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Buju mends fences

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

REGGAE singer Buju Banton is back in Jamaica following the third leg of his Long Walk to Freedom tour in Trinidad's capital, Port of Spain, on Sunday.

Reports indicate the show was a success with thousands cramming the historic Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain's largest open space, for the concert dubbed I Am Legend. Some reports suggested the audience could have been even larger that the more than 30,000 which crammed into the National Stadium in St Andrew for the artiste's first concert on March 16.

The concert's second leg was in The Bahamas last month.

Buju Banton's stay in the twin-island republic, his first since 2009, was marred by a police raid on his room at the Hilton Trinidad on Saturday afternoon which drew widespread condemnation and prompted Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to visit the singer and apologise for the incident.

Griffith would join the singer onstage where the two sought to mend strained relations between Jamaica and Trinidad.

“Tell the people of Trinidad and Tobago that all is well and it ended well,” said the Grammy-winning artiste as Griffith stepped onto the massive stage inside the Savannah.

“Buju Banton, I will take a line from your song. How could you ever think? Trinidad and Tobago, don't ever doubt we're your friends,” Griffith said as they shook hands. “And from GG to BB, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica are allies forever,” he continued.

“You hear that? We're gonna make it better. The relations between the two nations must improve. It begins tonight. We pressing the reset button. You saw it,” Buju said, to cheers and applause.

Buju Banton performed a steady stream of his hit songs for close to two hours, closing just before the midnight close-off time.

The tour rolls into Barbados this Saturday for a performance at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown. From there it is on to Suriname on May 4, Grenada on May 11, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands on June 15, and St Kitts on June 29.

Following these Caribbean dates, Buju Banton will head to Europe. Among the stops are Cologne, Germany for Summer Jam; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Zurich, Switzerland at Jamaica Splash; Porto, Portugal; Vertheuil, France at Reggae Sun Ska; and Geel, Belgium.

Buju Banton will also headline Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay on July 20.

The singer was deported to Jamaica in December 2018, after serving an eight-year sentence in a US prison on drug-related charges. His Before the Dawn set won Best Reggae Album at the Grammy Awards in 2011.