Buju Banton nostalgic at 50
As Buju Banton celebrates his 50th birthday surrounded by his close friends, family and musical collaborators, the Gargamel took time to reflect on his earlier life and the many struggles he had to overcome.
In a section of the courtyard at Markus Records in Kingston, where the celebration was held, the enigmatic artiste gathered a crowd around him to deliver anecdotes from his life.
"Through tribulation, I man father come inner-city Kingston, you know. (He) wasn't the brightest apple on the tree but he did his best. My mother was a higgler. I man sleep inna Constant Spring, Cross Roads and Downtown market ... every market, me and mi likkle sister; me used to carry ar go school."
Not stopping there, he beckoned his children forward express his gratitude for them and to Lorna Strachan, the mother of five of his children.
"Me have some great children, the Lord has blessed I. A we this," he said gesturing to the herd of people wearing near identical renderings of his face.
"We come through many tribulations, we love God, we nuh love nothing else. We have never mixed the iron with the clay. When we come out and tell you not to do these things, many a unu went averse. But know from a the days of mi youth, I've never led unu wrong. Neither is there any man in the crowd at my age of 50 can point a finger and say 'you have taken from me illicitly' or 'you have wronged me' or 'you are the cause of my demise'."
He continued, "The Lord bless me with the mother of my children them, Lorna, inna that time weh she understand me mission. She kept me clean, she made sure I'm fed, and she did everything possible for me, at 19-years-old for my music to live. We didn't have the drama."
Not limiting his prose to those that have immediate happy endings, Banton shared how he learned humility from having one outfit that he'd wash and wear daily.
"So pon my journey, I find myself out of school with one pair of shoes, weh me get from Kurt Riley, one yellow shirt and one green pants. Yard and a half (of fabric) weh me carry go up a Albert Street to a Rasta Man name Squitzo weh mi fada mek make some Khaki fi make a pants. I man used to be in I man underpants cause I wash my pants and wash my T-shirt everyday and I in my underpants til all two, three o clock. Look through me window and find me likkle friend a say 'Buju you nah come out', me say 'no man mi good' but them nuh know seh me clothes a dry."
Now Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, is an award-winning performer who boasts one of the most internationally recognised discographies in Jamaican music.
Before exiting his huddle that had soon start to resemble a prayer circle, the Gargamel shared a final message.
"I live a life of service to you people, and all people, especially Jamaican people. I may not be able to reach everyone because I'm not your elected official but those who I can reach, I do reach them."
Moments later he took the stage with the title track of his upcoming 14th studio album, 'Born For Greatness'.