Amidst the vibrant discussions ignited by Jamaica’s 61st Independence celebrations, a new discourse is emerging within the social media realm.
This conversation has been catalysed by the recent revelation that dancehall luminaries Tarrus Riley and Wayne Marshall are slated to receive National Honours later this year. However, the notable absence of recognition for several icons within the media and entertainment sphere continues to cast a shadow over the Jamaican Government’s acknowledgements.
In an exclusive interview with The FIX podcast to promote his latest album, “SIMMA“, the legendary dancehall maestro Beenie Man shared his disappointment regarding the absence of a national award to honour his profound contributions to Jamaican culture. A stalwart in the industry for over four decades, Beenie Man stands as one of the most influential dancehall figures to have propagated Jamaican culture and its impact worldwide. Nonetheless, he has acknowledged that the Jamaican Government’s appreciation seems elusive, and he perceives political factors at play.
Beenie Man disclosed that while he did receive a Prime Minister’s Award during the tenure of former head of state PJ Patterson, he has not been accorded any higher accolades. This omission he categorises as a significant “disrespect.” He emphasised, “I’ve never got an OD [Order of Distinction], or OJ [Order of Jamaica] or anything yet from Jamaica.” The artist noted that peers who gained prominence after him, such as Sean Paul, Sizzla Kalonji and Assassin, have been recognised, leaving him perplexed and alluding to political motivations.
He voiced his frustration with performing at the National Stadium during celebrations for the aforementioned acts, while his own monumental contributions remain unnoticed. Beenie Man humorously conveyed his hopes for recognition before any unforeseen events transpire, underscoring his enduring love for Jamaica and his desire to be recognised.
Beenie Man’s aspiration is encapsulated in the Order of Jamaica (OJ), the highest national honour set to be bestowed upon the legendary Jamaican singer Marcia Griffiths. Expressing his sentiments, he asserted, “Mi nuh want no Order of Distinction, I am already the King of Dancehall, show me some respect, put some respect pan mi name.” He firmly articulated his wish for acknowledgement, highlighting the point that he now feels compelled to assert his rightful place in the pantheon of Jamaican cultural icons.
Notably, this sentiment of unappreciated contributions extends beyond music and into the media realm. Jamaican actor and broadcaster Jason Williams recently voiced similar concerns, particularly concerning media stalwarts Anthony Miller and Winford Williams. As a noted presenter and producer at ONStage TV, Williams pointed out that the Government has overlooked their remarkable influence on the local and regional entertainment landscape. Through his Instagram platform, Williams questioned the glaring oversight, raising the question of why no government has deemed it fit to recognise the contributions of these media luminaries.