Buju has paid his debt to society

December 10, 2018
Buju Banton greets a few of his fans outside his Gargamel Recording Studio off Red Hills Road in St Andrew last Friday night after returning to the island.


Reggae icon Buju Banton was released from the McRae Correctional Institution in Georgia in the United States of America. On June 23, 2011, Banton was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was convicted of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it, along with a further drug trafficking offence and a gun charge. Federal prosecutors agreed to drop the firearms charge levelled against him and in turn Buju would waive his right to an appeal. After being away from his family and fans, he was finally released on December 7.

Mi know most people who saw the first images of Buju on the tarmac exiting the vehicle to board the flight to come home, cried tears of joy. It was a sight to behold, the tall strapping man with his locks in tact making that walk to freedom. A man who has left an indelible mark in the reggae and dancehall industries and the world at large. Gargamel finally reach back a yaad!

Though many waited with bated breath and high anticipation, there are many who believe that the grand welcome home for Buju needs to be balanced with the warning and reality of why he was locked up in the first place and the dire consequences of what can happen when mixed up in drug running. I heard a man on a nightly radio programme lamenting that Buju ought not to receive a King's welcome because he was locked up and charged for dealing in cocaine, and a Rastaman and established artiste like Buju should never have been involved in those activities.

The man went on to say: "If a did some weed him hear seh him a sell him wouldn't feel so bad". Some persons have bashed the Government for not rolling out the red carpet and having a Gargamel Gala but support and praise has also come in for the Government as some believe such a "welcome home party" may send the wrong message to youngsters, the society and the world at large that such actions are OK, once you are a reggae superstar.




Some all a seh why not keep a welcome home party for every deportee who get "dip" for cocaine charges and why not call for the freedom of other drug dealers?! The people dem a talk di tingz dem!

The narrative must be balanced from the point of view that we are all human beings and we all fall short of the grace of God. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. The system convicted Buju of a crime and he has done his time.

He has paid his debt to society and so deserves a chance at redemption. Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. The important thing is that the lesson is learned and never repeated. Buju also has a responsibility to his fans, especially those young and vulnerable to, whether in song or speech, speak about his ordeal so it may act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about going down that path.

The disappointment that many may feel is understandable, especially with the release of the 'tasting' video. However, it is necessary to have room for forgiveness and second chances in our hearts. It must have been a lonely, gruelling, and desolate place to be in and I don't think he should be punished in prison and punished when free. For all that he has done him deserve a second chance to prove himself and be the best that he can be.

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