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Mutabaruka receive the Order of Distinction

When he took the stage to perform at Reggae Sunsplash in 1981, the barefoot dub poet called Mutabaruka was unknown. He created a stir with his raw delivery of pieces like Witeman Country and Every Time A Ear De Sound and left the stage a star.

Now 63, ‘Muta’ is still raising eyebrows with his take on social issues — from corrupt Jamaican politicians to rampant poverty and crime in Jamaica.

Today, the man christened Allan Hope will receive the Order of Distinction (Commander class) from the Jamaican government for his contribution to the country’s music.

He will be recognised today during the National Awards and Honours ceremony at King’s House in St Andrew.

Two years after his triumphant Sunsplash debut, Mutabaruka’s debut album Check It! was released. Produced by guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, it contained the aforementioned songs as well as the hard-hitting De System and Butta Pan Kulcha.

Check It! is one of reggae’s great statements. It touched a nerve with budding poets like Yasus Afari and Afro-centric people like Marcia Simpson, who was raised in the United Kingdom.

“I have known Muta since 1982 and he has always been an inspiration because of his investment in books and for the knowledge acquired. He’s very outstanding...his impact is global, not just in Jamaica,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

For over a decade, Mutabaruka has hosted the aptly named Cutting Edge on Irie FM, touching hot button topics and playing like-minded music from Jamaica, the Diaspora and Africa.

The entertainment/arts are strongly represented at today’s ceremony. Deejay Shabba Ranks, singers William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke and Gregory Isaacs, and painter Cecil Cooper have also been awarded ODs (Officer class).


Chris Chin, president of VP Records, and sculptors Cecil Cooper and Basil Watson have been awarded the OD Commander class.

By Howard Campbell Observer senior writer

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