Buju Banton returned to the stage in a moment fit for the ages last Saturday evening at the National Stadium in Kingston. After an almost ten-year hiatus, patrons dug deep to pay big bucks for the monumental experience.
Elle Johnson, a patron at the event, said she spent over US$1,200 just to show up for the concert.
“I’ve been planning to be here since October but the tickets sold out in five minutes and the website crashed so I had to wake up at 3:00 am in the morning to buy my tickets. This whole experience was definitely worth the money,” Johnson told the Jamaica Observer.
Traffic blocked roads leading to the National Stadium as thousands eagerly made their way to the highly-anticipated Long Walk To Freedom Concert. Shuttle buses took patrons from roads leading to the venue to its gates.
Minutes after 11:00 pm, emcee Elise Kelly welcomed ‘The Gargamel’ to the stage. He appeared clad in full white while fans screamed and tried to capture the moment on their cellphones.
The white light that beamed around the singjay coupled with his opening prayer (singing) “Have mercy on me” made it a truly celestial moment.
Buju Banton wasted no time to deliver the long-awaited performance; prancing across the stage, he thrilled fans with his powerful vocals. Songs such as Not an Easy Road, Hills and Valleys, and Destiny had members of the audience in tears as the singer enticed their ears and hearts.
‘Nothing will top this’
UK rapper Stefflon Don was one of the night’s performers alongside Buju Banton.
She described it afterwards as the “best moment” of her career.
“From a kid, all my dad would play around the house was reggae and dancehall music,” she wrote on Instagram.
“This moment here means the world to me and it takes me back to my childhood.”
Dancehall singer Koffee said Buju sets a “positive example” for young artists like her.
“To be honest with you Buju is a legend, people like him set the pace for me.”
Protoje, another reggae star at the event, said: “I spoke to him since he’s been back. Just the fact he knows my name or who I am, I give thanks just for that.
“I can only imagine what it was like not being on stage for eight years, just the overwhelming emotions he must have gone through. I am happy for him.”