Hands up in support of a ban
In wake of the presence of the Ebola virus in some parts of Africa and recently in the US, iconic selector Ricky Trooper has called on the Ministry of Health to ban musicians from travelling to and from Africa.
Despite an earlier advisory from the Ministry of Health warning persons against travelling to the Ebola affected areas of Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone in West Africa for entertainment and other purposes, recording artistes continue to work in other parts of the continent, many contending that they will be safe there. However, other entertainers have come out in support of Ricky Trooper's call for an overall ban on travelling to the continent on a whole.
Popular emcee and producer, Tommy Cowan, told The Sunday Gleaner that while he supports Ricky Trooper's concern, he would only endorse a travelling ban which targets some African countries instead of the entire African continent.
"I would say in certain areas. Africa is a big place, but I don't think musicians should be going to places like Liberia at this time. We should not use a brush and paint the entire Africa, but I definitely support a ban on certain countries," he said.
Cowan also highlighted the health ministry's poor management of the chikungunya virus outbreak, and warned that an Ebola outbreak could be worse if the Government does not hastily prepare itself for the worse.
Fantan Mojah, however, was less willing to give up on the Mother Land. He says placing a ban on travelling to Africa would be a drastic decision, because Africans are not to be blamed for the creation of the virus. Fantan Mojah is a firm believer in the conspiracies of biological warfare, and says his brothers and sisters in Africa have been through too much to be deprived of their right to travel as well.
"I am not going to say write off Mama Africa, because it is not the people who carry that virus on themselves. I would definitely go to Africa to perform, because it is a continent and it's only a little part that is affected," he said.
Plans are already in the making for Fantan to perform in Africa come December. He also did not rule out performing in countries affected with the virus, citing that he is watching the news for updates. "I am trying to keep updated on the news to see if they have it under control. We in Jamaica are firm believers in the Almighty ... but mi just cyah put a ban pon the Mother Land," Fantan Mojah said.
Reggae artiste Chuck Fenda also expressed his love for Africa; however, unlike Fantan Mojah, the artiste says the ban on Africa should take place with immediate effect. The artiste believes travelling to Africa during the crisis is a gamble and warned that artistes who decide to make the trip are putting others at risk.
"We will be putting our lives and the lives of others in danger. A man will sey he is performing in a country that is not infected, but people travel all over Africa to attend shows ... sometimes you perform and you don't know where the person comes from that is embracing you, nor where the person has been. We embrace our brothers and sisters in Africa, but in order to control the virus we should shut down all performances there," he said.
MORE INFORMATION NEEDED
Recording artistes Mr Vegas and Bling Dawg also commented on the idea of having a complete ban on African travels. Mr Vegas says he would contact the relevant authority before travelling to certain places in Africa to perform; however, more information needs to be presented to the public about the virus. Bling Dawg, however, does not support any ban on movement, period.
The deejay says it is not logical to ban musicians from travelling, yet tourists are allowed to visit the island. He also questioned if Americans would be banned as well, since an infected person is currently receiving treatment in Texas.
In the meantime, doctors at the nation's hospitals, particularly the University Hospital of the West Indies, do not have the safety gear needed to treat affected persons, and some say they will not expose themselves or their charges by treating Ebola patients.
In a workshop hosted on Wednesday, in light of the outbreak in Africa, it was disclosed that health officials in Jamaica did not have the requisite hazard-management gear, nor has the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention approve personal protection equipment to deal with the Ebola virus.
A prominent doctor at the intensive care unit (ICU) also stated that local doctors and nurses would not be treating patients with Ebola for their own safety.
"We don't have any money in Jamaica, but if it comes, I don't know how many of us are going to be willing to come to work. We in ICU are not going to deal with it. I'm not going to expose my doctors and nurses to that," he continued. "So Accident and Emergency would have to decide what they are going to do with the first one (case)." The doctors also disclosed that there is no designated area for quarantine.
Africa is currently one of the strongest markets for reggae and dancehall music. Recording artiste Kalado recently returned from Africa, where he performed in Zimbabwe, while fellow artistes Alaine and Chris Martin recently embarked on trips to the continent. Reggae singer Luciano is also set to perform in the southeast African country of Malawi on October 19.