Of Beaches, Farmers & Swans

 

burwood beach

Burwood Beach

TO SWIM ON OUR OWN BEACHES     The activist campaign being waged by Jamaicans to save the beaches where Jamaicans who are not tourists can swim, won a victory this week when the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) announced it would be upgrading Burwood Beach in Trelawny.

      Burwood Is one of the few beaches now remaining around the island where Jamaicans have free access to the white sands and beautiful Caribbean sea, as the hunger for tourism development has led to the disappearance of more and more public beaches. In recent years disputes with persons who claimed ownership of Burwood Beach, as well as lack of action by the Trelawny Parish Council, left the beach an unsupervised, barren space for grateful locals to access the sea for various forms of relaxation, so the TEF announcement that it will upgrade the beach with sanitary and parking facilities, gazeebos and play areas was very welcome. Best of all, the TEF upgrade will not include either a fence or an entry fee, so the beach will  remain FREE for all.

      With SAVE OUR BEACHES activists still fighting to save Winnifred Beach in Portland and Little Dunns River in Ocho Rios from threatened upgrades by the Urban Deveopment Corporation (UDC) that will include fences and fees, the promised action by TEF sets a precedent I hope will be copied by the UDC.

ganja

GANJA GROWERS UNITE          As I write this column, a preparatory meeting of Jamaica’s ganja growers is taking place in Kingston to formalize the Ganja Future Growers & Producers Association (GFGPA). I am not at the meeting, but have received both an invitation and a copy of the Draft Proposal for setting up the organization. According to it,the formation of this organization has been led by the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Task Force, the National Alliance for the Legalization of Ganja, the Ganja Law Reform Coalition as partners and Community Consultants Ltd. as the Project Manager.

Prof. Archibald McDonald, Paul Burke, Delano Sievwright, Paul Chant

Prof. Archibald McDonald, Paul Burke, Delano Sievwright, Paul Chang

       As someone who has been part of organizations campaigning for legalization and decriminalization of ganja since the 1970s, the names of the persons associated with each of these organizations are unfamilar to me, apart from Paul Chang who came on board the Legalize Ganja committees in the 1980s when activists like attorneys Dennis Forsythe and the late Sandra Alcott were among our bold and outspoken ganja warriors. These days the campaign is headed by Paul Burke, one of the most senior and important members of the People’s National Party organization.

       Among other names and faces in the forefront of the ganja growers is another leading politician, Delano Sievwright of the Jamaica Labour Party. Utter respectability of the organization is assured by its host, Prof. Archibald McDonald,  the head of the University of the West Indies.

WHGFA2       Where, you may ask,, is RASTA in all this? So far, the lone Rasta whose name pops up is attorney Miguel Lorne (who seems to pop up in everything these days). He not only is a member of one of the aforementioned organizations, but recently set up a Western Hemp & Ganja Farmers Association (WHGFA) in Negril in association with Ras Iyah V – one of the leading Nyabinghi Rastafari – attended by a large number of Rastas. Presumably, or hopefully, several meetings were held prior to this announcement to organize Rastafari ganja growers into a strong association to campaign for RASTA Ganja Rights.

rasta3       For after all, was it not RASTA who has suffered for decades for promoting what these nice gray-haired gentlemen are now intending to legalize and commercialize? Surely there is a detailed document, a Position Paper, an Economic Blueprint, a Future Development Plan by and from RASTA that will be accepted as the foundation of the industry RASTA created, established and suffered imprisonment, brutality and worse for. I am really hoping this is so, but I’ve heard of none so far. Perhaps such documents will be introduced today.

       The proposal to establish the GFGPA describes a ‘National Council’ of 60 members very similar to the organization of a political party. The island will be divided into 4 ‘Chapters’, each of which will elect a President, VP, and Management committee of between 15-20 persons and send 4 members to the National Council. Composing this National Council, the founding organizations will have 12 seats  and their membership will never be renewed and reviewed as will membership by other organizations.

marleyONLY 7 RASTA MEMBERS       The Jamaica Agricultural Society will have 5 members. (Is this assuming that members of the JAS are ganja farmers?) Though listed separately, the small business community will have a total of 12 Council members (Micro, small medium enterprise – 5, agro producers – 3, and Small business – 2 members). Dividing it up still further, “Women Owners” will have 2 members. Out of 60 members on the National Council for legalization, growing, producing and earning from the Rasta Sacrament Ganja, RASTA will have only SEVEN members.

       I am hoping the discussion today and tomorrow will see the inequality in the proposal and adjust these numbers to make Rasta have a larger representation out of the 60 members.  I am also concerned that the Coalition requires all members to sign a document promising not to plant or grow ganja until the Government legalizes or decriminalizes it. Surely it is RASTA that will be restricted by this promise, as few of the other organizations have been growing ganja as RASTA has.  On top of that, the Coalition has invited the Police Force to patrol the meeting to ensure that no one smokes ganja in or near the building.   As I said, I am not at the meeting, but I know its outcome will be well-documented because it will undoubtedly form the basis of the next Jamaican election campaign. Watching and listening, with interest.

howell posterPINNACLE        Like a swan gliding smoothly across the surface while paddling furiously underwater, the Occupy Pinnacle Movement continues to display a calm exterior while battling to keep hold of the reins of the situation they birthed. In a strong letter to the Group’s FB page titled “Crabs Inna Barrel”, son Monty Howell laments the bitter disputes that have ravaged the group’s Facebook page, as well as the lack of political experience of the organizers now trapped in the strategic chess game being played by government. Having appointed three of the PNP’s most loyal and faithful members to handle the matter, the government has placed the matter in a procedural limbo, allegedly awaiting discovery of a clear paper trail from Leonard Howell‘s land purchase to Richard Lake’s title before taking any further action.

pinnacle 2       Meanwhile, the nexus of the RASTA activists claim for all 500 acres of Pinnacle rests on all involved agreeing about whether the fight is for ownership of the land by descendants of Leonard Howell, or ownership of the land as a heritage for the RASTA Nation at large. If the former is the case, then Howell’s descendants  insist they be allowed to continue fighting the battle without help from concerned (or misguided) Rasta activists of all stripes. If the latter, then the claim must be made for RASTA as an ‘indigenous’ national movement with a history deserving of being memorialized and replicated according to internationally accepted positions on Indigenous Cultural Heritage.The conflict between both sides must be welcome news for the developers, still assured that nothing will move their chief asset (and the obstacle to possible satisfactory resolution), the Minister of Youth & Culture.

       I am not part of the OCCUPY PINNACLE organization, have attended no meetings nor marched in the streets. As a journalist, I always give support as best I can for all good RASTA works, and OCCUPY PINNACLE has noble objectives that deserve my media support. However, experience has taught me that RASTA business is best approached from a distant perspective by ones such as I, until called for specific purpose. Thus, I wait with interest the outcome of this struggle now taking place, while always eager to update my readers on any news and information I receive and can share.

fairfield house july 23 2013

RGC – Fairfield House, May 23, 2013

RASTA IN ENGLAND       Sending BigUps and BLESSINGS to Ras Tony Tafari Thomas and Ras Robbie Shilliam, founders of the Rastafari Global Council (RGC) & Rastafari Council of Great Britain (RCGB) who were chief activists in preventing the sale of the Emperor’s House at Bath and converting it into a Rastafari HQ.

       The RCG has been offeirng a 12-week Rastafari Community Leadership Training Programme as one of several initiatives to organize and educate Rastafari in Britain to fully participate in and benefit from living in Britain and participating in political decision-making. Their FB page is a fountain of information and discussion on Rasta and African affairs, and is well worth a visit. Unfortunately, the group is not accepting more members on its page, as the Administrators keep a tight rein on posts to avoid sabotage and fifth columnists,while filling the page with positive proposals and knowledge.

       I sincerely hope the RGC truly becomes a Global Council for Rastafari. We need such strong examples and leadership, as Rastafari continues to grow as a strong international fellowship of humanity.

SABBATH BLESSINGS & LOVE

maskel 6

 

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Through RGG Specs RASTAFARI REPARATIONS        The topic this week is Reparations, about which I am famously (and infamously!) known for having written “Forgive Slavery, Forget Reparations” – a 2006 article that gained me not only further notoriety, but my first death threats. I had begun my article with the firm statement that the call for reparations was completely justified due to the horrors of the trans-Atlantic trade in Africans, their inhuman and brutal enslavement in the Americas and the free labour that developed and enriched Europe for 300 years. If ever there was a just cause, it was the need for a retribution – even perhaps revenge – for a most terrible act against humanity, it was for slavery. The call for Reparations is a basic principle of the Rastafari faith, whose principles I accept. JARM logo (2)

But, having taken up the Reparations banner from 2001 to 2007 in my effort to establish a Jamaica Reparations Movement (JaRM), the facts I encountered on both sides made me come to the conclusion of my article. I realize that, justified or not, getting governments and citizens of the European countries named to agree to and implement justified reparations, will be a long, drawn-out process that will only achieve further enmity between the two opposing sides and, worst of all, focus our attention on hoping that reparations will finance Rastafari’s true aim – the rehabilitation of Africa. Focusing on rebuilding the future was the advice Emperor Haile Selassie I gave to the people of Ethiopia after the Italian war.

I tend to follow the Emperor’s example in all things. emperor b&WIn addition, seeing the matter from the perspective of the Emperor’s life example, I come face to face with the Christ he worshipped, Iyesos Krystos, who advised that we should forgive our enemies, love those that hate us and seek to live in peace with all. A high and noble ideal, I agree, but one worth aspiring to. So I said, let us be the generous spirits in this matter and forgive those who enslaved us, seek friendships and partnerships with those who recognize their ancestral guilt and who desire to compensate us in a spirit of human love. This would give I&I a powerful step up on which to stand for further negotiations.

shango baku

Ras Shango Baku

OTHER VIEWS SURFACE      I have taken a lot of heat over my opinions, so it is good to read other views on Reparations now being expressed in Rastafari circles since the Caribbean nations joined to present a united claim. The matter is not as clear cut, nor unified, as it seems. Ras Shango Bako, a UK-based Rastafari author and philosopher, feels the current proposals – including those from Rastafari organizations in the region– do not go far enough and, citing the need for a common call for reparations from the very countries in which Rastafari was born and live, says reparations should begin first at home in the Caribbean. 

What we do have in common is a legacy of inhuman oppression by Caribbean governments – tantamount to torture and genocide in more extreme cases such as Coral Gardens (Jamaica), Dread Act (Dominica)]; social disenfranchisement, harassment, discrimination, ostracism and outcast status in others. That common legacy is a brief encapsulation of the worst aspects of chattel slavery, such as incidents in Guyana (1980s) where Rastafari in Canvas City were ‘hog-tied’ to moving vehicles and dragged through the streets by law enforcement officers.

slave saleThese and other heinous crimes against humanity need to be catalogued, listed and  publicized alongside the meritorious achievements of our first and second generations in the islands. Our collective history needs to be written and ‘re-membered’; firstly to substantiate our overwhelming case for local reparations; secondly to reinforce our initial demand for repatriation, and thirdly to shame those ruling regimes who have now climbed on our backs to beg for reparatory justice that is rightfully ours in the first place. Slavery reparations can be effectively viewed through the lens of Rastafari history.

Otherwise it becomes a hugely complex historical issue with little tangible bearing on the present. Our continuity in upholding and manifesting African culture, lore, spirituality and culture in the West is the unbroken thread that gives meaning to the issue of reparations from that time right through till the present. From this common position there can be no blur in the debate. As Marcus said, a people with- out knowledge (or memory) of themselves is as a tree without roots.”

bongowisely

Bongo Wisely Tafari

Bogo Wisely Tafari of the Caribbean Rastafari Organization (CRO), writing from Barbados after the meeting of the Caricom Reparations Commission, urges Rastafari to put the call for REPATRIATION as primary before the call for REPARATIONS.

The two issues cannot and must not be separated. Repatriation – The right of return is anchored in several bodies of international law; eg. the law of nationality as applied upon state succession; humanitarian law; human rights law and refugee law. The right of return has also been affirmed in numerous UN resolutions relating to other refugee cases and in domestic law. Rastafari embraces Repatriation as an aspect of Reparations as specified in section (iv) Article 158 of the UN’s DURBAN Declaration and Plan of Action…

Regionally the Caribbean Rastafari Organization (CRO) has written to the Caricom secretariat seeking assistance in formulating and implementing such a Repatriation Census in all the islands. Seeking for Repatriation should not deflect from the major objective of Reparations. However Rastafari needs to come up with a comprehensive sustainable development plan for settlement in Afrika which will be accepted and embraced by the AU and the various Afrikan leaders.

rebel-salute-650pxgirls2REPARATIONS FOR WHO?                    Who will benefit from Reparations, should Jamaica succeed in persuading any European countries to repair the debt and Caribbean nations agree on how to divide up the reparations between each country? Who are the ‘descendants of slavery’ who will benefit from Jamaican Reparations? Remember, Rasta is not the only Jamaica. There is another Jamaica also.

pinnacle flagPINNACLE                             The OCCUPY PINNACLE movement continues to attract support, physically and financially. Controversy has arisen, however, about lack of adherence to traditional Rastafari principles on the site, activities that would not normally take place around a Nyahbinghi Altar, the physical dress of females, etc. One issue concerns the banner flying on the Nyabinghi Tabernacle, which is not the approved Ethiopian flag of Rastafari, but the one that Howell flew with the Red on top and the Green below. Donisha Prendergast and her OCCUPY PINNACLE team from the Rastafari Youth Initiative Council are seen by some as establishing a new Rastafari Mansion with its own objectives and behaviours, as they challenge long-held principles of the movement while they boldly and bravely take possession of the land in Rastafari and Howell’s name.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has not yet replied, as she should already have done, to the questions on Pinnacle asked in Parliament by former Minister of Culture Olivia Grange. Perhaps she will answer them this coming Tuesday. We wait to hear. Visit the FaceBook page, as I do, if you wish to be informed about OCCUPY PINNACLE developments. I, and the Rastafari nation at home and abroad, continue to follow the story.  

monk 1ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX LENT continues. Egzhio O Marene Krystos.

RASTAFARI LIVES

 Through RGG SpecsRASTAFARI LIVES     Read an excellent column this week in the OBSERVER by Everton Pryce, in which he urges his fellow middle-class Jamaicans to face up to the fact that Rastafari is here to stay, an integral and immovable part of the Jamaican landscape, social structure and population. Noting the movement’s growth and progression from scorned to RASpected, he states that “…. we have witnessed over these many decades where the Rastafarian movement has remained the clearest expression of native wisdom in the creation of our own destiny and the demonstration of the innate structures of sophisticated thought that reside among the real people in the land. Indeed, money matters in these hostile economic times, but Jah — like God, Mohammed, etc – lives!”

EVERTON-PRYCE-new

Everton Pryce

Citing Rastafari’s growth from mountain hermit to university scholars, he continues: “In any event, the movement’s ideological fractiousness notwithstanding, it is doubtful whether we can refer to it any longer as a predominantly “Jamaican poor people protest social movement”. Many of today’s Rastas command wealth and star status; and there are more ‘baldhead’ committed Rastas now than ever before.” So true!

With this mounting body of evidence of the unique affection carried by many thousands of Jamaicans at home and abroad — and an even greater number of global citizens — for the Rastafarian movement, what weight is a Jamaican Government in the 21st Century willing to place on such loyalties to Jah, Ethiopia and to Haile Selassie in particular? …Are thorough-going orthodox Christian Cabinet ministers willing to facilitate the accommodation of the brethren and sistren, once and for all, over those issues of lingering concerns to the movement?” (Such as Coral Gardens, Pinnacle, Back-O-Wall, and repealing the ganja ‘records’?)

mottoPryce concludes: “ … The issue really boils down to one of tolerance, and we should not wait until the wrath of the Rastafarians surfaces again to seriously put into practice the message of our national motto. Jah lives! And there is nothing we can do to stop this.”  READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Jah-Rastafari-lives—but-the-tension-remains_16205127

WHGFA

Ras Miguel Lorne, Ras Iyah V

WESTMORELAND HEMP & GANJA FARMERS ASSOCIATION FORMED     News this week of formation of a group of Rastafari ganja farmers from Westmoreland, the part of Jamaica long famous for growing the sweetest ganja. Led by Ras Iyah V – one of the stalwarts, leaders and Elders of the movement — and Rasta lawyer Miguel Lorne (who pops up everywhere these days), they made some strong statements at the Negril launch. According to the GLEANER report:

Members of the newly formed Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers’ Association (WHGFA) say the official licence to grow and sell marijuana, upon legalisation, should be restricted to members of the Rastafari faith and lower socio-economic groups, who have been victimised for decades for cultivating the herb.

WHGFA2“We will not stand by and watch anybody outside of Rastafari and grass-roots people take over this product. And we make no apology,” association President Ras Iyah V declared during his address at the launch of the organisation at the MXIII Lawn in Negril on Sunday night.  “We are saying this loud and clear to the Government, we are saying it to society, and we are saying it to the international community. Otherwise, we will take to the streets and turn Jamaica upside down – and we make no apology,” he said. “Because we not going take baton lick and brutality and all of a sudden now when the legalisation aspect come, a some rich people come tek it ova – people who used to scoff and scorn at the very mention of the herb name ganja,” he added.

“The WHGFA’s objectives are to make sure that those who have paid the price – who have been going to jail, going to prison, getting the baton licks, who have been planting the herb and it get cut down by police and soldiers, and yet have been persistent with this product – that the rights of these individuals are protected.” READ THE FULL REPORT HERE: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140315/western/western1.html#.UyRR-nVCyio.facebook

21ROYAL ORDER OF RASTAFARI?        A Rasta in Italy wrote me suggesting that Rastafari could claim itself a Nation just as members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta do. According to Wikipedia, this group was founded in Jerusalem 1050 as a hospital to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, it became a military order under its own charter. Following the loss of Christian held territories of the Holy Land to Muslims, the Order operated from Rhodes (1310–1523), and later from Malta (1530–1798), over which it was sovereign.

black madonnaAlthough this state came to an end with the ejection of the Order from Malta by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Order as such survived. It retains its claims of sovereignty under international law and has been granted permanent observer status at the United Nations. The order is notable for issuing its own international passports for travel, postal stamps, along with its formal insignia, often portrayed as a white or gold Maltese cross. The order nominally invokes the Blessed Virgin Mary under the venerated Marian title of “Our Lady of Mount Philermos” as its patroness and spiritual intercessor. Today the order has about 13,000 members; 80,000 permanent volunteers; and 20,000 medical personnel including doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and paramedics in more than 120 countries to assist the elderly, handicapped, refugeed, children, homeless, those with terminal illness and also engaged to aid victims of natural disasters, epidemics and armed conflicts.

The ‘permanent observer status at the UN’ and ability to issue its own passport, stamps and insignia, lead me to invite discussion on the suggestion that Rastafari could qualify to identify similarly as a Nation, with similar benefits. It’s a thought, eh!

makedaWOMAN OF DISTINCTION       Those who know the US reggae music scene know of Makeda Dread Cheatam, also called Makeda Makossa-– the legendary Rastawoman who has for 30 years hosted the best annual reggae show in San Diego– the California city that LOVES reggae. So it will come as no surprise that she has been voted one of the 25 Most Influential Women in San Diego’s history. Here’s what they had to say about Sister Makeda.

“Makeda Dread Cheatom founded the World Beat Cultural Center in Balboa Park in 1985 where she has preserved the history of African and Indigenous cultures. She later created the Adams Avenue Theatre and serves as a DJ for 92.5 FM and 91X FM. Inducted into San Diego County’s Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012, she was recognized for being a “bridge builder.”

Here’s what she had to say about the distinction: Wow I received this honor from the people of San Diego. This award is for my mother, a maid for many years for this town San Diego and for my father who shined the service men’s shoes downtown and for all the San Diegans that had to leave the city because it was too conservative and unjust. But most of all this award is dedicated to you my brothers and sisters who stood by me and believed in me. When I pass to the realm of the ancestors I’ll feel blessed to leave you one of the most dynamic cultural centers in the US and a tribute to all the reggae legends that always live within us. RastafarI. Ashe.

ja celebration

Jamaica celebration

TPDCo NEGLECTING ITS DUTY!        The Daily GLEANER Editorial said it, so I cannot be criticized for bringing this up. The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) is not doing its work of developing Jamaica’s tourism product. “It is inconceivable,” says the GLEANER, “that of the approximately J$616 million budgeted for projects for the 2013-2014 financial year, only JM$94 million has been spent, while more than J$350 million has been spent on TPDCo salaries. Salaries for what? According to TVJ’s Prime Time News report aired on March 12, 2014, only $4.6m of $39m; $3.7m of $101m, and $13m of $114 million was spent on TPDCo projects in Kingston, Montego Bay, and Negril, respectively. Those in charge have been receiving salaries under false pretences and seem only to have a bunch of excuses to offer to the Public.”

T-shirtI can’t agree more. Looking at the massive sums allocated for TPDCo to spend on making Jamica’s tourism more attractive and how little they have spent, I can only speak as one of the many event organizers dying for lack of support from government to develop interesting sustainable events to attract tourists. I am shocked to see that TPDCo had JA$500 million to spend in 2013 that was just sittng unclaimed in its bank account, while projects like the Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival searched unsuccessfully for financial support to provide the international promotion to position the event as another major summer event and a development of the tourism ‘product’.

OCCUPY 2pinnacle 3THURSDAY LUNCH CLUB AT PINNACLE                 As the Pinnacle development continues to attract interest and supporters, a Thursday Lunch Club has been happening for the past 3 weeks that follows a tradition started by Mr. Howell for speakers and cultural persons to interact with the community. Visitors, local and foreign, authors, film makers and other media expand the experience. Here are some pics.

Meanwhile, the individual posting on FaceBook under the title of ‘the Rastafari Millenium Council’ should seek unity with the OCCUPY PINNACLE movement which is doing good for Rastafari, despite all of I&I previous mistakes, blunders and errors of action, inaction and ego that have brought so much disunity and lack of achievement to the movement’s progress.

Donisha Prendergast is a brave youth with the warrior spirit of Nanny. May JAH continue to grant her the strength and wisdom to continue her blessed work.

home1All is done by the inspiration, example, guidance and BLESSING of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I.  PRAISE H.I.M.

 

Pinnacle – the Occupation

cropped-through-rgg-specs.jpgOCCUPY PINNACLE is a reality. A growing, loyal and committed band of Rastafari SoulJAHs have settled into Pinnacle, clearing the land so as to discover the remains of Leonard Howell’s historic settlement and the thousands of people who helped him establish Jamaica’s first indigenous self-development community using Rastafari principles and livity. So far they have discovered remains of dwellings, a bakery, wells and numerous artefacts which will become the foundation of the proposed Pinnacle Museum.

pinnacle 2

Clearing land for planting

Donisha Prendergast continues to inspire the activism that has made Occupy Pinnacle the most important happening in Jamaica today and her team of young Rastafari show a determination and a confidence that encourages support . Now identified and acknowledged as the place where the First Rasta developed the First Rasta Village, Pinnacle has brought about a unification of Rastafari of all Mansions, and all nations. Support has come through social media from Rastafari around the world, including some notable supporters such as Nandor Tanckzos – the Rasta who made history as a Green Party member of the New Zealand Parliament.

1st Pinnacle Meeting - PM, Lisa Hanna, Dahlia Harris.

1st Pinnacle Meeting – PM, Lisa Hanna, Dahlia Harris.

The elephant in the Pinnacle room is, of course, the presence of the Minister of Culture in the dual role of head of the department and agencies under which Rastafari matters are handled, and as the common-law wife of the man who is presently selling and developing the land at Pinnacle. It is hard for Rastafari to negotiate with the Government while this anomaly exists, as the Prime Minister is fiercely protective of Lisa Hanna – the young fledgling under her political wing whom some say is being groomed as a future Prime Minister. Her ‘husband’ Richard Lake’s Island Homes can show title to his ownership of the land he legally purchased some 30 years ago and he has stated (through his lady partner’s comments on TV) that Rastas can purchase from him if they want land at Pinnacle.

Visitors

Visitors

A search is underway through the land titles records to track the ownership of the land after Howell’s purchase in 1935, as it is know that he lived on Pinnacle until finally being driven off in 1954. After the repeated raids by police under orders from the colonial and own own indigenous governments, nothing remains of Howell’s records of purchase except the oral accounts of those who lived there – many of whom still remain. One incontestable fact is that several bodies were buried there, showing proof of ownership as bodies can only be buried on owned land. What will happen to Mr. Lake’s purchase and title, if it can be shown that transactions since Howell have been illegal, unjust and corrupt?

i-octane I- OCTANE LAUNCHES NEW RASTA ALBUM    I Octane launched his new Album “My Journey” this week, and it is a great new Rasta album. I call it a ‘Rasta album’ because of the sentiments expressed in the tracks, with his hits like “Love You Like I Do“, new tracks such as ‘Babylon’, “Jah Jah Warrior”, “I Will Be There”  and collaborations with Gentleman, Alaine and KyMani Marley. My favourite track and one which I’m sure will become one of the first hit singles, is “Mama”, a loving, emotional tribute to his mother. “A street-side Mama sell to raise me, and she neva bring in a stepfada” was his joyful adoration of his mother, whom he brought onstage at the launch to serenade her personally. I-Octane says the album “… has served as a therapeutic way for me to voice not only the blessings, but the frustrations as well. My goal is to find ways that you, as the listener, can share in my experiences and use it to help you on your journey.” It’s a journey well worth taking, with danceable music that is a listening pleasure.  Rastafari sign and seal, Red, Gold and Green, You will know that I am Selassie Warrior.

Green & Gold on the Red Carpet

Black, Green & Gold on the Red Carpet

BLACK GOLD!!!    The Lupita Oscars are finally over and her fans can breathe sighs of relief to see her clutching that little gold man, the symbol of the highest excellence in the Hollywood film industry. Lupita Nyong’o, the unknown actress, whose  role in ’12 Years A Slave” –the equally-awarded Best Film of 2014 – brought her to global attention and the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, became an icon when her stunning Black Beauty was showcased in a series of glamorous Red Carpet gowns from leading designers that highlighted the deep chocolate colour of her skin, embellished by a simple natural hairstyle and modest make-up that were a complete contrast to the usual crop of starlets who decorate the Awards events. After a very long absence, the phrase ‘Black is Beautiful” was once again on everyone’s lips and social media pages.

Who would have thought that in all the welcome attention to Lupita for being not only a good enough actress to have been nominated for an Oscar, but also an educated woman raised by educated African parents, whose grace and modest composure added yet another layer to her star status, there would be outrage from a vocal section of the public protesting the very things that gained Lupita her fame. lupita 3

Believe it or not, there were some who objected to all the attention being given to Lupita’s skin colour, hairstyle and facial beauty, not to mention her Yale University education, her Professor father and charity executive mother. They criticized the world media for ‘just noticing that Black is beautiful’ and urged them to cease and desist, since they knew it all the time and didn’t need others pointing it out. Their anger was directed especially at the white media, whose attention to and adoration of Lupita’s Black beauty and style assured that the wider public knew who was the little black girl competing against well-known blonde, white nominees for the prestigious award.

Thankfully, their bitterness did nothing to deter Lupita’s ascendancy and eventual Oscar win. Just goes to show how true is the old adage: You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please ALL of the people ALL of the time. RISE ON, Lupita!!!

Photo: Eve Crane

Photo: Eve Crane

FEEDBACK     My story about the documentary on the Chicago 10 anti-Vietnam War demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic convention, brought an interesting response from a reader, Stephen Smith, who shared some photos and the following comments: I have pictures that where taken by historical photographer Eve Crane of the inside of the Democratic convention as the riots occurred outside. She was also involved in photographing the Black Panther Party … She took pictures of Bobby Seal with James Baldwin when Bobby was in jail sitting across the table from one another…pictures of Huey Newton as he talked with his lawyer while on trial in Alameda. I know Eve personally and have represented her body of work on several occasions. I contacted The Huey P. Newton foundations shortly after I met Eve, as none of her photo’s had very been published. David Hilliard contacted me and thus began a long friendship between all of us.

Bobby Seale Photo: Eve Crane

Bobby Seale
Photo: Eve Crane

I must mention the Black Panther Party support of the gay rights movement in the late 60’s. Not many realize that the first convention on gay rights in New York shortly after Stone Wall utilized the BPP 10 point program as their base “What We Want & When Do We Want It”. The convention added 6 more points to the program and adopted them as the frame work for what we all know now is the LGBT rights movement. There are audio tapes of Huey talking about the inclusion not only of the Brown Panther Party (Hispanics), but also of the homosexuals, as they too where being suppressed. It also serves to let the public understand that while the BPP was a Black organization it was inclusive of many different types of people & the main message was that oppression & suppression of any group or class of people was worth fighting for(Power to All the People).

The Black Panther Party morphed after Huey’s death and the foundation was started. The historical records & archives of the BPP are located at Stanford University. The Huey P. Newton Foundation made me an honorary member of the BPP in 2012 for my work in trying to correct the misconception & misinformation that was generated about the party at the time, and I could be any more humbled by the honor. I thought I would share this with you as seem to enjoy the movie so much to write about it.”  Thanks for sharing Steve!

Blessings to all Ethiopian Orthodox CHRISTians observing the Lenten Fast.

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Egzhio O Mahrene Krystos! Egzhiabher Ymassagan! 

Of Ports, Pinnacle & Paradise

Little-Goat-Island--A-SCOAL INSTEAD OF CORALS     This week brought the shocking news that the proposed mega-port logistics hub to be build by Chinese company CHEC will include a coal-fired electricity generating plant. If the news of the total destruction of the land, fish sanctuaries and coral reefs is not enough, Jamaican citizens will experience the smoke, ash and waste products from the world’s worst fossil fuel. With all the sunshine and land available, I wonder whether China could not have been persuaded to use some of its millions of surplus solar panels to construct a solar power plant for the controversial project. I wonder too if the proposed ‘Chinatown” city for the project’s Chinese staff will also be powered by this plant.

The smoke rising from the coal furnaces will either blow east to Kingston, west to St. Catherine or directly up to the Sligoville hills, and Pinnacle. It all does not look good to me. But clearly the people elected to rule Jamaica feel certain that in years to come Jamaica will be happy with this mega-project, with prosperous jobs, a thriving economy, smiles on our faces and millions of Chinese tourists. I hope they are right, and that I am having delusions of a Jamaica wrecked by this enormous destruction of a major part of our island. Surely one day soon our beloved Prime Minister will have a face-to-face talk with us in which she will show us all the future she sees will come from our country’s current love affair with China. I am looking forward to that, hopefully soon.

Nathaniel Hibbert

Nathaniel Hibbert

ANOTHER RASTAFARI LEADER    Another of the Trinity of Rastafari’s founders, Nathaniel Hibbert, is rising from obscurity via social media. With Howell and Dunkley, Hibbert’s name is always called when the beginnings of Rastafari are explored.  Where was his ‘Pinnacle’ where he spread the Gospel of Rastafari? More is being uncovered about this great and brave leader.

Meanwhile, what next for Pinnacle? The first month of OCCUPY PINNACLE has passed without confrontation, while several Rastafari have been clearing the land, discovering the ruins of buildings and dwellings and actually occupying the land. While matters rest in the hands of the Ministry of Land and the team of 3 appointed by the Prime Minister to ‘look into’ Pinnacle matters, we are all waiting to hear what will come next from Donisha Prendergast and her team of youths leading the movement.

A post on the OCCUPY PINNACLE page details a 2006 proposal by the Nyabinghi Ancient Council for the development of the site as a National Heritage Site. Presented to then-PM Portia Simpson-Miller during her former administration, the proposal calls for:

  • A Worship Centre – an authentic Rastafari Tabernacle to be considered as a Rastafari holy grounds, where Rases from all over the world can pilgrimage and worship;
  • A Library where students and scholars can develop the art of Rastology;
  • A Museum to showcase historical artifacts and information about the Rastafari Movement; 
  • A Cultural Centre for performing arts and craft where musicians and artists can contribute and build their talents for a source of income;
  • A Holistic Centre for the study of herbal medicine and health care;
  • A Garden Park for organic farming and beautification.

The proposal states that the principal objectives of such a development would improve and keep up the standard of Livity in Rastafari culture throughout the Globe, and to bring more income from the tourist industry into the country.

pinnacle 2The Nyabinghi Order feels that as the Tabernacle already built on the site is the property of the Nyahbinghi Order, it would be good to continue under the leadership of the High Priest of the Nyahbinghi Order and the Ancient Council in order to uphold the tradition, balance and integrity that is needed to preserve the site within its development into a National Monument. This indeed could be a good place to begin.

Meanwhile, as Marley sings: “Me no know how we and dem a-go work it out.” This applies to the residents who built mansions on land they were sold as part of an upscale housing enclave, but who are now faced with the inevitability of Pinnacle becoming the Rastafari National Heritage center. Sadly, there’s no turning back on this development and come it will, hopefully only by peaceful and diplomtically-argued methods, rather than the confrontation towards which some seem headed. With the nation united that Pinnacle is part of Jamaican history and heritage, this should be an easy matter to resolve.

players_mobe_thALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE   I spent some time this Sabbath watching CHICAGO 10, a documentary on the trial of ten Americans who led the revolutionary demonstrations against the Vietnam War at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, USA. After seeing it, I would qualify it as the best documentary I have ever seen, a moving film that shows the steps, actions and effects of a modern urban revolution led by people passionately convinced that ‘Might cannot overcome Right’ and that only by their actions could their country’s leaders be persuaded to end an unjust and unwinnable war.

chicago 10Watching animated recreation of the courtroom drama, the defiant humour which which accused answered cross-examination, the shocking gagging and shackling of Black Panther leader Bobby Seal (the one Black defendant, whose demand to represent himself was disallowed by the stern, autocratic Judge Julius Hoffman), and the shocking actuality footage of unarmed young Americans being mercilessly beaten with batons and gassed by helmeted policemen armed with rifles as they gathered and marched to show their country’s leaders their demand for “Peace NOW!”, made clear the price paid by those brave enough to confront an entrenched system convinced its way is ‘Right”. It’s a high price to pay indeed, as the film showed, and it should be watched by all those impatient for ‘revolution’ as a means of change. But, as Bobby Seale says as he addresses a crowd after his successful appeal: “All power to the People’ who actively participate. 

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Paradise Jamaica

NEW FILM COMMISSIONER     And speaking of film, interviews are currently being conducted to find a new JAMPRO Film Commissioner. The last one, Rhodes Scholar and intrepid Antartic expeditioner Kim-Marie Spence departed late last year for further studies in Australia, leaving no explanation but a gap to be filled. Academic qualifications are sought by the HR Department of the Ministry of Industry, Business & Commerce under which Jamaican film production rests, though sadly the high academic qualification of the departed Commissioner showed that the experience of hands-on training and excellent international contacts don’t necessarily accompany a degree. The Government considers Film a business, not a creative art, and the role of the Film Commissioner is to attract major film business to Jamaica to hire local staff and resources, just like the Tourism Ministry attracts foreign hotel chains to hire local housekeeping and light managerial staff.

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Irish TV film crew

Most films come to Jamaica of their own accord, usually small documentary productions that pay JAMPRO US$300 for a permit to import their equipment to film their personal ‘Jamaica story’. The job of attracting productions to Jamaica has become difficult with the attractive tax benefits being offered by other island locations. But Jamaica has something the other’s don’t – an international reputation as a beautiful Paradise, home of a unique culture, music and people that everyone wants to experience and film makers want to share. So the US$300 films keep coming, justifying the existence of the JAMPRO Film Commissioner and the Customs Brokers who actually assist the film makers to bring their equipment in and out.

Wisdom suggests that Jamaica should tap resources in C.H.A.S.E.,TPDCo, the TEF, JIS and CPTC to finance some local film productions – not just feature films, but documentaries and a reality TV series or two. If only there was an agency interested in copying the Cuban Film Institute which does just that – financing the production of films by its great film makers and earning money by sales and distribution of them to make more.  Should I continue to dream on?

“Blessed be the Lord JAH, my strength, who teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight.” PSALM 144