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Thursday 20 June 2019
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Grand release party planned for Buju in PoS

None in Jamaica but

Buju Banton performing at New York's Apollo theater during the 26th International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA)
Buju Banton performing at New York's Apollo theater during the 26th International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA)

The release of dancehall singer Mark Anthony Myrie, better known as Buju "Gargamel" Banton, will be marked today by the Reunification Massive Freedom Road Show.

The event, organised by High Frequency Entertainment, will celebrate Banton's release from the McRae Correctional Facility in Georgia, US. The reggae superstar, known for his hit songs such as I Wanna Be Loved, Champion, Driver, and Not an Easy Road, was found guilty of possession of a firearm and cocaine for trafficking in June 2011.

Jamaica media reported the singer had been released today.

The event, which is set to begin at 12 pm, will feature music from his work over the decades and will be a moving roadshow from Frederick Street, ending at Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook.

High Frequency Entertainment said, "In TT, a country that holds the artist close to its heart, with true fans across the length and breadth of both islands, a celebration has been planned."

However, there are no indications of any such plans being made in Jamaica. Almilcar Lewis of Backayard Magazine said the main event will be a concert in March 2019.

"The government of Jamaica looks at him as a convicted felon. There will not be any grand celebrations for his return, especially given the relationship between Jamaica and the US."

Lewis said he has not heard of any private groups or promoters organising any welcome-home events for Banton, even though many Jamaicans are excited that he will be returning. The timing of his return to Jamaica is uncertain, but he will probably arrive tonight or early tomorrow.

In an article in the UK Guardian UK, by Erin MacLeod and Kate Chappell, dated December 7, Jamaica’s culture minister, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, said Banton “is now really about, from what we understand, employment of young people. If he can help shape and resocialise young people, that is something we should embrace.”

Even though he showed indications of self-development by gaining a masters degree in music business management from the University of New York in 2016, Jamaican Minister of National Security Horace Chang was quoted as saying, “We can’t give him a hero’s welcome...he committed a crime.”

While Grange agreed with Chang's statements, she added, “There’s no getting over the fact that he was convicted, but Buju was loved long before he was convicted and he will be loved just the same, even if he comes home in handcuffs.”

Newsday made efforts to get comments from High Frequency Entertainment after Banton's release and information on the exact route of the roadshow, but was not successful.

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