WHAT: Appeal to Archdeacon Phillip Isaacs, Pastors Winston Cuffie, Whitfield Lawrence and Terrence Baynes and other religious leaders to show Christian leadership in opposing music inciting murder and violence
WHY: Easter weekend performances by Buju Banton, Elephant Man, Sizzla, Kalonji and Vybz Kartel, whose music urges listeners to commit murder and other un-Christian and illegal acts of physical and sexual violence against homosexuals, women, police, white people and other groups
The Trinidad and Tobago Anti Violence Project (T & T AVP) has written the letter below to Christian leaders urging them to raise their voices against murder and violence as four Jamaican dancehall "DJs,"all of whom have been protested or banned worldwide for inciting murder and violence in their lyrics, are set to perform at venues in Tobago and Trinidad over the Easter weekend. Buju Banton is scheduled to perform at Pigeon Point Beach, Tobago on Glorious Saturday, April 7, and at Sting Night Club in La Romain, Trinidad on Easter Sunday,April 8, while Elephant Man, Sizzla, Kalonji and Vybz Kartel are slated to appear at the Hasley Crawford Stadium on Glorious Saturday. Two of the three venues are state-owned property. These performers are four of the most notorious and widely protested Jamaican singers of 'murder music'. While murder music is unacceptable at any time, the T & T AVP noted, it is particularly disturbing when performed in Trinidad & Tobago during Easter, a sacred time on the Christian calendar that traditionally symbolizes peace.
Calling the recent response by a handful of clerics to Sir Elton John's upcoming appearance at the Plymouth Jazz Festival in Tobago "hateful and hypocritical," a spokesperson for the T & T AVP noted that Christian leaders have been mum for years as Jamaican dancehall artists calling for people to murder and mutilate homosexuals and for men to sexually degrade and dominate women have performed repeatedly in Trinidad and Tobago. "It is not Christian leadership when you object to a performance, that has no sexual content, by someone who has shown sterling humanitarian service and raised millions of dollars in the fight against HIV and AIDS which benefits the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago," said spokesperson, Kerwyn Jordan, "but you turn a blind eye to the violence other foreign singers viciously promote on stage." Trinidad and Tobago is one of 30 countries benefiting under the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV and AIDS, supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The Caribbean has suffered from serious problems with growing violence in recent years. This development is mirrored in the growth of dancehall music that promotes extreme violence - known as 'murder music.' While the themes of murder music are wide ranging, the lyrics typically call for extremely violent acts against marginalized groups, including homosexuals. T & T AVP recognizes that this issue has ramifications beyond music and certain stigmatised groups. Exporting murder music poses a threat to the region's future.
"It is not Christian leadership when you object to a performance, that has no sexual content, by someone who has shown sterling humanitarian service and raised millions of dollars in the fight against HIV and AIDS which benefits the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago,"
"If we allow violence to infiltrate our societies, then we are down the slippery slope to chaos and anarchy," said another spokesperson,Jacquelyn Fields, a retired law enforcement officer. "If people tolerate calls for the brutal murder of fellow citizens, then we will become a Godless, lawless, hateful society. Trinidad and Tobago already has a serious problem with crime; we do not want to end up with one of the highest murder rates in the world," Fields added.
Toni Morrison, in her 1993 Nobel Prize address, said "Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it IS violence." Fields echoed this sentiment, concluding that, "the silence of these Christian leaders against such atrocities on the holiest weekend of the Christian calendar condones such violence."
(1) David D. K. Soomarie +1 868 497-6879
(2) Jacquelyn Fields +1 868 742-5753