THE EDITOR, Sir:
Whenever I hear the name Vybz Kartel, immediately lewd music, skin bleaching, murder charges and a public figure, who believes he is not socially responsible, come to mind.
On Monday, September 23, after having carried my four-year-old daughter to school and was on my way to conduct several counselling sessions for boys, I embarked on a No. 82 minibus plying the Waterhouse to Cross Roads route. Nothing strange was happening on the bus, as is the norm these days. There was reckless and dangerous driving, both the conductor and the driver were smoking spliffs, a slew of dancehall songs with expletives blurted from the speakers, and students from a prominent high school sang along in unison to the songs. Truth be told, while I was disgusted, I was not surprised until I heard these lyrics:
Monday mawnin dis is de plan,
Look ina yu knapsack, pen ina yu han,
Si dung an study fi di maths exam an stop fram tinkin bout play station
Pu dung di smokin yu nu big man, Wats 13% of 30 million
Wen skool ova nu stan up ina gang, gwaan home an study some long division
Mek sure seh yu gwaan a skool, Tek in yu education nu faam nu fool
No idlers mi nu av time fi yu
Listen wen de Teacha a talk, learn di golden rule!
Hey skool girl wat did jus wrong, yu ina uniform an a look bus man,
Memba seh nubadi ina ur family neva gu college, be di first one
Odd math, algebra, venn diagram, what is di capital of Westmoreland,
Spell pneumonia, tek a good guess nu man,
If yu nu kno yu doin someting wrong!
I was shocked and impressed as I listened to the rhymes, lyrical content and arrangement of the song. Sitting in the front passenger seat with a lady seated between myself and the driver, I immediately asked him, "Who is singing this song?" He smiled and responded, "A Teacha man, Vybz Kartel!" I was dumbfounded to know that this was coming from the mouth of the artiste who in my estimation has done significant damage with his negative influence on the mindset of our schoolers. Gaza Boss, who as stated earlier is known for his intense skin bleaching, wearing of closely fit clothes and sexual promiscuity, is singing quite the opposite. More impressive is the fact that the song is a message directly targeting those who make up a majority of his fan base, those attending school. In other sections of the song not highlighted here, he had strong messages for parents as well. I was so appreciative of this song that I said it to the driver and also revealed that I was a pastor. The female passenger sitting between us was shocked at the revelation, because the endorsement came from the lips of a clergyman.
I am sure the pundits will say that this is an effort by 'the Teacha' to paint a different picture of himself as he goes through his legal woes or simply that it is just another marketing strategy being employed by him while he is behind bars. While these arguments might be plausible, one cannot ignore the fact that the message is very positive and that it will create some positive impact.
As a pastor, guidance counsellor, and parent, I must applaud you, Mr Palmer, for voicing such a song. I do hope that other dancehall acts (especially Tommy Lee) will follow suit, recognising the strong influence they, too, have on our children. I do hope it is not far-fetched to ask you to now pen a song appealing to dons to put down their guns and leave underaged girls alone.
MoGAVA (Men of God Against
Violence and Abuse)