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Prime Minister Bruce Golding, has instructed the Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, to set up a meeting this week to discuss the concerns and impact of the negative lyrics and images being portrayed through Jamaica’s music, in particular, dance hall music.
Mr. Golding was responding to an impassioned plea from dub poet, Mutabaruka, who in his address at a reception this evening (Feb 8) at Jamaica House to mark Reggae Month, called on Government to take immediate action to address the concerns of Jamaica’s dance hall music. Mutabaruka noted that the negative lyrics and explicit images being promoted through the music are eroding the values of the society and impacting negatively on the behaviour of young people.
Addressing the stakeholders in the music industry at the Reggae Month reception, Mr. Golding called for Minister Grange to set up a meeting no later than this week and he has requested that Mutabaruka be invited to participate in those discussions.
“We are going to have to find a way to deal with what is going on out there with the music. If we have to change the law, let us prepare the legislation and go to Parliament and change it. If it is going to call for some resources, we will have to find them. As tough as things are, let us find it because we can’t allow this assault on our music, on our psyche and identity as a people, to continue”, Mr. Golding said.
He called for an enforcement mechanism programme, noting that our music is too important to us to allow it to be compromised in any way. He said there would be some challenges because music in a sense has to be free and musicians have to be free to express themselves. “But if we work with the music industry and if we embrace the kind of leadership offered by Mutabaruka then we should set some parameters and be prepared to ostracise those who step beyond the boundaries of what is decent and uplifting”, Mr. Golding said.
“This country does not belong to us, we hold it in trust for the next generation and we must pass it on to them in a better shape than we got it. Those who have done so much to take our music to the heights it has reached, the promoters, the technicians, stage hands- we owe them a debt of gratitude. They have the power to change and to transform the society through music. As we play this music, we have to ensure that it is used to transform the society in a positive way”, the Prime Minister noted.
Mr. Golding commended Mutabaruka for speaking with such profundity, noting that even if he criticised the Government- it is well taken as he agreed that the Government needs to do more. “What is going on is not only undermining the value of Jamaica’s music but undermining the psyche of the people”, Mr. Golding said.