Tony Rebel has declared his 1991 hit song Sweet Jamaica, a track which venerates Jamaica’s beauty and allure, while outlining the serious issues the island faces, as the unofficial national anthem of Jamaica.
“Real song unofficial national anthem of Jamaica,” the Reggae/Dancehall artist captioned an Instagram post on Thursday about the song, which he had hailed after his performance at Rebel Salute this year, as a “strong song even after 30 years”.
Sweet Jamaica was released by Bobby Digital on his Digital B label in 1991 on Eric Donaldson’s 1977 Cherry Oh Baby riddim. In the lyrics, Tony Rebel had listed an improper system and Jamaica’s economic conditions as the key problems, but that nevertheless, the island was still a “glorious land” and a “nice place fi live”.
The Teach The Children artist’s video post, which featured Sweet Jamaica as the soundtrack proved somewhat perplexing as it also contained an image of a suited Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, with an arrow highlighting the controversial ‘white angel vs black devil’ insignia of the Order of St Michael and St George on his jacket, as opposed to images of Jamaica, like the song’s official video.
The post, while met with cheers from a few fans, saw one commenter reminding that the insignia which was being sported by the Kings representative, depicts a white man, cited as a triumphant archangel, with his foot on the neck of a black man deemed to be the Devil.
“Tony that’s a white angel standing on the neck of a black Lucifer,” she declared.
In 2020 when news surfaced that the GG’s insignia was “racist”, as it depicts a white man cited as an archangel with his foot on the neck of a black man deemed to be ‘, it had ignited a firestorm on social media, where many critics declared that it reminded them of the gruesome death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer who knelt in his neck for several minutes in the US.
After the popular outcry, Allen had said he would ask the Chancellor of the Order of St Michael and St George to review the controversial insignia of the order.
He had also said that he had asked his office to “review all insignias and iconography associated with the Office of The Governor General that may be considered racialised or culturally inappropriate”.
Reggae artist Kabaka Pyramid had also said he was not surprised at the news, back then.
“Rasta been tellin you. Their aim is to keep us down. We will never be independent with the Queen of England and her governor general as head of state. Reparations now!!!” Kabaka had noted on Twitter.
The Governor General had also said that he had sent a letter to the Chancellor of the Order of St Michael and St George requesting a revision of the image used on the medal and that he had “recommended that it be changed to reflect an inclusive image of the shared humanity of all peoples”.
In a release to the media, he had stated that it was evident that the image on the insignia “can be offensive” and that he welcomes the concerns and the negative emotions the image has caused.
The Order of St Michael and St George was named in honour of two military saints, St Michael and St George and dates back to the 19th century in commemoration of the British protectorate over the Ionian Islands and Malta.
It has traditionally been bestowed and worn by Governors-General within the Commonwealth who have been knighted by The British Monarch, but is also presented to diplomats, foreign service officers, and persons who hold high office.