Not an easy price

“Mi cyaan afford it!” This is the cry of a number of persons days ahead of Buju Banton’s first major performance since his release from prison last December.

The Observer spoke to residents from the singer’s hometown in Whitehall Avenue as well as persons in the Half-Way-Tree area. A number of them expressed that the cost to attend Buju’s Long Walk to Freedom Concert, scheduled for Saturday at the National Stadium in Kingston, is the reason they will not be part of the audience.

“Mi did waan guh before but di price kinda turn mi off,” said Dornette Whyte from Whitehall Avenue. “People in di community feel di same way, ’cause mi hear dem talk seh it too expensive. They should have made di cost cheaper for people like we who cyaan afford it.”

Her sentiments were shared by Amanda Wint, who said she had more pressing matters.

“I’m not going. I don’t have di money. Mi have other things fi think ’bout right now,” she said. The 26-year-old also told the Observer that she is a fan of Buju and still listens to his music today though he is yet to release new songs.

Early Bird VIP tickets costs US$140, while Early Bird General is US$80.

Some members of the community looking to attend were fortunate enough to get free tickets or are part of the staff working at the show.“Di otha day mi find one a mi likkle chargie an’ him a tell mi seh him want mi come put in some work at di bar. Even if I wasn’t going to work, I would still buy a ticket ’cause a Buju dat,” said Bryan Morrison.

“Actually, mi a get a ticket from some a mi friend dem, so wi would be going as a team. But mi a chef still, suh mi go affi work dah day deh. A Buju ting still, suh mi woulda guh,” were the sentiments of Miguel “Whisper” Foster. He says Buju is an inspiration to him as a young artiste.

While the cost of tickets was a concern for some in the Whitehall Avenue area in Kingston, in Half-Way-Tree younger persons were just not interested in attending the show.

Eighteen-year-old Tishawn Bernard had no knowledge of the event.

“I’m not going. I don’t know anything about it,” she said. “I’m not really a fan of Buju, I know his songs ’cause my auntie used to play them.”

Shemar Clarke, 21, said he cannot miss UWI carnival which is scheduled for the same day.

“There is J’ouvert, then Ring Road, then Buju concert? I don’t think I can make everything,” he said. Clarke admits he is a fan of the deejay but carnival is priority.

Buju Banton (given name Mark Myrie) served an almost 10-year sentence in prison in the United States for drug possession.

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