Popular Soca artiste, Peter ‘Ram’ Wiggins over the past week has been thrown into a firestorm of criticism over a recent performance which many have condemned as hateful and homophobic.
During last Saturday night’s Splash Pool Party hosted by Splash Party Inc., Wiggins reportedly featured Jamaican artiste, TOK’s 2001 hit song, ‘Chi Chi Man’, which advocates the physical abuse and murder of homosexuals. It was reportedly followed by a rendition of Ram’s own hit song, ‘I need a woman by my side’.
The Jamaican song’s hook says: “From dem a par inna chi chi man car, blaze de fire mek we bun dem. From dem a drink inna chi chi man bar, blaze de fire mek we bun dem.”
It also goes on to declare that if “dem [homosexuals] bring it to we”, they will be filled with “copper shot [bullets]”.
The expression ‘chi chi’ man is a Jamaican slur, which is used to identify members of the homosexual community and the entertainer’s action raised the ire of Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, a promoter of the event along with well known public figure and political scientist, Peter Wickham, who attended the party.
So concerned was the political scientist that he addressed it on Voice of Barbados’, Down to Brass Tacks radio programme, which he moderates. In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Wickham further questioned Peter Ram’s motives for playing the offensive song.
“The general concern at the party was that it was offensive and unnecessary. It is a soca show, so why would you sample a reggae artiste other than the fact that you were trying to make a point?” asked Wickham.
“I think it caught a lot of us at the party by surprise because it came from nowhere and it sounded like he was just trying to make some kind of a political statement…But as a patron, I do not appreciate being in an event where anyone is speaking hate to any group and that is my challenge and there were a lot of people there with me that had the same concern,” he said.
According to Wickham, the event was supposed to be an “inclusive” event but pointed out that even at Government-sponsored events, such behavior would not have been tolerated.
“He performed at a national event the day after [2019 Soca Monarch Finals] and he did not perform that song. My assumption is that he was trying to make a point to that audience that he was speaking to, because he can’t go on an NCF stage and perform that song and he understood that he could not perform that song at a national event, because it runs contrary to the NCF’s policy,” argued Wickham.
On the call-in programme, Wickham went as far as diagnosing Ram with a homophobia “problem”.
“It is unnecessary, distasteful, and to me it kills an event and he has to appreciate that he embarrasses the promoters of the event when he behaves like that in a public forum. I don’t get the impression that people celebrate that type of performance. I believe people are generally past that nonsense,” said Wickham.
“TOK’s song has been banned for many years and it can’t be played on Starcom and most other radio stations have taken a position against it because it is generally considered to be encouraging hate.”
When Barbados TODAY reached out to Peter Ram, he said: “I am not getting into that mix up.”
Meanwhile, Minister Abrahams soundly condemned the artiste’s behavior and in a statement said he informed his management of Splash Inc.’s position against discrimination.
“I have no difficulty with Ram, but as an artiste I do have a problem with him being offensive. I have addressed it …and he understands that Ram cannot perform any hate songs at our events. I believe apart from being inappropriate it is also unnecessary,” said Abrahams in a statement.
The incident occurred amid a debate primarily between gay rights activists and church leaders about the extent to which Barbados’ laws should reflect a greater level of sexual inclusion.
President of the Barbados Gays Lesbians and All Sexuals Against Discrimination (BGLAD), Donnya Piggott was among numerous public figures to condemn Peter Ram’s actions.
In a Facebook post, she described the artiste as “inappropriate and awfully out of touch”.
Some supporters of Peter Ram on the other hand have also taken to social media accusing his critics of unfairly threatening the artiste’s livelihood. [email protected]