should be considered role models.
“I don’t think we quite understand the seriousness of drug use and abuse. Let me clear it by saying I am a fan of Buju Banton. I admire his music, but when we got a society that more or less romanticises a gentleman coming out of prison, after spending a decade of incarceration on drug charges, when on his ‘long walk to freedom’ — I am not so sure from where — but when we can romanticize that and greet somebody like this at the airport and give them one of the biggest concerts…We need to change the perspective of our young people with respect to our heroes and heroines. We need to change the focus,” insisted Browne.
“Yes, there Bob Marley’s of the world, and I love him too, but from the perspective of the young people, they use him as a prime example that marijuana does nothing. Not everybody can benefit from the clarity I assume he exhibited from marijuana use. Not many people can belt out the lyrics he did. In fact, the majority can’t. We need to change the focus and move to different role models. We have a man like Mr. Banton, that stepped out of prison and now I am sure he is a virtual millionaire. We need to change the focus of who we look up to for our young people,” she continued.
Buju was released from a US prison last December after serving an 8-year sentence on drug-related charges. Since his release, he has received overwhelming support across the Caribbean and his subsequent concert tours across the region, including in Barbados, have been all sold out. The Bajan concert held on April 27 at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, the nation’s capital, drew a very large audience and was described as “the biggest ever in Barbados”.