Many Yalies did not attend the Buju Banton concert at Toad’s Place Tuesday evening because of the events that had occurred that morning. The show was nevertheless one of the most spiritually uplifting events to be found on campus.
Two years ago I saw Buju perform at Toad’s in what was doubtless one of the most amazing shows I have ever attended. The first, striking component of the performance was my visual intake of Buju himself. He had long, lanky dark limbs, broad shoulders, an incredible African face, and a head of wiry dreads that extended in every direction. The man seemed to be seven feet tall — and he might well be, for all I know.
But nothing begins to compare to the feeling I had when Buju began to sing. His impossibly deep, raspy voice literally thundered through my body, thanks to the state-of-the-art sound system at Toad’s. This is not to underrate the power of Buju’s naked voice, which equals the best in its strength, soul and emotive force.
The body of Buju Banton spoke as well. He danced back and forth across the entire stage, great arms extended outward, eyes staring intensely at something beyond us. It is impossible to understand the power of his presence without actually seeing him with your own eyes.
Tuesday night Buju was rolled onto stage in a wheelchair. He began to sing with the same vitality as in his last show, so I assumed the wheelchair was a joke, like James Brown’s habit of appearing hunched over when he is escorted onstage. Later in the show we learned that he had actually broken his leg in an accident. I was strangely moved by this fact — that Buju had decided to perform despite his condition and despite the day’s tragic events.
Tuesday night Buju Banton sang of peace. He instilled his hope into me and into everyone else present. And after a morning of darkness, his words were not inappropriate: “Organize, centralize, come as one.”