While most Jamaicans reveled in the excitement that came with celebrating the island’s Independence on August 6, which also coincided with ongoing celebrations for the island’s Track and Field dominance in the ongoing 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Grammy award-winning Reggae artist and icon, Mark Myrie, more popularly known as Buju Banton, was not in as festive a mood.
The 48-year-old ‘Til Shiloh musical architect took to the popular social media platform, Instagram, to offload some of his ponderings to his over 1.3 million followers in an 18-minute-long video.
Buju, appearing pensive, began his lecture with a reluctant and sarcastic acknowledgment of Independence Day.
“Greetings on this so-called Independence we supposed to have,” he said. “We know we are ‘in di pen’, but the level of passivity mek yuh question wa kinda Independence we have. Are you able to express your thoughts freely? Are you able to launch and establish businesses without the encumbrance of the state?”
The Gargamel, donning a yellow turban and a white T-shirt in the video, then went on to highlight what he believed was “a deadly media blackout” happening in Jamaica.
After hailing Sunshine Radio as being “brave enough” to highlight what he deemed “pressing issues” facing Jamaica and the world at large, he clarified his cryptic “media blackout” message.
“When I say ‘media blackout’, [I mean] my people are not aware that people all over the world are standing up for their rights.”
He continued: “[Most] radio stations are filled with frivolous things that only serve to distract the people from what’s coming! Everybody is pushing a particular narrative that only serves to dumb down my people even more – only things that serve to distract them are being highlighted… yet you’re independent? Unu betta wake up!”
The veteran entertainer’s tirade was characteristic of his long-time persona as a man and messenger of the people, having previously criticized the Jamaican government, in a similar fashion, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, just a few months removed from his being released from prison in the US on drug-related charges.
His criticisms then were strongly rooted in his opposition to the COVID-19 protocols. He was recorded as saying: “Jamaican people need to wake up. Mi nah wear no mask cause mask nuh mek fi man. Wi waa done wid dis mask-wearing [email protected]#% inna Jamaica. Who fi dead a go dead, and who nah go dead haffi jus live. We tired of you intellectual fools trying to tell us how to live our lives.”
This time around, his criticisms are in a similar vein.
“You see what happened in St. Vincent and the Grenadines? A serious someting! Unu don’t get no news from unu media ‘bout wa deh happen noweh else, because all a dem in concerted effort to block di people dem from communicating. That’s why six feet apart and all dem [email protected]#&*$y deh important so unu cyaa communicate or share unu ideas.”
Buju was adamant that those entrusted to deliver us the news and the truth had betrayed us. “Those people in media weh unu love and trust, they have betrayed us? The government has betrayed us! The police have betrayed us!”
His fellow entertainers did not dodge the verbal bullets either.
“Most of the entertainers I expected to speak up fi di people dem have said nothing – nobody nuh waa talk! … Mi see unu destruction a come! All dem want unu do a dance and party and live life, and nothing positive is being contributed to the upliftment of my people, who they are aiming all guns at… and you don’t see it!”
He sealed that section of his rant off with some chilling words: “Yuh busy a run around and doing everything except realizing dat dem coming to kill wi bo*&%[email protected]&t! Mi cyaa save all a unu innuh! The most mi can tell unu fi do a fi save unu self!” He further implored his fellow entertainers to turn off their devices, “wake up” and find out “what is really going on in the world!”
Buju Banton then aimed his sights back at the Jamaican government. “We were told we would have been quarantining for two weeks because of the pandemic, but then two weeks turned into 18 months, yet none a unu seh one [email protected]@s ting! Most a unu jus’ a go wid it, and mi just fall back and a watch unu – cause mi cyaa save all a unu!”
His profanity-laced rant even flew into the direction of Jamaican men he described as being “confused” and lost, who kill women and children, failing to realize they were supposed to be protectors of them.
“All we have are men who are busy killing each other and women and kids. They don’t know what they stand for! We used to be protectors of our women and protectors of our community… that is the way we were. We knew that understanding and loving each other were very important for our forward mobilization as a race of people who desired change! Now all of that has been wiped out by these so-called gun men and bad man, whose pants dem tighter dan di woman dem. Most of them are ‘G-A-Y!’”
The Gargamel let loose his battle cry: “So mi a call all di real man dem: soon and very soon, we have to stand up fi defend not only this nation… we have to stand up and defend each other! … Save up unu rounds dem ‘cause we might need dem later.”
As he wound down, Buju made an appeal: “Let us stand up and be men in this nation so the next generation can come and remember us as men who stood up when our nation was at a crossroad!” Let’s get back to a place of love!” The reggae legend even made a surprising declaration, which seemed to imply that he was wrongly imprisoned. “Unu put I inna ‘wukhouse’ innocently innuh, but mi thank unu…”
He signed off with one final message, seemingly directed at the Jamaican government: “A time go come when unu cyaa walk or drive down di streets a Jamaica – unu affi go drive wid police, soldier and every [email protected]#%[email protected]*&t ting, because di wickidness weh unu do to da nation ya, if unu think seh we naa document it, unu mek a terrible mistake!”
The video has since amassed over 206-thousand views, and was co-signed by notable figures such as Lila Iké, who commented an ‘on target’ emoji; Rohan Marley, son of the legendary Bob Marley, Stefflon Don, and others