“My son was not a drug dealer.”
These were the words of Safiya Williams yesterday as she spoke out about the death of her nine-year-old son, Cyon Paul.
A Guyanese women’s group is sounding the alarm over the lyrics of songs by local chutney soca artiste Ravi “Ravi B” Bissambhar and Antiguan band Burning Flames.
Ravi B’s Prescription and Burning Flames’ Kick in She Back Door are beng described as illicit and seeking to promote gender-based violence.
The Women and Gender Equality Commission of Guyana (WGEC) is calling for an immediate ban on the two songs receiving heavy rotation on the airwaves.
According to guyanatimesgy.com, the commission’s head, Nicole Cole, told Guyanese media on Tuesday that the commission was totally against these songs being promoted and played in public places.
Cole, who is also a member of the Media Monitoring Committee of Guyana, said Prescription promotes substance abuse.
She was quoted as saying: “Really and truly, no doctor would give such a prescription—three bottles of rum a day!”
She said the song also promoted gender-based violence, which is linked to substance abuse and led to the murder or the deaths of many innocent women.
The lyrical content of the other song, which won the Antiguan Road March in 2012 but was subsequently banned there, is said to be inciting acts of violence and promoting rape and sodomy of women.
Cole said Burning Flames is scheduled to perform at the Jam Zone Regional Nite (a summer festival in Guyana) on August 16. She said unfortunately, women are gyrating to the lyrics without recognising the deeper meaning behind the song.
The commission remains adamant that both songs are distasteful and disrespectful and in violation of women’s rights.
Cole said: “Just imagine a man drinking three bottles of rum each day. What will happen on our roadways and to our women in society?”
Last October, American R&B star Chris Brown was criticised by the same body, after he was billed to perform in the capital, Georgetown.
Protesting women’s groups voiced their opinions on blogs, saying allowing Brown to perform in the country sent the wrong message, given his criminal record of domestic violence. Brown was convicted in 2009 of felony assault after beating his girlfriend, the Bajan singer Rihanna.
In a short text message to the T&T Guardian yesterday, Bissambhar apologised to his Guyanese fans.
He said: “I am very sorry if anyone finds my song offensive. It was done purely as an item of entertainment and I have performed it several times in Guyana. I love all my Guyanese fans and again I am sorry if anyone feels offended.”
Also contacted yesterday, Tuco president Lutalo “Brother Resistance” Masimba said although you cannot tell an artiste what to write or sing, it was the personal responsibility of all artistes to be mindful of the messages conveyed in their songs.
“As an artiste you have a responsibility because you are dealing with words and you are putting music out there for people to move to. They also have to remember that this music can be heard by children,” said Masimba.
He said it was also the responsibility of radio stations and the media to ensure songs with improper or offensive lyrical content were censored.
The T&T Guardian also tried to reach Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas, for comment, but calls to his phone went unanswered.