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HomeNewsLocal governmentReggae Giant Vaughn Benjamin May Get St. Croix Monument

Reggae Giant Vaughn Benjamin May Get St. Croix Monument

The testifiers above were just some who supported honoring Akae Beka. (Screenshot courtesy V.I. Legislature live stream)

V.I. Senate hearings can take on colorful and diverse tones, but Tuesday’s hearing to honor reggae personality Vaughn Benjamin, also known as Akae Beka, took on a musical tone. Benjamin died in 2019 at the age of 50. Many of his songs have hit the Billboard Reggae Album Top 10 chart many times.

The Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection was considering commending Vaughn Benjamin for his contributions to reggae music in the Virgin Islands and the global communities, appropriating $45,000 to the Sports, Parks and Recreation Department for the design and construction of the “Vaughn Benjamin Monument,” and naming the waterfront park west of the Marley Homes “The Vaughn ‘Akae Beka’ Memorial Park.”

Testifier Phil Codrington said the best way to talk about Benjamin was to quote from his song lyrics. From various songs, he highlighted these quotes.

“They have low ways sweet and convincing in the beginning the two faces of evil and oppression. True face of negatives and suppression… I am the Kabba stone, the original corner stone the Kabba Stone…Destroying the blueprint so no one can see who is the original and who is the copy.”

A sample of Benjamin’s music can be heard here. ‎

Vaughn Benjamin (Photo by James Lakay)Vaughn Benjamin by James Lakay)
Vaughn Benjamin (Photo by James Lakay)

Musician and former Energy Office Director Bevan Smith said that Benjamin “deserves this recognition as the most prolific, globally accomplished, and widely respected musician to ever come out of the Virgin Islands.”

Smith also had a couple of favorite quotes from Benjamin’s music. He mentioned,  “… your body is your temple, your one and only temple, you are living in the Holy places of the tabernacle of the Most High Jah, love the life you live, lead the life you love … don’t shed no tears …” and “… Black is the color of our Solar System, out of blackness was born the light, Black is the color of the whole universe, your morning starts with darkness, did not your morning start with darkness, well so does tonight, Alpha and Omega I, the beginning and the end …”

Senate President Novelle Francis Jr., who attended the meeting as a non-committee member but as a bill sponsor, said Benjamin was a “reggae giant.”

The committee voted unanimously and favorably to send the act to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further action.

Sens. Samuel Carrión, Ray Fonseca, Alma Francis Heyliger, Javan James Sr. and Carla Joseph were among the committee members attending. Sens. Kenneth Gittens and Milton Potter were absent.

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