Guyana President: 'Don't let violent music overtake Caribbean culture'

Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali
Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali

GUYANA President Dr Irfaan Ali said on Sunday that Caribbean music should not be hijacked by artistes with anti-social messages but must be the music of upliftment.

He was addressing the opening of the 46th regular meeting of Caricom heads in Georgetown, Guyana.

“Sometimes, as a region, we are in tough positions and we have to take tough measures but always the region’s toughness is always in the interest of the region’s people.”

He said culture was the region’s staple, as guests surely felt a need to move with the drumming showcased minutes before.

“We in Guyana have taken a conscious decision in ensuring we invest in culture as a tool and a mechanism of unifying our people and as a tool and mechanism of telling the story of who we are as a people.”

Ali said regional culture was unique and must be preserved for future generations.

“We do not need lyrics that promote violence in this region.

“We have the ability to promote good lyrics and lyrics that will move people in the positive direction and move people to think, act and behave positively.

“As leaders of this region, we have to take this situation very seriously and ensure the lyrics of the region are the lyrics of Bob Marley, the lyrics of positivity and the lyrics of positive living and positive change. We must take this responsibility on today.”

Ali said this was a fundamental issue.

He related an earlier conversation with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley when many people had queried Guyana disallowing entry to a certain artiste.

“That artiste is on an Interpol red list.

“We cannot allow our culture to be captured in this narrative.”

He said regional culture must be re-positioned in the way it was conceived, that is, for positive living and upliftment.

“This is not about anyone or against anyone. This is for our region and for the future of the young people in this region.

While Ali did not call names, in June 2022, Guyana banned public performances by Jamaican dancehall artiste Kevon “Skeng” Douglas. Otherwise, Ali said he had seen criticisms of Caricom leaders’ travels but said they work tirelessly for their people.

“Every day, you have to go out and fight for attention for the region.

“You can’t do it sitting at home.”

Ali said the heads had spent Sunday morning talking about the crisis in Haiti, which now needs peace, security and good governance.

Also speaking during the opening ceremony, outgoing Caricom chairman Roosevelt Skerrit called for urgent action to help Haiti.

“I have full faith that the Caribbean spirit of unity and determination will continue to guide us. We have the talent, the resources and the collective will to overcome any obstacle.”

He urged all Caricom members to continue to work together, hand in hand, to build a brighter future for the Caribbean.

“A future where every country thrives and every voice is heard. And in this regard, my dear friends, lest we forget Haiti, a sister country of the Caribbean Community.

“Haiti needs the support of everyone in this world, every country in this world. “I do not believe we have the time or the luxury of time to continue talking about helping Haiti. We need to help Haiti yesterday. May God bless our efforts.”

Earlier, Skerrit fondly recalled how Caricom had facilitated talks between Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro and Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali over the Essequibo region last year in St Vincent and the Grenadines, saying the success was a template for other areas of the world.

Those present included Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland, Saudi Arabia Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir, and officials from the US, UK, UN, Canada, Ghana and Lesotho.


"Guyana President: ‘Don’t let violent music overtake Caribbean culture’"

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