One Parliamentarian is accusing some residents of “romanticising” the ongoing Buju Banton Long Walk to Freedom tour.
At the same time, Dr Sonia Browne has suggested that Buju, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie and Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley, should not be seen as role models.
Browne, who is the Chairman of Committees, made the comments on Tuesday in Parliament while adding to the debate on the amendment of the National Council on Substance Abuse Bill, which was later passed.
It was section two of Cap 46 that was amended by deleting the definition “Minister”.
“I don’t think we quite understand the seriousness of the drug use and abuse. Let me clear it by saying I am a fan of Buju Banton. I admire his music, but when we got a society that more or less romanticises a gentleman coming out of prison after spending a decade of incarceration on drug charges, when on his Long Walk to Freedom, I am not so sure from where, but when we can romanticise that and greet somebody like this at the airport and give them one of the biggest concerts . . . we need to change the perspective of our young people with respect to our heroes and heroines, we need to change the focus,” insisted Browne.
The highly-publicised and anticipated tour, which started in Kingston, Jamaica in March, came to Barbados on April 27, and is continuing with Buju performing in a number of other countries over coming months before climaxing with a cruise in April 2020.
Pointing out that she also “loves” reggae superstar Bob Marley, who was named Robert Nesta Marley at birth, Browne suggested that even if he used marijuana it would not affect him like it would affect others who looked up to him.
“Yes, there are the Bob Marleys of the world, and I love him too, but from the perspective of the young people, they use him as a prime example that marijuana does nothing. Not everybody can benefit from the clarity I assume he exhibited from marijuana use. Not many people can belt out the lyrics he did. In fact, the majority can’t,” she said.
“But we need to change the focus and move to different role models. We have a man like Mr Banton, that stepped out of prison and now I am sure he is a virtual millionaire. We need to change the focus of who we look up to for our young people,” insisted Browne.
At the same time, the trained family physician insisted there needed to be more public education on marijuana. She also acknowleded that anyone could go online and learn how to make various drugs which they then abuse.
“I agree substance abuse goes way beyond the usual cigarette smoking and alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. We see substance abuse everyday with respect to over-the-counter drugs,” she said.
“Now you can learn anything on the Internet, if you want to make drugs go [online],” she added.
However, Browne said she was happy that the Barbados Pharmacy Council was currently putting measures in place that would “move these drugs from the reach of the normal John Public”.
“We are taking steps to do that because they are dangerous . . . to children and adults and we have to remember that is a part of the substance abuse – prescription drugs,” said Browne.