Reggae lauds the virtuous woman
Krista Henry and Mel Cooke, Sunday Gleaner Writers
While Delilah is decried by men in music, or at least regarded with dismay, the virtuous woman seems to be the ideal.
Buju Banton speaks about the 'virtuous woman' in Wanna Be Loved from his 1995 landmark album Til Shiloh. He observes, "A virtuous woman is really hard to find". He does not define her outright, but goes on to say:
"I'm only human not looking for impossibility
Just a genuine woman with sincerity
Someone who is always there to hold me
Show me you care up front and boldly ... ."
Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley hits on the topic of the virtuous woman as well, in Still Searchin'. After starting out with an observation of the women who "In the twinkling of an eye/dem ready to pull down me Karl Kanhai". It is actually Yami Bolo, with whom Damian and Stephen Marley does the song, who sings "What you never know/a virtuous woman is hard to find".
The definitions, however, are left to Junior Gong:
"So if you is a gal with whole heap a value
What a valuable, nice and decent gal you."
But the ultimate song about the Virtuous Woman is by Warrior King, whose 2001 breakthrough song has that title. He deejays:
"No real man can live without a woman
Like night to day is a woman to her man
She's essential to his purpose and his mission
A good woman is a glory to her man
She'll never take the power, she'll make him a better man
Every great man has a virtuous woman."
In a previous interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Warrior King said that at the time he was writing the song, he was reading The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey. "I was not thinking of it directly but when I read, it come up in my subconsciousness, he said.". So he realises that the opening verse, which starts, "No real man can live without a woman" was related to Garvey's writing, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) founder stating about women "no real man can live without her".
Around the same time, Warrior King said, The Gleaner had published an article in which poet Mutabaruka argued against the definition of a virtuous woman as simply one who has never had sex. Warrior King points out that His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie's wife, Empress Menen, had previous marriages and bore children before the royal union.
And Warrior King recalled Proverbs 31 which, from verse 10 onwards, speaks to the virtuous wife.
There could be some misinterpretation of the lines "She'll never take his power she'll jus make him a better man/a good woman is a glory to her man", especially as Delilah stands accused of letting Samson's enormous physical power be taken away.
Warrior King dismisses any notion that a virtuous woman is one who will not threaten her mate's sense of manhood or weaken him.
"A woman is there to complement you. Mi always say two head better than one," Warrior King said.
Additionally, he said, "She will not make you feel inferior or anything."