As news surfaced that Reggae superstar Buju Banton was on his way to Jamaica after spending eight years in federal prison, the ‘hero’s rhetoric’ ignited a longing the island hadn’t experienced in years.
The day was Friday, December 7 and when the Jamaica Today team arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) the hub was abuzz with excitement as Jamaicans and tourists alike crowded the arrival bay – eager to get a glimpse of the musician.
They awaited the “Gargamel’ patiently, as the time neared to 7:30 p.m., so too, did the size of the crowd – now nearing people in the dozens.
Just outside the arrival bay, several of Buju Banton’s hits blared loudly from the speakers of a car and there was somewhat of a festive mood expressed by those who turned up to support the artiste.
By 8 pm, the anxiety increased and just twenty minutes later, a false alarm sent the welcoming party scampering blindly across the airport, unsure where the deported deejay was due to make a “silent entry” into his homeland.
Minutes later, at 8:23 pm, a fleet of Jamaica Constabulary motorcycles and buses strolled unassumingly into the NMIA – a sign that the crowd was swelling and different measures were about to be used to escort Banton out of the facility.
At 8:25, the anxiety threatened to burst the fragile stream of people now gathered, as an arriving passenger shared a photo she took of the musician – much to the delight of those still waiting for a rare sighting.
By 8:33, there were screams from several women as the crowd became restless, chanting “We wah Buju” in unison.
The fanfare died down ten minutes later, at 8:43, when security personnel explained “Him gone adreddy. Unno can go home now and let the passengers through”.
The widely anticipated first, heroic welcome from Jamaican fans was seemingly shunned by Banton, who was escorted quietly out of the airport.
By: Gavin Riley