2018 was one of the Best Year for Reggae – UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity and Buju’s Long Walk to Freedom

“Having survived. I want to share the good news and strength of my music. I just want to continue making music, which I’ve devoted my life to. I look forward to the opportunity to say personal thanks to my fans and everyone who supported me,” said Buju.

Buju Banton performance at Buju Banton & Friends concert / Bayfront Amphitheater Miami . Photo by Lyndon Johnson

Buju Banton during his performance at Buju Banton & Friends concert. January 16, 2011, Bayfront Amphitheater, Miami.                                   Photos by Lyndon Johnson / All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2018

Reggae fans were treated to two significant historical events that will be rewarding to the music and Jamaican tourism in 2019 and beyond.

The first occurred on Thursday, November 29th, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated reggae music an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.”

At the UNESCO presentation, Derek Scott, the spokesperson for the Jamaican Embassy in D.C said, “For us as a little country to have our music being recognized all over the world and now recognized by UNESCO – this is just awesome.”

“Yes, I think this will help with tourism.,” Scott continued. “Come to Jamaica. Visit the places where reggae music was originated.”

The second was the freedom and the return home of Mark Myrie popularly known as Buju Banton. Often referred to as the Gargamel, Banton returned to the land of his birth, when the reggae icon’s feet touched down on Jamaican soil late Friday night, December 7th after nearly a decade away.

Buju won the 53rd Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album titled, ‘Before The Dawn,’ on February 13, 2011, and was found guilty on conspiracy charges nine days later.

The Grammy-award winner was quoted on the Source website saying, “Having survived. I want to share the good news and strength of my music. I just want to continue making music, which I’ve devoted my life to. I look forward to the opportunity to say personal thanks to my fans and everyone who supported me.”

Tracey McGregor, manager and David Oscar Markus, Buju's lawyer photographed in the press tent at the end of Buju Banton & Friends concert. Jan 16, 2011. Photo by L. Johnson

Tracey McGregor, manager and David Oscar Markus, Buju’s lawyer inside the press tent spoke with the press after the Buju and Friends concert on Jan. 16, 2011.  CaribPress Photos by Lyndon Johnson.

In a recent interview with IrieFM.net, a former inmate and fellow Jamaican told IrieFM.net that Buju was an avid reader and saw him getting boxes of books time after time. He also told the Internet reggae radio station that Buju learned how to play the guitar while behind bars and had picked up some Spanish language skills as well.

Fans hopefully will soon get to see Buju’s newly acquired and self-taught skills in full force during his upcoming ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ tour.

Banton’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ tour is set to take-off on Saturday, March 16th, 2019 when he will perform a 90 minute set at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica with his 10-piece Shiloh Band. This is the same venue where Bob Marley’s legendary One Love peace concert was held on April 22, 1978, forty-one years earlier.

The ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ tour will then travel to other parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe.

The tour includes an appearance at Trinidad & Tobago’s ‘I Am Legend’ Concert which has been set for Sunday, April 21 at the Queen’s Park Savannah.

At present, the reggae icon is not permitted to perform in the United States.

Buju Banton last performance was held in 2011 during Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend on January 16, at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater in Miami to a sold-out crowd.

A photo collage with some of the artists who performed at Buju and Friends concert at Bayfront Amphitheater in Miami. January 16, 2011. Photos by L. Johnson. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2018

A photo collage with some of the artists who performed at Buju and Friends concert at Bayfront Amphitheater in Miami. January 16, 2011. Photos by L. Johnson. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2018

The concert was dubbed, ‘Buju Banton and Friends.’ The line-up had included some of his closest friends including: Stephen Marley, Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley, DJ Khaled, Busta Rhymes, Marcia Griffiths, Gramps Morgan, Gyptian, Everton Blender, Nadine Sutherland, Freddie McGregor, Tarrus Riley, Mykal Rose, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Spragga Benz and others were all there to show their support.

CaribPress saw in late hours of the night a very dark tinted shiny black SUV drive backstage escorting the artist to the venue. Mid-way into his performance Buju told his fans he met this woman when he was 18 years old and she said to him to be careful what he said in his music because it takes a life of its own.

The now freed Grammy-winning reggae legend then closed the show with a quote of the 23rd Psalms from the Bible:

“The Lord is my shepard, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.”

It’s a plea to the Almighty for his mercy.

Buju was then sent off to serve a10 year sentence at a federal prison in the United States. He was released early this month from the McRae Correctional Institute in Georgia after serving nearly eight years behind bars.

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