Retired Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson has given Buju Banton a resounding vote of confidence.
The former president of the People’s National Party recently told media reporters that the Reggae star, who given name is Mark Myrie, had committed the crime, served the time, and should now be encouraged to prepare for life afterward.
Buju Banton returned to Jamaica last December 7 after serving seven years of a 10-year and one-month sentence in a Georgia, USA prison for cocaine trafficking. The 45-year-old will be hosting his first major concert on March 16, which is a part of his controversially tour dubbed “Long Walk To Freedom.”
The name of the entertainer’s tour is reportedly a direct relation to the “title of South African great Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom published in December 1994, which highlighted, among other things, Mandela’s early life and his 27 years spent in prison on treason charges.”
PJ Patterson expressed dissimilar sentiments as to wether Buju Banton, as a convict, was being glorified by vast sections of the Jamaican landscape.
“It’s not a question of glorification. He was convicted of a crime, he served his time. He wants to pursue his career in music. People found his message both compelling and alluring. As he himself said It’s not An Easy Road, so he is gone through a difficult part of the road,” Patterson stated.
“Buju has paid his penalty; there is no reason to condemn him in advance of anything he would do in future life. Certainly, when one reads all the evidence of the case it’s very clear that he succumbed to an inducement that he should have avoided. I think he himself would recognise that,” he added.
Patterson believes that Jamaicans should give the reggae singer the space to reshape his life and career. This way, the artist can again become a positive influence on the Jamaican society.
“He is embarking on a resumption of his career and I think certainly all well-thinking Jamaicans would wish him well and would hope that he will carry a message that will help to inspire and uplift our people at this time,” Patterson suggested.
Buju Banton, who was held by United States Drug Enforcement Administration agents during a drug bust in Miami in December 2009, was charged with, among other things, conspiracy to distribute, and possession of more than five kilogrammes of cocaine. After a six-day trial in September 2010, the proceedings were declared a mistrial, as the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision.
During the retrial, the Jamaican entertainer was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilos of cocaine, possession of firearm, and using communication material to assist with a drug trafficking offence. He was freed of the gun possession charge after it was dropped by the prosecution.