Minister Marion Hall, former dancehall queen turned Christian, says her ultimate wish for Jamaica's Diamond Jubilee is to see an eradication of crime and violence, and stricter penalties for perpetrators.
"The most important thing is putting an end to crime and violence. I would love that to cease completely. There is so much more to Jamaica; the music, food, scenery, and the beautiful soul of the people. I've noticed that when tourists come to Jamaica, they no longer come out and walk about freely. What they see about Jamaica is not really what Jamaica is because they're not able to see the real joy and soul of our people. The crime and violence needs to be eradicated," she told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.
According to market and consumer data company Statista, Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in Latin America and the Caribbean with 1,463 people murdered in 2021, up from 1,323 in 2020.
Minister Hall further grieved the treatment of women and children, and the lack of resources in solving homicides. She also said she is willing to sit with the leaders of the country to offer suggestions.
"The abuse concerning children and women, that right there is another concern…the disappearance of our children. I'm away but I'm seeing things. I would love to sit at a board meeting with my prime minister and Opposition leader because we have so much to offer. This suffering that is happening with a lot of people — the unemployment and poverty…we need an infrastructure where young youth can get opportunities. Many of them are trying to dance and sing their way out of poverty like I did, but they need more opportunities. I'd like to see criminals paying for what they did and changes in our police force. Just like how in the US they have the proper forensic tools and can match DNA from a crime scene easily and solve the crimes, we need that here. People need to pay for their deeds," she added.
Tomorrow, Jamaica will mark its 60th Independence from Britain.
Hall — who had a long-standing dancehall career — converted to Christianity in 2015.
Based in Florida, she is in Jamaica working on a music video for her forthcoming single Sorry To Hurt Your Feelings, slated to be released next week.
The Galina, St Mary, native noted that it is a testimonial track.
"I'm praising God and thanking for keeping me. It's dancehall, It's young and hip…I'm telling my enemies that [despite] all they did to me, I'm still standing. God said, 'I didn't give you a spirit of fear…' the devil has lost, so it's a win-win for me," she said of the self-produced single on the Marion Hall Ministries label.
She also said it was imperative for the music video to be shot here because of the genre, as well as repaying an act of kindness to the videographer.
"There's a man called Ariff Butler and his wife, when I gave up on sin and I walked away — there was a time when everything was slow monetary wise and I when I wanted to do the video there [Jamaica] but I had no money. I reached out to them and spoke about a budget, but it still wasn't available at the time. They still did the video for Oh Lord Need You. I had a cousin that sent US$100 and we used that to buy juice water and snacks and did the shoot in Galina. Why wouldn't I come back and do it with them and pay them this time? They never asked me for the balance to this day, so I had to come. I also missed Jamaica. It's a dancehall song, so it's quite fitting. You don't have to do slackness to do dancehall," she explained.
Hall said she has shows coming up in Tampa, Florida, Turks and Caicos Islands, New York and London. She is also looking to start work on a new album.
"God gave me so many powerful songs to heal the broken. God put me through a process. There's a song called Freedom that I want to do with Gramps Morgan because he has that rustic voice and I wanna do it right here in Jamaica. So I will be back to do it here," she said.
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