By Carolyn Cooper (Jamaica Gleaner)

If you think Buju Banton was contesting Bob Marley's 'greatness' at the launch of Rasta Got Soul you've settled for a distorted account of the event. In the mediated culture of the sound byte and the sensational headline it's all too easy to keep half-truths in circulation. Perhaps the issue is language. As Buju puts it so wittily, "Sometime I no like English; I rather Outlish. So I create I own word. I want to speak out and Outlish provide that avenue."

Here's a transcript of what outspoken Buju actually said, unfiltered by hype: "I want Jamaica and Jamaica music to be seen not on the pretext of some man who did something and died over 20 years ago. But on the pretext of living beings like myself who are working earnestly ... making my contribution as a living, breathing man. 'Cause if man cannot do what other men have done, in this time, we may as well die. You don't tell me that the greatest musician that Jamaica have is Bob Marley. I don't believe that. Jamaica still have greater musicians to come. He was one of the most promoted, the most promoted and well-promoted. And we have to appreciate that because is our culture. But don't kill our culture with one individual. Enough is enough."

Even Bob Marley would agree: "I tell you, one man a-walking/And a billion man a-sparking." That mystical little couplet from Marley's heartical Rasta Man Live Up! poetically expresses Bob's 'overstanding' that sparks of creativity fly from billions of people. Brilliance is not the exclusive property of a singular genius, treadding alone through creation. It is the sum total of the accumulated wisdom of a people, transmitted from one generation to the next. This conception of collective genius is especially true for Marley whose lyrics draw so deeply on Jamaican proverbs and biblical allusions.

What Buju appropriately asserted at the launch of Rasta Got Soul was his own sense of mission "in this time". Enough is enough. For one great man is not enough to fulfil all the dreams and aspirations of generations yet to come. We cannot foreclose greatness on the complacent assumption that "the greatest" has already come and gone. Read More



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