A local veteran entertainer is concerned about the penetration of popular overseas cultures promoting extreme violence, drug abuse and hatred and which is making its way into local music, films and other forms of art.
Popular rhythm-poet Adisa Aja Andwele was responding to questions about the emergence of an entertainment culture similar to that of Jamaica and U.S art, music, and literature, which glorifies illicit sex, violence and gang warfare.
Speaking at the launch of the Open Ya Eyes anti-violence community competition, he said artistes were gaining more traction by promoting violence and complained that in some local entertainment circles, young artists who promote positive music and denounced negative lifestyles were no longer being taken seriously and in some cases were even frowned upon.
“Our young people have been recolonized by the ghettos in the United States from a system designed in the boardrooms of recording studios. They have determined that only badness is going to get hits, only badness is going to get Press, and only the bad boys are going to get signed. That isn’t accidental, so when I look at Barbados and I walk around communities and see Gaza and names of other foreign territories, which are ghettoes, that is a form of colonization and that is one of the things that we are fighting against.
“The issue is that there is a drug situation, guns are on the road and a social culture has been developed around that. Being a bad boy or a violent person has become hip. It’s become a sexy thing and a social culture and dynamic have come out of that. Therefore the artists now want to portray that,” said Aja.
Responding to questions about the emergence of a YouTube-based drama series entitled Badness which explicitly depicts the lives of those living in crime-ridden neighborhoods filled with illegal drug use, abusive language and guns, the social commentator said this was just the tip of the iceberg.
“The landscape is being shaped by negative vibrations and social contradictions,” some of which he believed had been appropriated from abroad.
“You become big when you’re bad, you become a big selling recording artist when you beat up people on the streets or live like you are a gangster. That isn’t Barbados,” he added.
“When I look at the international media scene and the hip hop scene in the United States, no conscious artists get signed anymore. We must ask ourselves why. They have created a culture and a social dynamic that is sucking our Barbadian young people in. It’s not rooted in our culture, so they are borrowing and adopting lifestyles and cultures from outside,” he said.
Aja accused policy makers in local education for failing to teach young people about their history, thereby giving them an identity.
“Children aren’t being taught who they are as Barbadians… about Bussa, who tried to liberate Barbados and trigger emancipation; or Grantley Adams who came and triggered a social revolution, or about Errol Barrow who came and spoke about independence. That vibration isn’t penetrating and coming into secondary schools,” he said.
Nevertheless, he urged local artists: “Check your history, don’t get caught up in these negative vibrations influencing us. It is a form of cultural penetration and a form of cultural imperialism.”