Buju returns like a Champion

Observer writer

Monday, March 18, 2019

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Buju Banton returned to the stage in a moment fit for the ages last Saturday evening at the National Stadium in Kingston. After an almost ten-year hiatus, patrons dug deep to pay big bucks for the monumental experience.

Elle Johnson, a patron at the event, said she spent over US$1,200 just to show up for the concert.

“I've been planning to be here since October but the tickets sold out in five minutes and the website crashed so I had to wake up at 3:00 am in the morning to buy my tickets. This whole experience was definitely worth the money,” Johnson told the Jamaica Observer.

Traffic blocked roads leading to the National Stadium as thousands eagerly made their way to the highly-anticipated Long Walk To Freedom Concert. Shuttle buses took patrons from roads leading to the venue to its gates.

Minutes after 11:00 pm, emcee Elise Kelly welcomed 'The Gargamel' to the stage. He appeared clad in full white while fans screamed and tried to capture the moment on their cellphones.

The white light that beamed around the singjay coupled with his opening prayer (singing) “Have mercy on me” made it a truly celestial moment.

Buju Banton wasted no time to deliver the long-awaited performance; prancing across the stage, he thrilled fans with his powerful vocals. Songs such as Not an Easy Road, Hills and Valleys, and Destiny had members of the audience in tears as the singer enticed their ears and hearts.

Though there were a few technical glitches at the beginning of his performance, once those were amended it was as if Buju Banton had not been away. In an almost two-hour performance, he delivered a number of songs including the dancehall hits Champion, Too Bad, Me & Ounu, and Waistline. It was pandemonium when he belted hits such as Driver A and Wanna Be Loved.

By this time, he was drenched in sweat. Buju shared moments on stage with a number of artistes including Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, Wayne Wonder, and Gramps Morgan. Stefflon Don also did a cameo.

Eighteen-year-old D'jannah Brown, speaking to the Jamaica Observer, said it was important for her to be there. She was a child when Buju was incarcerated.

“I wanted to experience Buju and him coming back. I'm not really a fan but this was a historical moment and I really wanted to feel what it would be like,” she said.

Buju Banton did a near 10-year stretch in a US prison on drug-related charges. He was deported to Jamaica on December 7, 2018.

Other performers on the show were Wayne Marshall, Jahazeil (Buju's son), Ghost, Cocoa Tea, Koffee, Etana, Christopher Martin, Romain Virgo, LUST, and Chronixx.

Nate Grate from Australia said the highlight for him was when Buju came on stage.

“I've been putting this trip together for over a month and it was all worth it. I spent US$5,000 on the whole thing and honestly, it was great and really, really worth it!” he exclaimed.

According to Ronnie Tomlinson, Buju's publicist, more than 32,000 people showed up. The night culminated in fireworks as Buju Banton said, “We Love You!” to his fans and well-wishers.

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