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Dotun-Adebayo's picture
One man's foolishness is another man's heinous crimes

BUJU: Jailed for drugs offences

BUJU BANTON’S incarceration sparked off an un-diplomatic incident at the BBC the other day. I was asked to interview Buju's sparring partner and fellow reggae star Tony Rebel on the matter. From years of interviewing reggae artists I have learned the art of getting the best quotes out of them. It's a skill that comes from years of journalistic excellence. You've got to put the interviewee at ease. With reggae stars I get into patois mode and if necessary drop an anecdote from my mentor Peter Tosh.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was flexing with Tony and asking him how Buju got himself into this foolishness. And how a rastaman could actually dip his finger into cocaine and taste it and that kind of foolishness. And how Jamaica is reacting to the sentencing of Buju to ten years in jail for his foolishness... Reasonable qauestions you would have thought. Only the producer came into the studio after the interview asking why I was not taking the interview seriously: "Why are you describing what Buju has done as 'foolishness'? It's much more serious than 'foolishness'. He was done for attempting to deal in kilos of cocaine. He got ten years in jail. That is more than just 'foolishness'."

The said producer is a product of one of the top public schools in the country (as are many of the top people at the BBC). His understanding of 'foolishness' is not the same as ours. I had to break it down for him. 'Foolishness' the way we use it can be anything from playing knock down ginger to committing murder. For us, it's all foolishness. But as was pointed out to me, 'we' are not the majority of the listeners on the network, and to everybody else it would sound like I was the one guilty of foolishness for not taking Buju's crimes as seriously as I take his rhymes.
I had to concede that this was one incident where the way we speak can be lost in translation.

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