According to Professor Carolyn Cooper, Vybz Kartel was the ultimate Dancehall deejay, which Chairman of Jamaica’s National Health Fund Howard Mitchell, was desirous of having at the forefront of the Ministry of Health’s Every Vax Counts campaign.
Professor Cooper, who is a teacher of English Language and Literature and a specialist on culture and development, said that on Wednesday, August 18, Mitchell told her that he had advised Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton “to go and reason with Vybz Kartel in prison to see if he would compose a song to encourage people to get vaccinated”.
“Mitchell said he didn’t know if Kartel would do it. But he certainly knew it would be a huge hit,” Cooper wrote in her weekly column on her website.
“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 noted.
The University of the West Indies professor, who is a linguistics lecturer and the author of the books Sound Clash: Jamaica Dancehall Culture at Large and Noises in the Blood, in making her pitch for Kartel, Cooper said that the onus was now on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to recruit the Fever deejay, as he, hands down, would be the best bet for reaching their vaccination target.
“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 wrote.
On Thursday afternoon there was dissent in relation to Ding Dong joining the Ministry of Health’s Every Vax Counts campaign, after Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton unveiled a poster on his Instagram page, of the Genna Bounce artist repping for the islandwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
While Ding Dong was cheered on by many of his fans and congratulated by others who said he was setting a good example for the rest of the nation to follow, there were other skeptics who ridiculed the Ministry of Health for its decision to use the Nannyville native to promote health-seeking behaviors.
Some commenters, similar to Professor Cooper, told the Minister that the only artist who had the requisite influence to get people vaccinated, was Vybz Kartel.
However, a politician trying to commission Kartel might be a futile effort.
During the 2020 general election campaign, with the full backing of his Gaza Nation, he had frontally ripped into his Dancehall colleagues who had been voicing campaign dubplates for politicians.
On his Instagram page, he had condemned politicians and artists, whom he decried as ‘Musical Clowns’, who were joining forces with candidates and “doing dubplates for hype”.
“Dancehall burn politics, now artistes doing dubs fi dem… unuh beyond learning tpc!” he scolded.
On Sunday, Professor Cooper’s opinion piece, which was also carried in the Jamaica Gleaner, was mainly met with ridicule.
“Utter Rubbish! In the Kartel interview he was saying the gov locked him away because they said he had too much “influence”. I’d love to know what they would give him for him to agree to do this. Crazy,” Maria said on Twitter.
“This is the highest level of absurdity I have ever come across since the corona virus hit us in March of 2020. Is this statement for real??? Mitchell and all who supported this call should be very much ashamed of themselves,” dela vega wrote on the Gleaner’s website.
Over on Instagram, the criticisms were the same.
“Carolyn Cooper is actually suggesting that the Prime Minister reach out to a convicted murderer to assist in a marketing campaign to get people to take the vaccine??? Sometimes I wonder if we use basic common sense. To even think aloud, such a ridiculous notion enhances public perception of your mental state. Aggrey Irons beckons…….please attend his office immediately,” chriswilliamsjam wrote.
“This piece is a total waste of time. Dr. Cooper is just kissing Kartel’s ass. Attention she ah look,” rimonde_aprile_ wrote, while ridx3.4 added: “This is carelessness to put this woman article in your paper. A convicted murderer really”.
Vybz Kartel, whose given name is Adidjah Palmer, has been serving a life sentence since 2014 for the murder of his friend Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. The Portmore native, who has been in prison since 2011, was ordered to serve 35 years before parole, but had two and a half years taken off his sentence following an appeal in April 2020. Kartel’s final appeal is to be heard by the UK Privy Council.
Last week, the Real BadMan singer’s “jailhouse” interview with FOX 5 NY created controversy in Jamaica and triggered a major multi-agency probe, because it appeared to have been conducted without the knowledge or consent of the Department of Correctional Services.