The Defrocking of Saint Buju

Buju Banton was found guilty today of three cocaine conspiracy charges! Not surprisingly, the fervour with which my fellow Jamaicans follow this event has severely dwindled between the first trial five months ago and this retrial. It would have perhaps been even more ignored had Buju Banton (officially Mark Myrie) not won the Grammy award for Best Reggae Album. I found Before the Dawn, for which Myrie won the Grammy, to be a very good work of art.

Buju Banton mug shot The Defrocking of Saint Buju

Buju Banton, formally Mark Myrie (Mug Shot)

The general consensus among Jamaicans, from every nook and cranny, is that Buju Banton is innocent. Most of my countrymen who have expressed their views to me on the matter have blindly defended him as innocent – even people I usually regard as well-thinking have disappointed me with their stiff-necked refusal to acknowledge that Buju is not exactly the best role model.

While I sympathize with him to some extent due to the fact that this case is founded upon entrapment1, perhaps based on that fact his sentence will be lightened, I do not take kindly to anyone who would willfully involve him or herself in the cocaine trade at any level. I was further disappointed when it was revealed, on tape, that he suggested the smuggling of diamonds from Africa. This is supposed to be a man with a great level of black consciousness and who possibly would have on occasion lain blame upon the shoulders of the ‘white man’ for ruining Africa and exploiting Africans. I will not get into the details of the diamond trade but it is the cause of many conflicts in the motherland2.

Many of you do not share my opinion but it is only my opinion and I reserve the right to change my mind and I facilitate you sharing yours by enabling comments. Buju Banton is a great musician but Mark Myrie is a human being – fallible. He is very guilty of the bravado that is common to [Jamaican] men, as he admitted in his testimony and it led him to committing serious crimes.

teethy 1024x768 The Defrocking of Saint Buju

A random shot of my cousin Marlon aka Teethy3.

I am a firm believer in encouraging people to accept themselves and each other. I believe we need to establish a more embracing culture – embrace our language, varied lifestyles, skin tones and preferences, embrace our neighbor and appreciate the differences. When we learn to accept ourselves we can accept each other and when we do, we will be in a better position to withstand the temptation of dealing in drugs, or doing anything else we know is wrong or will hurt our fellow man, because we want to seem ‘cool’.

“This is who I am and this is what I stand for… I do not condemn you for your beliefs or preferences but I will not involve myself in your doings because I believe they are wrong. I will not try to impose my beliefs upon you, however.”

I am really disappointed that Mark Myrie isn’t the personification of Buju Banton’s beautiful poetry but life is like that… Just walk good, my dear friends, and try to figure out what you stand for. Me turn me back4.

  1. constituted by a law enforcement agent inducing a person to commit an offense []
  2. []
  3. Marlon's, my cousin displayed in the photo above, late mother would never part company by saying she is 'gone'. She'd always say she has turned her back as 'when yuh gone yuh dead'. I know it's quite unrelated but I remember her tonight. []
  4. Marlon’s, my cousin displayed in the photo above, late mother would never part company by saying she is ‘gone’. She’d always say she has turned her back as ‘when yuh gone yuh dead’. I know it’s quite unrelated but I remember her tonight. []
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  1. Posted February 22, 2011 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    This is a very thoughtful commentary. Thank you.

  2. Posted February 22, 2011 at 9:16 PM | Permalink

    I enjoyed your comments. Hopefully Jamaicans can really learn from this experience and as you said, accept themselves – I am afraid Buju is going to learn his lesson the hard way. And his pious lyrics do not match up to his behavior. He was a loud-mouth, and his fame and influence led him to believe that he was, in fact, the coolest man on the planet who could chat about cocaine and diamonds and stuff and everything’s fine, dude. Not very righteous after all. Poor Buju. (PS I didn’t know he had a house and family in Miami?)

  3. Posted February 22, 2011 at 9:18 PM | Permalink

    PS Teethy is a handsome fellow. Say hi to him from me!

  4. David Mullings
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

    Excellent post and solid reasoning. The blood diamonds boast hurt me the most as a Buju fan especially be he is supposed to be a rasta. It is also unfortunate that so many Jamaicans really are ignoring Buju’s actions caught on video and his own words. These are not things you joke about to impress anyone except people involved in such things.

    I am not sure if “acceptance” is the right concept but agree that Jamaica needs to certainly increase “tolerance” in order to progress.

  5. G
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

    I never thought he was innocent…lol.
    Im pretty sure i heard on the radio a year ago that; he said the reason he did it was to provide food for his kids or it was a movie deal or some rubbish (not saying providing food for your kids is bad :-p), just saying i never bought that argument.

    Buju’s mansion off Red Hills rd., looks pretty decent…., and it was raided by the cops for ganja or something when i was in high school. So was he doing drugs….. yea i think so

    Will anyone learn a lesson from this,.. some ppl might. But overall, no…
    Lets hear the views of the people tomorrow on ‘What a Gwaan’

  6. Posted February 22, 2011 at 10:48 PM | Permalink

    I think drug charges are generally overly harsh. If a fools wants to drugs I’m not sure the government should be dictating they can’t. But that doesn’t matter Buju knew it was illegal took his chance and got caught, damn shame he was among my favorite Jamaican musicians.

  7. Posted February 23, 2011 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    Well said. The bravado you mentioned I feel is definately a manifestation of the same insecurities that cause us, as a people, to to devalue ourselves and neglect our culture and history.

    Buju should never have gotten mixed up in something like this and I will not vouch for his innocence (as fickle as the case they seem to have on him is). “If it nuh go so, it near go suh”.

  8. Posted February 23, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    Very introspective commentary on the Buju situation. I’m glad that you’ve shared this opinion to show others that not all Jamaicans believe in this massive conspiracy theory that Buju has been set-up by members of the homosexual community in North America.

    We on the outside may never have all the facts – the only people who will (for certain) are Buju and those involved…so like Craole said above, I can’t vouch for his innocence – but if it nuh go suh, it near go suh.

    I too share your disappointment regarding the mere mention of blood diamonds. I thought Buju was a Black Champion, one of the motherland’s biggest supporters and lovers…Blood diamonds are the fruit of rape, murder and all manners of evil against Africa and her children. Could never ever condone something like that. This was perhaps the biggest disappointment for me in the whole debacle.

    And, to echo the words of a lawyer, not associated with this case but commenting on it, “Be careful what you say in public – whether you’re joking or not, it can always come back to land you in a hole.”

    Again, brilliant post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  9. PJ
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    Buju is no saint and it mere shows that through technology everyone in the world is exposed and there is really no such thing as having a private life anymore…maybe this is a build up to the creation of super governments that have scant regard for the individual once there is a breech or potential breech of a law or statute…cock mouth kill cock is the old Jamaican saying….the whole story is so unfortunate for Jamaica…

  10. Posted February 23, 2011 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

    You want to know the true nature of man, give him massive amounts of money. Money will expose man’s character, everytime.

  11. Biggz
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    PJ we have never had a private life. From the inception the higher authorities have been able, and are monitoring or internet browsing and intercepting telecoms transmission that travel over the wire. Nothing is a secret. Buju aught not to have gotten him self mixed up with those kinda things and even if he is innocent he is certainly guilty of being his own demise.

  12. sha
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 3:36 PM | Permalink

    As NickMack said “if it nuh go suh, it near go suh” how can we say he is innocent when we don’t have facts to back up our claim? Not because we may look up to someone, simple mean that he is not capable of wrongdoings. We are all imperfect human. It is possible that it is not his first time, but his first time been caught. His fans and supporters are all sympathize for him, and his reputation, but the emphasis should be on Jamaica reputation instead. I want to feel confident to say “I am Jamaican and I’m proud” I hope he learn his lesson well

  13. David
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 5:42 AM | Permalink

    Still proud to be Jamaican though now even more tainted by the case and situations surrounding it. This is a matter from which we should all draw lessons. Solid reasoning!

  14. Smith Smitty
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    I was a bit reluctant to read articles pertaining to BUJU for one: All that I have read so far was just typical, two: I am not a big fan of his and three: his music promotes violence and discrimination (yes i will use one particular song to judge is work because I don’t listen to his materials).

    This article is insightful and shows a different opinion from the others.

    Thanks much


  15. wizzart
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    u are right in Ur sentiments that many of us are in denial in accepting that he made some lethal mistake and is now paying the price. excellent well thought out. one of Ur best piece yet.

  16. mrs heights
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Well said… buju is no saint….And I see you have teethy from smithville..i know him from there. Grandma live or use to live a over road…

    • Karee
      Posted February 25, 2011 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

      It is indeed a small world. I’d never have expected that someone would recognize him! I don’t have to ask if you knew his mom. My mom is also from Over Road… very likely that you’ve met her.

      • Smith Smitty
        Posted February 26, 2011 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

        “Over Road”?????????!!!

  17. lizburt
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    This case just goes to show that most of our reggae artist are only creative and sensible on stage.This is a great lesson piece for jamaican entertainers who think they are little gods.Pity lots of us don\t realise that this drug trade is so complexed and large and the players come from musicians,sportsmen and person we would never dream would be involved.Thanks to uncle sam for helping to expose our sick nation.

  18. Annie
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

    “Ye that hath no sin, cast the first stone…. Pointing out someone’s flaw does not make you better than him. A flaw is a flaw is a flaw…. Who is flawless??? Let us motivate, encourage rather than waste time pointing out the obvious. Forgive and hope for the best. The man has a family and all that is being said also impacts their lives too. What impression do you want them to have of us. That we are all negative and hater – no!! Give them your support – we are all human – is he really the worst thing that has every happened to Jamaica. I know there have been far worst, but it was not dissected and critiqued so badly. Buju and family I give to you my prayers.

    • Smith Smitty
      Posted February 26, 2011 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

      Well, to each his own, uh? Opinions are meant to be shared and opposed by others. Therefore he has shared his views on a number of topics and controversial issues and we can criticize him if we wish and on the note of ‘is he really the worst thing that has every happened to Jamaica?’…..He is not the worst but HE IS ONE OF THE WORST!!!! I am not a fan of him and his work and he and his music as perpetuated others to crucify other minority groups and has led the on going battle of violence with him lyrics…..He is def. not the voice of Jamaica as many others have said…He may speak for you but he does not speak for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!…..I have sin!!!! He has sin!!!! The world is sinful!!!! He SHOULD BE PUNISHED ACCORDINGLY!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Biggz
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    What has made things worse is that another j’can who was there covering buju’s case was arrested for shop lifting, which now has drawn another line in the painting that person’s overseas have of us.

  20. Mr North
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    Well said!– Understanding that everyone has his or her own cross to bear I will refrain from passing judgement- but I will say this– I was very offended when I heard the theme for Buju’s character witnessess which was “He is the voice of Jamaica” spoken by Stephen Marley, Gramps Morgan and others – Though he is in fact one of the many voices of Jamaica – not all Jamaicans speak the same language- if you catch my drift– your point on separating the person from the artist is so true—- Thanks for the time– and please watch the video I posted below- it lends a sweet taste in these bitter ages

  21. Posted February 26, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    Thank you. Thank you. So refreshing to read something other than “Free Buju” tidal wave of nonsense. Also great job in separating the artist and his amazing body of work from the man who had choices.

  22. Posted February 26, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    Really good post Karee! i had skimmed it hastily when it first came out but just read it again. The blood diamonds–glad you highlighted them. People need to be more critical. Tune into Newstalk 93 Sunday at 12.10 pm for a discussion on Buju’s guilty verdict with me and Yvette Rowe on Double Standards…

  23. Posted February 26, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    I 100% agree with the fact that the support has feel off for Buju… I agree and keep saying that a sin is a sin and none out ways the next.I don’t think that Buju’s hands were 100% clean but I DO NOT think that the punishment fits the crime.. This is such a touchy case that with certain people or friends it’s hard to agree to disagree…

    Real talk * I reserve the right to change my mind and I facilitate you sharing yours by enabling comments*

    I have to start using that… Love it !!!! Keep up the good work..

  24. Peres Dixon
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    Well written commentary,I agree with everything you said and share the same sentiments. He really disappointed me,I thought he was above this sort of stuff,but I was wrong.He made his bed I hope he is prepared to lay in it.

  25. Justice Yap Chang
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    As a officer of the Court in England & Wales, I am deeply concerned with the legal immplications of fellow Jamaicans in this country regarding Mr.Banton’s on-going saga. When high profile celebrites meet with tragic self inflicted misfortunes of life, these individuals dont seem to understand that it affects us ALL as Jamaicans. Years ago, when Air Jamaica use to fly into Miami, the airline was dubbed the GANJA carrier of the caribbean, hence when Jamaicans disembarked there, they were scruntized very thoroughly before entering into the US. I am by no means a perfect person but I certainly dont go around making or attempting to make deals with persons known or unknown concerning the distribution of drugs, that is just plain stupidity. I have heard from various avenues, that Mr.Banton was set up by persons known or unknown. How do they know that Mr.Banton was set up? If these person or persons knew, why didnt Mr.Banton know as well, when he was the individual involved? I will agree on one fact, WE ALL need prayers.

  26. annonymous
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 7:21 PM | Permalink

    I really don’t understand this dudes reasoning. Where is his sense of patriotism for his fellow Jamaican. We jamaican living outside Jamaica are constantly victimized, labeled and scrutinized. Most of it is totally unwarranted and unjustified. I would not be surprised if buju was framed or conspired against. Nobody knows exactly what transpired. Be careful before you start to pile on your fellow jamaican. Even if you think buju is guilty share these thoughs only with your fellow jamaicans and not with the entire world. In the eyes of the rest of the world one bad jamaican means all bad jamaicans.

    • Karee
      Posted February 26, 2011 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

      I refuse to live in denial, my dear. Jamaica is much bigger than Buju Banton and if I decide to share the views I have of him I am entirely entitled to do so. Patriotism doesn’t mean I cannot acknowledge that my countryman erred. He admitted to talking the talk and that is what he was convicted of, he never denied a word said – he only justified ‘why’. I do not speak for anyone but myself and I thank you for your opinion. I prefer to base my life on what I see and know than to invent conspiracy theories; I am not piling on Buju. Continue being your own person and think outside the labels, let Buju be Buju and you be you.
      P.S. I am a woman.

  27. Pat Condell
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

    Interesting read, on point in so many ways. The bravado is real – i grew up around many men who perhaps only by God’s grace did not end up as Buju has. Hard lesson to learn to “kibba yuh mout.” But let us be careful that we not continue to make saints of mere men. Luciano is in his own hot water – Jah messenjah mell wid di wrong people too. We have all heard the rumours of how much of Jamaica’s music industry is built on drug money. As patrons, fans, admirers – do we play a part in the unfortunate mess? do we have a responsibility?

  28. nixx
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 7:11 AM | Permalink

    finally!!! someone with some sense! i thank you for this commentary. and guess what, Buju has never been a saint, believe me. And this is going to have a lot of implications for Jamaican travelers believe it or not. I will never forget when the whole dudus extradition request was occuring, coming from Miami police and immigration officers lined the little passage while we were boarding asking each person “how much money are you carrying back to Jamaica” and other questions, never before in all my years going back and forth has this happened.
    Believe what you will, but americans are a wary, scared bunch of individuals, who now have access to your phone conversations, txt messages etc, thanks to the government.

  29. Emalekewmep
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

    If we openly declare what is wrong with us, what is our deepest need, then perhaps the death and despair will by degrees disappear.

  30. The Dove
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    Buju, must learn not to praise Jah in public then deny him in private Even talking about dealing/buying/cocaine/crack should not have been uttered from his mouth. Everyone who deals with and sows this bitter crop eventually reaps suffering, it hurts people, it destroys communities and ruins lives.

    Why is is that Buju was drawn to this drug when his faith and righteous lifestyle should steer him well clear of it? Why is is that in front of millions, it is Buju who looks like the heathen (someone lacking in morals and principles)? Why is it that Buju condemned and rebuked gays and now finds himself surrounded by men?

    Buju God gave you the gift of voice and a platform to speak to people, and in the tininess of your cell it is God that has arrested you, so you can hear his voice that you should “do unto others” and also that “what you judge you will one day become” when all is silent, you can think about how you have helped to cause your own suffering, how you lost your way and more importantly how you will find a new direction.

    Buju you are a great artist and no one is perfect, I pray that you find peace, get out of jail, with a brand new faith and release the best album of your life!!

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