Where Are the Songs About Tivoli?

MLK, Jr. Memorial

Last week on my way home I was listening to U2’s “Under A Blood Red Sky.”  When “Sunday Bloody Sunday” came on I put it on repeat and let my mind wander.  It’s not the first time that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” has gripped me in this way…something about this song gives me chills, from the words to the arrangement to the melody.  The song is about the shooting of 13 mostly unarmed marchers on a Sunday afternoon (there is a question about whether one of those killed was armed).  The militaristic drums from Larry Mullen, Jr. + the guitars from The Edge & Adam Clayton + Bono plaintively wailing, “I can’t believe the news today.  I can’t close my eyes and make it go away…”  Gives me chills every time.  Kinda like how I felt in the few days leading up to and week of May 24, 2010.  Bono sings of the struggle for freedom that gripped Northern Ireland for many years, and that had one of its defining and bloodiest days on Sunday, January 30, 1972.

Are our voices under siege now too?

But this time I began to wonder…where are the songs about the 2010 Tivoli Massacre?  An entire week of bloodletting yet nothing’s come out of Jamaica’s prolific music establishment? Nothing from our Reggae stalwarts or up-and-comers?  The silence seems so opposite of our musical  and cultural traditions that I’m surprised I haven’t noticed this before.  This may be ironic but it’s times like these that I miss Buju the most.  Mourn the death of Garnett Silk.  And bemoan the disappearance of Sizzla.  Please, if I’m missing the song or songs please let me know.  If i’m missing the dub poetry let me know.  I fear that this isn’t one of the times when I’m simply out of the loop…and I’m filled with a despair I can’t fully grasp because 73 lives + the lives of the living left behind to cope seem to mean nothing.  Almost a year and half and nothing is being said by either the ruling Government of Jamaica or the Opposition.  Yet, we’ve had inquiry into the Manatt Mendacity.  Then again, it was not until 2010 — 38 years later and after 12 years of investigation — that the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday was made public and an apology issued by the UK Government to the people, victims, and families of the unarmed who were killed.  Now there is talk of compensation and other payouts to victims and victims’ families.  There is talk about possible legal action – criminal or military court, I believe – against the soldiers who acted on that day.

I don’t know if “no angels” died in Tivoli in May 2010 but my instinct tells me that there may have been more than a few innocents who were murdered.  I don’t romanticize either Bloody Sunday or Tivoli but I cannot accept the deafening silence, gross inaction, lack of justice, and accountability.  The harm to Jamaica as we all continue on while nothing is done – and nothing concertedly demanded – is immeasurable, I think, and we may well reap the sorrows in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.  I also wonder what that entire week of mayhem did to the Jamaican army personnel.  What of their humanity?  What about society’s conscience?

Is it that these Northern Irish deserve this long-awaited and overdue justice? After all they fought for freedom – they were marching in Derry on Sunday, January 30, 1972 for what they believe(d) in.  Their struggle was not always a peaceful one: they threw stones at the soldiers who were manning the march route and some of these soldiers fired back and later claimed that there was gunfire coming from the crowd and of course there was the IRA vs Ulster supporters et al.  Yet the Northern Irish – on all sides of The Troubles – demanded action and justice…they fought, they stood up for their rights.  Sound familiar? Where is the fight for Jamaica? The marches? For Tivoli? For all who live in the 3 counties, 14 parishes, and 63 constituencies? The persistent and clear demands for transparency and action that is in the best interest of Jamaica? How come we’re only willing to stand in line for a club or party or show or football match…or even to cast a vote but won’t do the other things that are necessary to maintain our democracy.  We – not just Jamaican voters – seem to forget that on election day we HIRE people to best represent OUR interest.  They are our EMPLOYEES.  Hold them accountable from the day you cast your vote…

But I digress, which is usual for me.  I still want to know where the songs about Tivoli are…can anyone tell me?

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2 Responses to “Where Are the Songs About Tivoli?”
  1. I ought to visit your blog more often. This post in particular pull my heart strings a bit. You are right. I also miss Buju, the expresser of anti-Babylonness. Anyway, I know of at least one up-and-coming artist who was so moved by the Tivoli episode that she wrote, recorded and released songs under that inspiration – if it may be called that. As far as I know, the songs don’t explicitly mention the situation though…

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  1. […] history, was and still is being told by Mattathias Schwartz.  We don’t even have a barrage of songs about Tivoli.  It’s like we’ve locked the events of May 2010 away in some deep dark recess of our […]



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