It was one of those ‘Auntie’ days in New York. I was taking a break from Jamaica and just bonding with my mother, sister and her two beautiful children. I was baby-sitting Naseem, my cheeky five-year-old nephew, and Alaniya, my beautiful, teething niece.
Naseem and I just had one of our disciplinary confrontations, and in his tantrum, he told me to “Go back to Hamaica.” Alaniya earlier on barfed on my head, after an unwise move by me to throw her up in the air after I just fed her. I decided to take a break, smiling to myself at the thought that I had just been dissed by a kid who couldn’t even say ‘Jamaica’.
I had been away from home for a while, and decided to check in on the net for what was happening a yard. I scanned several headlines, checking in on the front pages, the sports, and lifestyle section. The one that grabbed my attention was Bounty Killer performing at the Festival Song Finals. I thought, “really”. That thought crossed my mind because the support and enthusiasm over the last several years for our festival songs, and our Independence celebration has waned significantly. I guess so many events have emerged, it appears as if we have been dismissing everything that revolves around our Independence celebrations.
Knowing the macho nature of most of our deejays, I was impressed by Bounty’s actions. This is the warlord we are talking about, “cross, angry miserable” who, we usually associate with high-profile dancehall shows. One of the most respected, yet controversial icons in the dancehall, then, and now, and he was doing the Song Finals. I am not invalidating this Festival tradition, but, if we are to be honest as a people, we have been treating this with disrespect and nonchalance for quite a while.
I returned to the Rock days later to catch the first studio performance, the first semi-finals of Rising Stars. I called several persons to tell them of my return. One was Sharon Burke, who told me to check her. I arranged a time, and after running some errands, made my way to Solid Agency. I caught a glimpse of the Killer when, I arrived, I recognised his profile. The shape of his head is something no-one can miss, I’ve been seeing his picture in the media for years.
I was in Sharon’s office when he came him. We exchanged polite greetings, but, I must admit, there was an extra spark to my smile. I told him I rated his involvement with the festival and how much I respected him even more. Sharon concurred. It’s not that I underrated Bounty, I’ve seen him on interviews, and respect him as a deep thinker. He is forthright and in your face, and his tongue can be razor sharp in disseminating his rivals but I was charmed and impressed by our ensuing conversation.
His reasons for doing the finals had my heart melting with his sincerity and earnesty. Bounty is a patriotic Jamaican who has concerns for our traditions and culture and who believes in giving back to the fine legacy of our Festival Song Competition. He went on to say how the Festival songs of the past have influenced some of our dancehall melodies. He feels strongly in infusing new energy and bringing it back to its former glory. That was his primary objective in doing the show.
I am not saying Bounty deserves a medal of honour or anything, but I was moved. Our conversation made me heady for several day, I found myself in an idealised dream state, thinking about the Independence celebra-tions, being something that we all would look forward to and hold sacred, as it represents us. I started having daydreams of people from all social strata singing and whining to our Festival song, knowing it line for line, dancing in giddy glee at its glorification of something about our country and culture. I am still holding that vision.
I don’t know if it is a figment of my imagination, but this Independence celebration seemed to have really built a hype. I was in a salon, when a twenty-something hottie said she was feeling some degree of excitement. Some older ladies joined in and agreed, they felt it was the best energy they felt in years, regarding our celebration. They added that they have been yearning for some of the past traditions, one even excitedly said she saw the Humming Bird from the upcoming float parade. Their nostalgia and recounts was infectious.
My mind went to my conversation with Bounty. I’ve been seeing some negative headlines about him recently. I am not here to defend him. I see Bounty only when we perform on a show where we are both billed. I am not a member of the Alliance, there is no ulterior motive in me giving the Killa some props. Sometimes, I believe he is unnecessarily demonised. He seems to accept this, and he handles it well. I can say one thing for this year’s Independence celebration, I am thanking him for giving me big vibes, for reigniting a nationalistic pride in my heart in our Independence celebration.
Look at all the youths who look up to the Killer. In the same way he impacted me, he can do this to many youths who probably don’t give a hoot about our traditions,. We need the energy of our youths to carry on our traditions.
Obviously, from all sections of our society, there are concerns for ourselves. Let us not be caught up in labels and stereotyping. We can all work together in bettering this nation. I know it is a clichÃƒÂ©, I often scoff, and moan at its repetition. but here goes: “Lets work together in unity.”
Hey, that’s also a line from my Festival song entry from back in the days. If you didn’t know, it’s called Hands and Hearts.