By Yasser Musa
Andy and Shyne
I’ve been thinking about two artists recently Andy Palacio and Moses Michael Levi (born Jamal Barrow) aka Shyne, both Belizean, but that is where the similarity ends.
 
Two days ago Dean the father of Moses announced that he was going to use Petro money to build a church for the church leaders. The Prime Minister’s smile reminded me of his son’s lyric from the Bad Boys song,
 
Bling bling, it’s a Bad Boy thing
Bullets heat-seekin, streep sweepin, with an evil grin
 
In late 2007 Andy Palacio walks up the red cliffs of Barranco. International and Belize media trail him. A hyped up pack of friends and fans follow him to where his mother is seated. Palacio is formally conferred UNESCO Artist for Peace by Culture Minister Francis Fonseca. His acceptance speech is short, he decides to sing and then dance in a circle of older women.
 
That same year Stonetree Records from Benque Viejo released Watina, which like a rocket shot up to # 1 on the World Music Charts. Andy and producer Ivan Duran are awarded the World Music Expo Award (WOMEX). In his acceptance speech Andy said,
 
“In today’s world, however, Garifuna music has taken on the additional role of contributing to the socio-economic development not only of its practitioners, but indeed of the very nations of which we are citizens, making contributions in just about every field, including education, governance, commerce, entertainment and tourism.”
 
Whenever I talk to artists, and musicians and the issue of Belize’s current Music Ambassador comes up the conversation turns sour, distasteful to borrow a word from the father of Moses.
 
Why?
 
In 2009 the artist Shyne returned to his homeland. His uncle Michael Finnegan declared to the nation that he had built a special extension to his home so that his nephew could start a recording studio.
 
Shyne was appointed Music Ambassador by his father’s government. They said he would be working with the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH). But by 2010, NICH was heading down a path of Colonial masturbation. They took a calculated cultural turn to pre-1981, back to British Honduras with its aura for fake elitism and a passive compliant approach to culture.
 
Since his appointment not even the staunchest supporters of this UDP government has come forward to defend the role of Shyne in the context of development,  except his father who on June 12, 2014 said, “I thought, hoping that he could regain former glory and rise to former heights.”
 
It is easy to say that Shyne as Music Ambassador has been a sick joke, a slap in the face to the artistic community and dagger to the progress that could have been made. However, that is not my main critique.
 
Shyne is a pawn on a chessboard designed by his megalomaniac father Dean Barrow. It was never about cultural progress, development or hard work. It had everything to do with a colonial mind fixated on power not progress.
 
If there is one thing I learned from my brother Andy Palacio it is that we are journeymen on a mission to change the things we can. We live in a world of contrasts. The approach of our ambassador from Barranco is very different from the one from Brooklyn.
 
Brooklyn is bling bling, it’s a bad boy thing.
Barranco is Lidan Aban (together).
 
Respect to together….Juntos Podemos!