COAL 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.
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.
The 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.
ALL 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.
Watching 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.
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.
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