Stabroek News:- Nearly 12 years after his last concert here, Jamaican reggae icon and dancehall artiste Buju Banton returned to Guyana with a sold out performance early Sunday morning during which he urged youths to choose harmony and denounce crime.
He did not disappoint the over 20,000 fans who came out, amidst overcast skies and the occasional drizzle, to the Providence Stadium as when the 46-year-old’s energy-packed hour and a half performance was completed, the fans begged for more.
“A lot of persons are no longer here in Guyana and some are alive and still not here, they say ‘big up Roger Khan, big up the man that (inaudible) nuff youths chop out.’ When will the youths of Guyana learn that this does not pay? When will the youths them learn to live together?” Banton questioned, before bellowing out his famous gun control melody ‘Mr 9’.
Banton – whose given name is Mark Myrie – was released from a US prison last December after serving seven years for his involvement in a cocaine trafficking plot, and he connected with the crowd as at intervals, he reflected on the fragility of life and spoke on current world issues.
Banton’s Guyana stop came amid his highly-anticipated ‘Long Walk to Freedom – I am Legend’ concert tour. His directness struck a chord with his fans and most spoke about this after the show.
“The Buju Banton show was nothing short of fantastic. His performance was great! He connected with his audience and he brought his A game as always. Listening to him live was an amazing experience…it is almost as if he never left the stage,” Anaira Collins told Stabroek News after the event.
“I loved the fact that he used his music last night to remind the youth that violence and gun crimes are not the answer to their troubles…,” she added.
Banton took to the stage at around 1:20 am on Sunday to a large fireworks display which drowned out the screams of his name in the National Stadium tarmac, which was filled to capacity.
Clad in a linen suit accessorised with a huge gold cross pendant around his neck and black leather boots, Banton opened his performance with his customary version of the Lord’s Prayer.
And for about one and a half hour after his first song, he did not take a break, stopping only twice for sips of water from a bottle his management team held at the side of the stage.
But it was popular songs such as ‘Driver Don’t stop at all,’ ‘Walk like a champion,’ and ‘Love Sponge’ that drew the loudest screams and audience participation during the concert.
When he spoke of life and focusing on education of the population and living in harmony, he broke out into song after letting the crowd know that ‘It is not an easy road’ to achieving those things and that it required will.
Reflecting on his previous visits here as compared to the current atmosphere, Banton posited that Guyana was once a country, especially in the Demerara area, where it was not safe to live as, “Years ago, Guyana was just a place you couldn’t even enter [leave] your house open. Nobody’s there when you go down by the Demerara [area] safety, safety…,” he said. In this regard, he alluded to Roger Khan.
Banton’s message seemed to have been taken out of context and caused a social media uproar yesterday as only a 30-second excerpt from his reasoning with the crowd was posted by someone unknown with a caption that read “Buju Banton bigs up Roger Khan”.
Many persons then began to question why would Banton hail a convicted drug kingpin, while others made the issue political.
But for the patrons, except for the long lines to enter and the lack of traffic control, the show was nothing short of stellar. “I came to Guyana on Saturday night and from the airport was to the show. Buju could not be here and I did not attend. It was worth my money; every single cent and yes I would do it again,” Shaka Roland said.
“The VVIP was found wanting in many areas and the organisers need to look at this for other shows because it was a turn off for me…the show itself was everything I imagined and more. The Gargamel still has it, he never lost it,” Niffy Smith said.