As the government toy with the idea of using Vybz Kartel for Jamaica’s “Every Vax Counts” campaign, some dancehall fans are not in support of the idea.
As the Government of Jamaica seeks new strategies to ramp up the uptake of Covid- 19 vaccines on the island, Professor Carolyn Cooper has brought to light a controversial suggestion that has been met with mixed reactions from every quarter of the Jamaican society.
The university lecturer said the Chairman of Jamaica’s National Health Fund, Howard Mitchell, suggested to health minister Dr. Christopher Tufton that Vybz Kartel could be at the forefront of the “Every Vax Counts” campaign due to his notable influence on the population.
While the suggestion has dropped jaws for many who scoff at the idea of the Government using a murder convict for its personalized purpose, it can hardly be denied that Vybz Kartel has a huge impact on his large fan base.
In 2010, the deejay sparked conversations when he affiliated his skin bleaching to the use of ‘cake soap,’ having many testing the strategy. Vybz Kartel was also very influential in the popularity of Clarks, tattoos, and ‘freaky girls.’
In a recent controversial interview with America’s Fox 5 NY, Vybz Kartel insist that he was being silenced by the Government because of his influence. He referred to the feud between himself and his long-time rival Mavado that sparked war back in 2008. According to Vybz Kartel, both deejays were called to meet with the nation’s leaders to make peace as their influence on the people was recognized.
According to Cooper, the NHF Chairman advised Minister Tufton on Wednesday, August 18, to “go and reason with Vybz Kartel in prison to see if he would compose a song to encourage people to get vaccinated.”
Professor Cooper, who wrote the books “Sound Clash: Jamaica Dancehall Culture at Large” and “Noises in the Blood,” wrote in her Gleaner column that while she was not sure if Vybz Kartel would take up the offer, she was sure it would assist in ramping up vaccination to reach the Government’s target.
“Tufton didn’t take him on at all. I agree with Howard Mitchell. But I wouldn’t be so bold as to suggest Kartel. Considering how I was crucified because I invited him to give a lecture at The University of the West Indies!” She said.
“BroGad had better listen to Howard Mitchell and ask Kartel to assist us in this crisis. Because our situation is dread. COVID-19 is running wild. Kartel is not God’s brother. But his talent might help to save us from falling into the pit of hell,” she continued.
Fellow dancehall star, Ding Dong, has joined the Ministry of Health’s campaign, but Vybz Kartel would probably have declined to join hands with the Government.
While the deejay’s lawyer, Isat Buchanan, recently disclosed that Vybz Kartel supports vaccination and is willing to get vaccinated, the deejay has never been one to stand by the side of the Government. Last year, Kartel did not hold back in lashing dancehall artists who did dub-plates for politicians to support their election campaign.
He scolded them on social media, “Dancehall burn politics, now artistes doing dubs fi dem… unuh beyond learning tpc!”
Vybz Kartel, born Adidjah Palmer, is serving a life sentence for the murder of Clive Lizard Williams. He was ordered to 35 years before parole back in 2014 but appealed in 2020 and had this reduced by two and a half years. The UK Privy Council is scheduled to best the 45-year-old lyricist’s final appeal.
While some fans think Vybz Kartel would help the vaccine rate, others think its a bad idea.
“Why would the government use a convicted murderer to advertise their vaccine? At the end of the day some people will take it and some won’t so why give this convict a platform to be in people’s faces,” one person tweeted.
Another added, “If the government free Vybz Kartel I will take the vaccine and I will encourage everyone to take it.”