RASTAFARI 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!”
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’?)
Pryce 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
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.
“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
ROYAL 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.
Although 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!
WOMAN 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.
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.”
I 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’.
THURSDAY 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.