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BUJU'S 45TH ... Gargamel celebrates birthday with intimate, star-studded party

Published:Wednesday | July 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle/Staff Reporter
Marcia Griffiths was present to celebrate with Buju Banon his first birthday since his release.

“In the dark places of human ignorance, it’s Thy hands that guide me. The light that light the pathway of desolation and lead I to a land of plenty. I have perceived thee from afar and the spirit within me yearns unto Thee, oh Almighty One. Soweth in me and urge me unto the goal; and I have not been misled because I was indeed guided and guarded on that long journey and thy presence has been made known to me. Therefore, I wake from that dream and re-enter into the house of my God, clothed in peace and robed in colours of light, knowing that the spirit of truth perpetually surrounds me.”

That was the prayer Buju Banton chanted as he opened the proceedings of his 45th birthday celebrations. Held at the AC Hotel by the Marriott in New Kingston on Monday night, the event marked the ‘Gargamel’s’ first birthday celebration as a free man, having spent the last nine birthdays behind bars. And, like he did at his first concert post-prison, Banton offered up praises to the Almighty.

Decked out in a white pants and a multicoloured shirt, the Gargamel oozed happiness as he greeted his specially invited guests inside the venue. Banton gave a short speech in which he tried to sum up exactly how he was feeling in that particular moment. With a smile on his face the entire duration, Banton reminisced on the days he would long for the freedom to be among his family and friends to celebrate his birthday. “I used to siddung many a night a look pan dis great moon and say to myself, ‘a when I a go come a road and hol’ a vibes among mi people dem, and see all mi pickney dem’ and the Lord make it possible so we give thanks,” he said.

Admitting that he was not one for birthday extravaganzas, Banton shared that his birthdays were usually low-key and that he loathed attempts at surprising him.

“I never really have a party in my life. My first birthday gift was a Rambo comb because my head was so bad. I’ll never forget. It was a big, black comb. Most people know if yuh have a Rambo comb, yuh have a good comb; it never break. Anyway, once upon a time, they attempted to give me a party and I crashed it because they were trying too hard to surprise me,” he said. “When mi deh a di hotel, mi ask for everybody and can’t find nobody. Lenky (his former band member), everybody a hide from me. Anyway, dem carry mi go inna one room and dem turn on the light and say surprise wid a big guitar pan a cake. I was mad as hell. I said, ‘Don’t surprise me like this again’.”

He continued: “I had some fun, but this one is different. I haven’t had another party since then and that was a long, long time ago. But this is more than a party. This is a coming together where we don’t just hold the mic and run from side to side and sing and yuh look forward to hearing yuh favourite song. This is much more intimate, where we have the time to talk and chill for a minute in a good setting,” he continued.

He had indicated beforehand that he did not want the fanfare or a spectacle. He simply wanted to enjoy the company of close family and friends, and that’s exactly the kind of evening he was granted. It was a star-studded affair with guests, including Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, former Minister of Culture Lisa Hanna, Grammy award-winning artiste Sean Paul, reggae singer Romain Virgo, Rory Stone Love and Jabba from Best of the Best.

But guests took off their celebrity hats as they danced, toasted, and feasted the night away with a man they had all grown to love. Two of his children, Abihail and Jahazeil, were present to soak up the moment with their father. Both were still children when Banton was incarcerated and so used the opportunity to bask in the joy his presence and the occasion brought.

Banton spent most of the evening in his private cabana, but the area was accessible to guests all night, many of whom took advantage of the opportunity to share lens with the musical icon. Clearly overjoyed and feeling the spirit of freedom, Banton danced up a storm throughout the night, alongside colleagues, including Mr Lexx, General B, and Ghost, who were among the VIP guests.