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No ‘rampin’ with culture – Charles Town Maroons speak out

Source: Paul Williams, Jamaica Gleaner

Dancehall artistes and advocates claim that this musical genre is an important part of the Jamaican culture. Yet, some people argue that it is an unwholesome element of our heritage that has destroyed a generation of Jamaicans.

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Photo by Paul Williams From left: Dwayne Christie, Delano Douglas and Gregory Henry of the Charles Town Maroon Drummers give The Sunday Gleaner a taste of Maroon culture, on Tuesday, February 12.

The current public brouhaha surrounding Rampin’ Shop and its recent ban because of its sexually explicit lyrics do not augur well either for this very popular type of music.

One place where Rampin’ Shop is also not getting much love is in the Charles Town Maroons village. Following a discussion last Thursday between men from the village and The Sunday Gleaner, the general view is that Rampin’ Shop and other songs containing blatant sexual content are not welcome.

The young Maroons are bent on preserving their heritage and argue that dancehall is not necessarily good for their culture.

“Mi is a culture man, so certain type a music I not up to it. Rampin’ Shop is dangerous right now because a dem things deh a bruk out the youth,” said Warren Douglas, son of the late Maroon icon, Ken Douglas. “Most of them tune dey must be ban from the air. They don’t make a difference. Certain bedroom style must not be on air playing. Most a dem tune dey a poison the mind of children, even the gun tune them.”

While Dwayne Christie, a Maroon drummer, said he was undecided on whether the song should be banned, Richard Irving, a Rastafarian and a member of the Charles Town Maroon Council, shouted, “Ban Rampin’ Shop! A evil that!”

Rampin’ Shop, Christie said, was for adults, and it was the parents’ responsibility to make sure that their children were not exposed to it. He also bemoaned the fact that dancehall music was being promoted over traditional cultural forms, but was adamant that “good will conquer evil because a righteousness wi a preach”.

Gregory Henry, another drummer, believed that the song should not be banned generally, but that it must not be played on radio.

“Everybody listen to radio, even likkle pickney a play radio. It not going to work on the radio,” he said.

Henry said he did not have a problem with dancehall music per se, but as someone who is heavily involved in promoting Maroon culture, Rampin’ Shop and other such songs have no place on sacred Maroon grounds.

“That not going to work around here, a Maroon wi deal with. Maroon song, everything round here so different. It’s a cultural place,” he asserted.

Charles Town Maroon leader, Colonel Frank Lumsden, is beside himself because of some of the songs that dancehall produces. He does not even regard dancehall music as a meaningful aspect of Jamaica’s culture. It is something alien, different from what his ancestors stood for.

“I applaud (Broadcasting Commission Chairman) Hopeton Dunn in his stance; someone has to stand up for something!” he exclaimed.

After speaking with The Sunday Gleaner, the Maroons headed towards their museum, where they sprinkled white rum, grabbed the drums and proceeded to beat the goatskins mercilessly before breaking out into songs.

The light-footed Colonel Lumsden joined the cultural feast, dancing to the music of his ancestors. There was no rampin’, though, only an explosive musical climax from the preservers of the Maroon culture.

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This entry was posted on March 8, 2009 by in Jamaica News and tagged , , .