Support local talent
THE EDITOR, Sir:
It is a crying shame that at the recent launch of Sting, I had to educate the crowd about a Jamaican who has represented our nation on the highest level throughout the world in boxing.
Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters is a storied fighter, having captured the WBA featherweight title in 2009, the vacant WBA world (Regular) featherweight title on December 8, 2012, and having gone on to defeat Nonito Donaire on October 18, 2014 by technical knockout, to capture the WBA World (Super) Featherweight Championship.
Axeman has a professional record of 25 bouts and 25 victories, with 21 knockouts, yet most Jamaicans would not, as was the case at the Sting launch, recognise him in a crowd.
This unfortunate occurrence reminded me of the long-standing battle of getting Jamaicans to support local enterprises, culture and products. The issue of lack of support does not begin or end with Nicholas Walters. In fact, the entertainment and cultural-enterprise industry has long suffered from this lack of local support. It is particularly sad, as these are the main tourist attractions within the Jamaican space, and are huge contributors to the country's gross domestic profit.
If these cultural and entertainment-industry products have such a massive impact on the economy, why is there not more being done to preserve and further develop these institutions and entities? I am urging Jamaicans to take heed of, and support, the call from the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment for the establishment of entertainment zones.
This should be looked at in tandem with unified activism for changes to the Noise Abatement Act to allow shows, parties and other ventures to be held without hassle and worry of being shut down after much investment has been made in the product.
We are a creative people. Clive Campbell, popularly known as DJ Kool Herc, was a Jamaican who migrated to the United States and brought dancehall music with him, which was heard and then adapted and redesigned into hip hop in the 1970s. Decades later, electronic dance music, which has now taken the world by storm, is a derived product of reggae, and more and more hip-hop and R&B artistes are sampling and using elements of our dancehall and reggae culture and music to enhance their own songs.
Why is it then that we can praise Kanye West and buy his album Yeezus, which featured Assassin, Beenie Man, Capleton and Sizzla, whether with vocals or through sampling, yet we find it so difficult to support our local talents? We must, as a people, come together and advocate for change.
The need for a proper performance arts or cultural centre is more than ever at the forefront of necessity. More and more young persons are venturing into the performing arts and cultural art forms such as music and even fashion design, and Jamaicans must recognise the potential of our talented youth before foreigners do and influence them to migrate to other places.
Strategic Adviser, Supreme Promotions
Director, MSE Group