The Barbados Youth Action Programme, a Government affiliate under the chairmanship of Member of Parliament Hamilton Lashley, has scheduled performances of the Jamaican duo Movado and Vybz Kartel [SIC] for a reggae show on March 27 at the Midway House carpark, Bay Street, The City according to the Nation newspaper. The quote is instructive to shed some clarity on the current debate in Barbados about whether Movado and Vybz Kartel should be allowed to perform in Barbados.
Another quote which is instructive is extracted from the Jamaican Gleaner newspaper of the weekend: Olivia Grange, minister of youth, sports and culture, responding to this latest saga in dancehall, said: “I am concerned and I have expressed concern about the content in some dancehall songs. I believe strongly in freedom of expression, but that comes with great responsibility. We can do without some of the lyrics, not only in dancehall recordings, but soca and hip hop too, and that is why we took steps to clean up the airwaves. This is an ongoing process.
We have two contrasting positions, a naive member of parliament Hamilton Lashley who believes adding Movado and Vybz Kartel to the entertainment mix of Barbados will help the youth of Barbados to reject violent behaviour. Bear in mind the two dancehall artists have developed a reputation built on violence and smutty lyrics in Jamaica, although the much publicized peace treaty has been getting a lot of air play. The view expressed by Grange, the minister of youth tells a story of an embattled Jamaica currently battling with the negatives of the dancehall culture.
In light of Barbados’ current challenge with tackling deviant behaviour in the wider society and particularly among the youth, it seems a no-brainer to BU that as a country we should take a deep breath, take a step back and tell the Jamaican dancehall duo to stay the hell away from Barbados at this time. Of concern is the fact Commissioner Darwin Dottin who is responsible for maintaining law and order in Barbados has expressed distaste at the staging of the reggae show which has been dubbed a peace concert. Clearly a public relations scam by the promoters of the show to deflect the criticism by many who are concerned about the gaza gully conflict which Movado and Vybz Kartel have been embroiled in Jamaica. Yes the gaza gully conflict is relevant to the Jamaican culture but who cares, it is what the two dancehall artists represent, crime and violence!
Minister of Education Ronald Jones has also publically expressed his displeasure at the staging of the show. It was only last week Jones held a meeting with principals of our schools to map an approach to stamping out deviant behaviour in Barbados. It is therefore very surprising that the promoter continues to advise Barbados the show is still on. By whose authority?
Part of the problem in Barbados has been our willingness to be politically correct. There is the argument proffered by Wickham et al, the liberals, that in a CSME arrangement Barbados would be violating the spirit of such an arrangement. It seems that there is an acceptance that if the balance of payment situation is threatened; Barbados has the ‘out’ to implement policies contrary to the economic and partnership agreements. However on the flipside if Barbados feels that its moral positioning is being threatened, we have to sit with our hands between the legs and do nothing.
There is great interest being shown by many to see how this matter will play-out. If the show goes forward it becomes a slap in the faces of Commissioner Dottin and Minister Jones. It does nothing for how these two important figureheads in our society would be perceived by Barbadians. Already the two are battling beleaguered positions.
BU is aware that Prime Minister David Thompson and family are fans of dancehall and there is nothing wrong with them liking this genre of music. In this case we believe the banning of Movado and Vybz Kartel by the Barbados authorities given what they represent becomes a symbolic gesture which sends the message, this is our society and we intend to fight back. Obviously one single act will not do it but in light of the many weeds and cracks which have started to appear on our lawn; we have to fight back.
Yes the deviance must be tackled in the homes but guess what, we have many children who don’t live in homes. This means the government by proxy must play the role as step-father, or stepmother for that matter.