In Caribbean news. Growing up in the Caribbean in the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s was for many Caribbean nationals a valuable and indeed memorable experience.
The values imposed on us at home, at school, in church and generally in the community and wider society were ones that have guided the growth and development of many boys and girls to become respectable members of Caribbean society.
It would appear that come the late 90’s something terrible and irreversible happened that has captured the hearts and minds and in some cases, the soul of Caribbean young people. This destructive phenomenon that has waged havoc across the Caribbean on our future leaders is none other than Dancehall Music.
This writer remembers when he heard his first dancehall track in 1984, something by entertainer Yellowman. Then there were renditions from Mitchigan and Smiley, Buju Bantan, Beenie Man, Shaba Ranks and so on; all Jamaican artistes.
Growing up in the islands and hearing those songs at the time was interesting as they represented the birth of a new genre of music that had a certain melodic appeal accompanied by rhythmic tantalizing dances that were virtually impossible to resist. It was a time of great anticipation and hope for yet another Caribbean music creation to hit the world stage.
Demonstrations of these dances took place on the street corners of Georgetown Guyana and called Blocko’s. These Blocko’s were a popular public party that usually blocked off an entire street with huge sound systems boasting 6, 8 and even 12 large speakers affectionately called, ‘Young Fridges’.
Food and drinks vendors delighted at these ‘Road block’ parties that usually went till wee hours of the morning, selling a variety of local delicacies, cigarettes and so on.
Though this activity was extremely popular and widely supported by the establishment, as permission was granted for these gathering, there were no children or minors to be seen. Somehow parents by some telepathic power knew when these events were planned and cleverly scheduled house work or other assignments for the children to attend to.
Fast forward 15 years and I dare say the situation is so bad it’s disgraceful. Needless to say these Blocko’s are activities consigned to the past as a result of the many criminal activities and wanton acts befitting of uncivilized societies.
Dancehall as an art-form has grown to become an industry in itself without regulation and as such promotes lyrics vilifying homosexuals, disrespecting women, glorifying violence and more.
The advent of the mobile phone and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+ to name a few) facilities that weren’t around in the early 80’s, has placed this growing scourge smack dab in the palms of young adults and children.
Dancehall as a Jamaican export is sadly not one that has brought much pride to the wider Caribbean as Reggae did many years before it. The many videos permeating the internet displaying young women engaging in reckless dance acts many of which with heavy sexual overtones, leave much to be desired.
What is particularly disturbing is the grip Dancehall has on many children across the Caribbean and the relative ignorance or failure of parents to wrest their children away from the inevitable corruption and contamination of their impressionable minds.
The question must be asked, ‘What are our leaders doing to safeguard and protect the minds of our future leaders?’ What is the media doing to curb this seemingly uncontrollable menace in light of the growing popularity of artistes such as Vybz Kartel (on remand for murder); Buju Banton (incarcerated for drug trafficking) Elephant Man up on rape charges and others?
What are our teachers, community leaders and more importantly, the parents of these young children doing? Something needs to be done and very soon to curb this growing trend of destruction Dancehall music as an art form seems to be on.
We must act and act now if we are to secure a sound and safe future for the Caribbean region, a region that has been credited with international scholars, world renowned politicians, Noble Prize Winners, World class athletes, World class businessmen and women.