‘Not on our Independence Day’
J’cans in diaspora label Montano’s Key to City honour ‘inappropriate’
Jamaicans in the diaspora have described as inappropriate the decision by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) to present a Key to the City to Trinidadian soca artiste Machel Montano during Sunday’s Grand Gala celebrations on...
Jamaicans in the diaspora have described as inappropriate the decision by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) to present a Key to the City to Trinidadian soca artiste Machel Montano during Sunday’s Grand Gala celebrations on the island.
The passionate reactions have been coming in from individuals who have readily embraced the spreading of Jamaica’s culture outside the nation’s shores, as well as the significant roles that individuals not born on the island can still play in its development.
However, Jamaican Douglas Brown, who lives in the Bronx and works with Citadel Care Centers, said that to use Jamaica’s Independence Day to present the Key to Montano was not only inappropriate but a slap in the face of all Jamaicans.
“He is a great singer and on any other occasion I would have no problem with him getting the Key to the City, but not on our Independence Day,” said Brown.
He questioned the thinking behind the gesture and asked if there are no Jamaicans who are deserving of receiving the Key to the City on Independence Day.
“I am very disappointed in the action of the Government. Not on our Independence Day should the Key to the City be given to a foreign person,” he said.
Brown listed a number of noted Jamaican singers who he felt are deserving of such an honour on Independence Day and questioned why a Jamaican was not selected.
Franklyn Dunn, a Jamaican small business owner from Mount Vernon, also decried the decision and questioned why it would have been made.
“It is totally an inappropriate action. It does not look good. Any other time would be fine but not on our Independence Day,” said Dunn.
“While I would not go so far as to call it a slap in the face of Jamaicans, I do believe that the action was inappropriate and not properly thought out.”
A resolution passed at the KSAMC last week stated: “Be it resolved that the Key to the City of Kingston be conferred on Mr Machel Jesus Montano, in recognition of his sterling, awesome and iconic career in music, which has positively influenced many adoring fans across the Caribbean and the world, including many Jamaicans who continue to enjoy his enduring legacy.”
In justifying the recognition that had been proposed for Montano, the resolution also stated that the artiste is “one of the Caribbean’s leading soca singers, who is a highly sought-after record producer and songwriter well known for his fast-paced energy-inducing stage performances, and is loved by millions”.
It also noted that his early education was in Kingston, Jamaica, “and where he undoubtedly developed his love for and appreciation of our music, culture and the arts”.
The resolution added that he “is widely regarded as a friend of Jamaica and has assisted with many fundraising events to assist local charities and community organisations”.
Despite the rationale for the award to the singer, which had been publicly outlined after the resolution was passed, Tony Dobson, Jamaican real estate agent in Florida, also decried the move.
“It is a big disrespect to Jamaica and Jamaicans. Why give the Keys to Kingston to Montano on Independence Day when this could have been done on any other day,” he questioned.
Apparently unaware of the details of the resolution, Dobson asked what Montano has done for Jamaica to deserve getting the keys to the country’s capital city.
“It is a slap in the face of Jamaicans. They should have selected a Jamaican to get the keys, especially on Independence Day,” he said.
It is my view that the Government did not give sufficient thought to what the reaction of Jamaicans would be before taking the decision to make the gesture on Independence Day.
Dofrret Aarons, a Jamaican from Mount Vernon, said that one would think that, on Independence Day, a Jamaican would be the person so honoured.
“We have a lot of Jamaican entertainers who are quietly working behind the scenes to uplift their community so, if you want to honour someone special on Independence Day, why not one of those,” she said.
She asked what was the thinking behind the gesture.
“I am not saying that he is not a good musician, but if you want to honour him, do so at another time and not on our Independence Day,” she said.
Georgia Dunn, a Jamaican from Long Island, also called the move disrespectful, pointing out that there are many Jamaicans who she believed were worthy of such an honour on Independence Day, instead of a foreigner.
“They could have given him the Key to the City at any time, but not on Independence Day,” she said.