Jah Cure - Contributed
By Andre Jebbinson/ Jonique Gaynor, Staff Reporters
As of July 29, Siccaturie 'Jah Cure' Alcock will no longer be visioning spaces behind prison walls. Instead, having done his paces and time, he will be released on parole for the rape he was convicted of in 1997.
Though he has become accustomed to sharing his music from behind bars, he will soon be able to perform in front of a live audience at the three-day festival, Curefest, being planned in his honour.
But while Alcock's fans are waiting with bated breath for his release and the upcoming concert, not everyone shares the joy.
The festival will take place August 24-26 at a venue to be determined, and while the promoters are optimistic that the festival will be a success, there are mixed reactions among the public. Some see Cure's promotion as the glorification of a convicted rapist and there have been reports that billboards promoting the event have been taken down in Kingston and Montego Bay.
One concerned citizen wrote to THE STAR commending the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) for removing one such billboard from the corner of Constant Spring and Red Hills roads.
"I believe that we should all support Mr. Alcock and all paroled and freed prisoners on their reintegration as productive members of society; but I suggest that we strenuously reject using public facilities to promote an incarcerated rapist," the writer said.
So far, two billboards have been taken down. Delmar Drummond, head of Danger Promotions and promoter of Curefest, said he was aware that the billboard in Montego Bay was removed by the St. James Parish Council.
"This is due to a miscommunication between the parish council and the National Works Agency as to the time frame allowed for the billboards to be posted. We are waiting for word from the NWA as to when we will be able to put them back up," Drummond said.
The promoters claim the billboard at the corner of Constant Spring and Red Hills roads was taken down because it was damaged, though they are not sure whether the damage was malicious or caused by nature. They are confident, however, that all the procedures were followed. "We have contacted them and made all necessary payments and filed the paperwork to have the posters put up. These procedures were followed prior to putting up the posters," he said.
It seems the KSAC has been wrongly praised for removing the billboard. However, as Mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie told THE STAR, the organisation does not physically remove billboards. He admitted, however, that if the sign was found to be in breach of the regulations, the matter would be passed on to the National Solid Waste Management Agency (NSWMA).
The mayor admitted that he received two calls about the billboard but said, "I explained to the caller that we don't monitor content and that was when I asked [staff'] to find out if an application [for the billboard] had been made."
When contacted, a representative from the NSWMA's Enforcement Department said they were not responsible for taking down the ad as they had not done any removals for the last few months.
The promoters, however, are not discouraged by the 'billboard fiasco' and said several other mediums including car stickers, websites and television and radio, were being used. Several of the Cure's fans have also been unaffected and said they still intend to go to the concert. Bartlett Morgan, a 23-year-old multimedia designer, told THE STAR, "If he is paroled, that means he has served his time and is no longer a criminal. He has paid society his dues - just like Pratt and Lynch - as long as they have done the time, they are free citizens. I think the problem with our society as it regards ex-convicts is that we seem to put this 'once a criminal, always a criminal' label on them. So even if they are well intentioned and want to contribute to society, our mindsets and actions keep them from doing so."
While the promoters are tight-lipped about the local and international artistes on the show, it will be Jah Cure's celebration of life and music. "Jah Cure’s mission is to cure the world through music. The festival will showcase positive cultural, dancehall and international artistes, bringing a higher level of consciousness to Jamaica over the course of 3 days," Drummond said.
Attempts to secure an interview with Jah Cure, were unsuccesful, but Cure's mother, Panseta Campbell, told THE STAR, " I am so happy he is coming home but I am a little scared because of the crowd and all the news people that will be there." About the fight to keep his billboards off the street, she said, "I feel bad because him do im time an a come out. You have to learn in life though not everybody will like you. Don't watch dem. Give him a break, im deserve it."