St Philip North Member of Parliament Dr Sonia Browne. (Picture by Reco Moore)
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A GOVERNMENT BACKBENCHER has frowned on the “romanticising” of the recently held Buju Banton concert.
Speaking during debate on the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the House of Assembly yesterday, St Philip North Member of Parliament Dr Sonia Browne said the time had come for the perception of heroes and heroines to change.
The 45-year-old Jamaican reggae artiste staged his Long Walk To Freedom concert – part of a Caribbean tour – at Kensington Oval on April 27. His first show here in about ten years came after he had spent eight years in an American jail on drug charges.
“I don’t think we quite understand the seriousness of drug use and abuse. Let me clear it by saying I am a fan of Buju Banton; I admire his music,” Browne said.
“But when we got a society that more or less romanticises a gentleman coming out of prison after spending a decade of incarceration on drug charges; when on his long walk to freedom – I’m not too sure from where – but when we can romanticise that, and greet somebody like this at the airport and give them one of the biggest concerts.
“Let me say again I love his music, but we need to change the perspective of our young people with respect to our heroes
and heroines,” said Browne, who is also Chairman of Committees in the House.
“We’ve got to change the focus. Yes, there were the Bob Marleys of the world. I love him too, but the perspective of young people, they use him as an example that marijuana does nothing.
Not everybody can benefit from the clarity that I assume he exhibited from marijuana use. Not many people can belt out the lyrics that he did. In fact, the majority can’t, but we need to change the focus and move to different role models.”
Browne, a medical doctor, added: “We have a man like Mr Banton . . . that stepped out of prison and I’m sure is a virtual millionaire. We need to change the focus of who we look up to for young people.”
She also told the Lower House that alcohol abuse was “a big issue” which was often overlooked.
She said that “many families” had suffered, pay cheques were spent before people got home and it was a burden on the workforce.
“Sometimes I fail to understand . . . why, with this knowledge, with the pushing of NCSA, we sit down here and back them and everything, and yet we as ministers, or MPs, or candidates, are encouraged to go into the rum shops and buy drinks . . . for the fellas. It makes no sense.” (GBM)