Singer John King
Preaching peace, inspiring change though good attitudes
By Neil Marks
Guyana Chronicle
March 23, 2003

Related Links: Articles on people
Letters Menu Archival Menu

“People who know my music know that it portrays a message of unity, peace and love - the basics to uplift the world”

Singer John King
HIS hit song `How many more’, is known to most households in Guyana, and was thought apt for the Independence Park tribute concert for Yohance Douglas, the young University of Guyana student killed in a “reckless” Police shooting on March 1.

John King, one of Barbados’ biggest calypso and soca stars, was invited down here for the free concert organised by Artistes United against Violence and Killing in Guyana and the University of Guyana Student Society.

King, born May 10, 1964, has used his songs to spread social and political commentaries and to inspire change to good attitudes.

“People who know my music know that it portrays a message of unity, peace and love - the basics to uplift the world”, King told the Sunday Chronicle while here for the March 14 concert that was carried live on VCT 28.

Given his objective then, King jumped at the opportunity to sing `How many more, which has become an anthem here.

“When opportunities like this present themselves for me to spread my message, I have to accept. So when I got the call, I just told them to get me here and get me back out,” he said.

Getting down to the reason for his visit, King said that he firmly believes in CARICOM and not just the individual countries of the cluster.

“The message that is being spread of non-violence should therefore be seen in the context of a CARICOM effort towards peace. This message needs to be preached not only in Guyana, but throughout the region, which collectively faces the same problem”, he said.

King, who this year celebrates 21 years in the music business, served a reform school for boys and girls from 1983-91 as a welfare officer. And so, he knows well the effect of violence.

The boys and girls at the reform school were aged 10-17 and ended up there for running into trouble with the law.

“People are not born violent; they are taught to be violent and so we have to look at our societies and see what is making our people violent,”, King pointed out.

He feels that training in good neighbourly relations should start in the home.

“Violent movies and video games are very dangerous, and parents haven’t come to recognise this clearly as yet. In playing video games, for example, if your objective is to destroy and kill people, slowly you begin to loose your sense of humanity. You will find that it doesn’t scare you to take a gun or a knife and attack someone,” King reasoned.

He feels that Caribbean countries need to think about legislation that could see some level of regulation with regards to the importation of video games and the kind of movies that television stations offer to children.

In addition, King believes that conflict resolution should become a part of the normal school curriculum.

“Instead if beating people up when they bother you, the schools could show how problems could be resolved peacefully,” he said.

King also feels that there should be censorship of music that promotes violence, as this kind of music incites people to loose control at every little thing.

Of course, he found out about the fatal Police shooting of Douglas, and knew well that his coming to Guyana was to help in the cause of justice.

However, he was not willing to be dragged into a conversation of what should and should not have happened, but just to speak on the issues in a non-controversial manner.

“No one knows the pressure of the guys in uniform. You leave home and you don’t know if you are ever going to return to your family. You wonder whether someone will pull a gun and that’s the end of you,” he said.

“I’m not trying to make excuses for anyone. But most of the violence comes about because of ignorance and fear - fear for one’s life”, he added.

King feels that the Police should be better trained and more vigilant and that “the men who go out there to serve and protect should have better benefits”.

Before leaving Guyana, King said it was his hope that his voice at the Yohance Douglas memorial concert would have added some weight to the call for non-violent conflict resolution and for there to be “peace on earth”.

Site Meter