A Long Walk To Freedom: Buju Banton Delivers Historic Performance in Kingston

by Sheri-kae McLeod

Credit: Ryan Mattis

After being incarcerated for eight years, Reggae superstar Buju Banton delivered a historic performance at the first stop on his ‘Long Walk To Freedom’ Tour in Kingston, which was said to be one of the most anticipated reggae shows to ever be held in Jamaica.

 On Saturday, March 16, 2019, Buju Banton kicked off his ‘Long Walk To Freedom’ Tour at the National Stadium in Kingston. It was pandemonium as locals, as well as tourists and international celebrities, flocked to see his first show since his release in December 2018. At full capacity, the national stadium seats approximately 35,000 people, but the number of patrons at this first show exceeded capacity, leaving many persons to stand in walk-ways or sit in aisles.

The gates opened at 4:00 PM and early performances included Ghost, LUST and Buju’s son Jahazeil Myrie. As the night went on, other reggae artists gave stellar performances; namely, Agent Sasco, Chris Martin, Romain Virgo, Etana, Cocoa Tea who was joined by reggae newcomer Koffee, and Chronixx.

At about 11:20 pm, the man of the year graced the stage. Dressed in all white, with his locs long and flashing, an almost-spiritual Buju Banton began his performance asking “have mercy on me”.

The crowd erupted, in one of the loudest roars ever to be heard from the National Stadium, as Banton opened with his hit song “Not an Easy Road”.

Although there were a few glitches an technical difficulties relating to mic and sound, that still did not put a damper on the celebration. Buju was in his element, and it was clear. In his two-hour set, the superstar did not miss a beat as far as connection, energy and stage presence.

Soul-wrenching classics like “Destiny” and “Untold Stories” had an emotional effect on many patrons in the audience, while the dancehall hits like “Too Bad”, “Champion” and of course, “Driver A” put the crowd in a frenzy.

And he brought even more artists to share his moment. British-Jamaican rapper Stefflondon; Marcia Griffiths, whom he said was like a mother to him, Wayne Wonder; and the legendary Beres Hammond all joined Banton on stage.

Buju’s performance ended much like the way it started, in a spiritual fashion. He shared the stage, for his last performance of the night, with Gramps Morgan, collaborating on “Psalms 23”.

The historic night came to an end, shortly after 1:00 am, with fireworks that lit up the national stadium.

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