FOLLOWING weeks of intense public debate and front page headlines in Barbados, the Mavado, Vybz Kartel unity concert scheduled for this weekend has been officially cancelled.
Prime Minister David Thompson made the announcement at a press conference held yesterday, exactly two days before the event. Thompson is quoted in the Barbados Advocate as saying: "That quest to do the right thing by Barbadians prompted my request for the meeting with the organisers of the proposed show and I am happy to announce that in deference to the expressed wishes and the anxieties of a very wide cross-section of Barbadians, that the organisers of the Mavado/Vybz Kartel show and Youth Forum have agreed to the revamping of initiatives resulting in the cancellation of this weekend's activities."
The prime minister said that persons were mainly concerned with the idea of these artistes being portrayed as role models.
"Don't leave here in any doubt; anything that has to be done to protect our children in this country will be done," he stressed.
Interestingly, Vybz Kartel, the Gaza president and Mavado, the Gully god performed in Barbados on separate occasions in October and November of last year, during what was then the height of Gully/Gaza tensions between them and their respective supporters. No attempt was reportedly made then by the government nor the police to prevent those concerts, which progressed incident-free.
There have been suggestions in some quarters that the cancellation stemmed in part from the fact that the promoter, Jack Farrell, is Vincentian and therefore should not have been the one to promote an event of this magnitude in Barbados.
"Mavado and Kartel sharing the same stage at a concert promoting peace and unity is huge by any standards. That is a sell-off event. And you must remember that there is a big reggae show in April, put on by promoters based here in Barbados," a source explained.
The commissioner of police, Darwin Dottin had stated initially that he did not have the manpower to police the show, and would therefore not grant the required permit.
That, however, was subsequently reversed and Farrell, who was named as joint promoter with the government-affiliated Barbados Youth Action Programme, subsequently resumed his planning for the event.
Farrell reportedly stated yesterday that the artistes had been booked to arrive in the island last night, but it was not clear whether or not they had actually left Jamaica for Barbados.
Farrell had said previously that a cancellation of the show would mean a loss of more than $200,000 for his company.
"I have invested a lot of money in this show, I've paid the artistes deposits, paid for advertising the show and paid for airline tickets and hotel accommodation, among other things," Farrell reportedly said.He said the show would bring needed revenue into the country and enhance business for a number of interests such as boutiques and food vendors.