GANJA – The People’s Heritage

 

coptics

Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church members

In  one of those discussions that happen when good friends get together, the topic rolled around to RASTA business, or the lack of it. My recent article on the Coptics had got a lot of attention, first from those who remembered that brave group of ganja warriors, and then from people who had never heard of their noble adventures 40 years ago to liberate the herb and make it a major source of Jamaica’s income.

The conversation turned to the current activity by government to legalize ganja (or is it just decriminalize medicinal ganja?) and we realized that none of us were happy with the proposals being put forward in the ongoing meetings being held or the committees being set up. Why? Because it turns out that none of us agree that Government should be in charge of ganja business.

None of us like the fact that the committee organized by Government proposes that all ganja farmers will sell their ganja to government, who will then handle retail sales and exports. But why? If ganja is to be sold as legally as bananas, why must Government control all sales? Why is it not possible for ganja farmers to pay Government for a license to grow and then pay taxes, just as cigarette manufacturers do? Why should we hand over our ganja to government, especially to committees of people who never carried the social and legal burden of keeping the ganja flame alight, but who were part of the system of brutality, imprisonment, social and job ostracism that we ganja growers and users have suffered all these years?

marijuana-fieldWHY NOT?       For instance, if I develop a special strain of ganja and I have a buyer in a country where ganja is legal such as Colorado, Ecuador or Holland, why would I not be able to sell direct to them after paying government for my license and the relevant taxes? For sure, I would be reluctant to let anyone take my ganja from me, price and sell my valuable product.

We are specially concerned that the legalization of ganja is being organized by people who used to persecute us for using, growing, selling ganja, who now present themselves to us as our saviours. We are uncomfortable at the fact that none of us were called to the table for the first-ever meeting on legalization.

So we all gave the matter some thought and decided to create a Petition to state our position to Government. We want to keep ganja in the hands of the people of Jamaica, not the politicians. Instead of parish committees being set up along the order of political party groups, we want to see Certified Accountants being appointed to head Cannabis Councils in each Parish. These accountants would handle ganja as a business, license producers as individuals and companies, and supervise the payment of taxes in the same way that all Jamaican companies are licensed and pay taxes. Ganja producers would then be as free to run their business as all other Jamaican farmers.

Coral Gardens Survivor

Coral Gardens Survivor featured in movie “Rockers”, died on “BAD Friday”

BROKEN PROMISES       You see, we don’t trust Government to fulfill its promises to RASTA. Look how long ago the Prime Minister of this Government promised to set up a Committee to oversee and pay reparations to the survivors of the brutal and unjust Coral Gardens massacre. This was an attempt to wipe out RASTA from Jamaica, for which there has been no apology or retribution, despite many appeals, marches in the hot sun and annual commemorations. One of the most prominent Coral Gardens survivors died on Good ‘BAD’ Friday, a sad event that served to remind RASTA of the empty promise made by PM Portia Simpson-Miller when RASTA embraced her at a 2013 UWI conference before she set off to attend the 50th anniversary meeting of the African Union in Ethiopia – RASTA homeland!!!

pinnacleLook at what has happened with Pinnacle where, after brave and outspoken efforts to persuade Government to correct the injustice done to Leonard Howell by restoring to RASTA the lands which were confiscated and the first RASTA village destroyed, there is only an empty silence. Ignoring the corruption so clearly evident in the fact that the Minister of Culture is common-law wife of the current owner of Pinnacle and her common-law brother-in-law is vice-chairman of the national heritage committee under which the matter falls, the PM simply moved the matter to a committee chaired by three leading members of the PNP.

With no further discussion, this committee moved the matter to the Ministry of Lands, giving us hope that the Ministry would trace the Pinnacle land titles dating from Howell to the present owner. Instead, all that the Minister of Lands (another very senior PNP executive) has done is to announce that Government has agreed to purchase six lots of land, as proposed by the previous JLP government. No word about research into the Pinnacle titles, and no further action to remove either the Minister of Culture or her common-law brother-in-law from their supervisory positions on this important RASTA matter.  (The matter has not been helped by the ongoing battle by some misguided individuals claiming, with no authority, to be RASTA ‘leaders’.)

So we RASTA are not confident that legalization of our Green Gold – that we have shed our red blood for! – by Government will have any greater sympathy for, or responsibility to, RASTA . We have suffered enough, and long enough. Governments, on both sides of the fence, have shown they are not to be trusted where RASTA is concerned. We cannot leave this important and valuable resource in the hands of the same Government that has persecuted us for ganja all these years. They have not even showed good faith with a promise to wipe the records of those who have suffered imprisonment and hold ‘records’ for personal use of the sacred herb. That would be a sign that they overstand the heart of the matter, but they don’t.   So we are posting our petition to the Prime Minister, and we ask you to sign it.

powerPEOPLE POWER        As you think about it, here’s some information I found in this week’s Guardian about how the people of Iceland recently took power from the rulers and into their own hands.

One of the demands during the protests that followed – and that resulted in getting rid of the government, the central bank manager and the head of the financial authority – was that we would get to rewrite our constitution. “We” meaning the 99%, not the politicians who had failed us. Another demand was that we should have real democratic tools, such as being able to call directly for a national referendum and dissolve parliament.

“As an activist, web developer and poet, I helped create a political movement from the various grassroots movements in the wake of the crisis. We had no leaders, but rotating spokespeople; we did not define ourselves as left or right but around an agenda based on democratic reform, transparency and bailing out the people, not the banks.

“We vowed that no one should remain in parliament longer then eight years and our movement would dissolve if our goals had not been achieved within eight years. We had no money, no experts; we were just ordinary people who’d had enough and who needed to have power both within the system and outside it.

“Our constitution has been rewritten by the people for the people. A constitution is such an important measure of what sort of society people want to live in. It is the social agreement. The foundation for the constitution was created by 1,000 people randomly selected from the national registry. We elected 25 people to put that vision into words. The new constitution is now in the parliament. We are strong, the power is ours: we are many, they are few. We are living in times of crisis. Let’s embrace this time for it is the only time real changes are possible by the masses.”

Jamaica can learn a lot from Iceland.

JAMAICAN PEOPLES CANNABIS COUNCIL Petition  Click on link to sign.

http://www.change.org/petitions/prime-minister-hon-portia-simpson-miller-license-and-approve-these-steps-for-legalization-of-marijuana?share_id=ooBRacPJVO&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

 

jah love

 

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Cayman Break

 

IMG-20140411-01580TAKING A BREAK    I’ve been in Grand Cayman for the past few days, taking a well-deserved break from Jamaica’s problems.  It’s my first visit, invited as part of a team of entertainers and media for the 2014 Cayman Spring Splash presented by Youngblood Productions, and I’ve had an eye-opening look at the surprising contrasts between this Caribbean nation and my home Jamaica.

The Cayman Islands used to be a dependency of Jamaica, governed as another part of our British colonial system. However, at Independence, the Cayman Islands chose to remain as a British colony and still retains that status. Cayman also enjoys tax free status, hence the higher standard of living of all, but I still wonder how Cayman is so much more advanced in simple ways that Jamaica should be. People obey the speed limit, stash their garbage, and mostly live without fear of petty crime. There are few fences, actual or social, and Jamaica’s reggae music plays continually from radio stations and relaxation spaces everywhere.

IMG-20140406-01474Little touches show the difference. Take for instance, the Cayman policy that preserves their native turtles. Jamaica’s turtle population died out when development came to our beaches and turtle nests were raided for eggs by beach boys to sell to tourists. When baby turtles hatched and turned instinctively towards the light, they headed towards the lights of the hotels on the beach, while any survivors that grew large enough soon became lampshades, belts and other tortoise shell ornaments.

IMG-20140406-01454

Columbus landing marker

In Cayman hotels must by law turn off their lights at night during turtle hatching season. Turtle shell ornaments are illegal and turtles are a tourist attraction, so the natural sea life is preserved. I saw more fish in the sea in Cayman than I have ever seen in Jamaican waters and the abundant sea life is part of the island’s attractions. Another impressive fact is that few hotels are all-inclusive, so restaurants and entertainment spots off property are well supported as part of the tourism product.

IMG-20140411-01572Among the magnificent mansions that line the main roads, there is always pride of place for the original wooden Cayman houses with pastel paint and gingerbread trim that have been there for up to 100 years, maintained as part of the nation’s beauty. The sight made me think what Spanish Town or Port Antonio could look like with the same thoughtfulness and pride! Roads are well maintained, no potholes. At one spot being dug up for a new road I saw why: the asphalt is 6 inches thick, not just a thin black ‘icing’ spread over marl.

On board 'Keepin It Reel' with Big John of Slackem Charters

On board ‘Keepin It Reel’ with Big John of Slackem Charters

Cayman is truly a tourism island with an emphasis on water sports. Spending a day on board a super deep sea fishing yacht anchored off a sand bar so we could swim with the stingrays, seeing a young child pick up starfish from the sea floor, admiring a beautiful conch shell I found on the beach, all made me realize how much Cayman life is tied to the sea. There are many accessible and free beaches all around the island and sea craft of all kinds are everywhere.

camana bayThere was a lot that impressed me in Cayman. But most impressive of all was the Camana Bay development – a visionary new city created by US Billionare Ken Dart that surpasses any I have seen anywhere in the world. Think upscale Palm Beach mixed with Fifth Avenue, Manhattan in a setting rivaling the beauty of Jamaica’s North Coast, and you will have Camana Bay.

IMG-20140408-01562My first sight was at night, as the concert was held on the grassy Camana Bay entertainment field with its own helicopter pad beside the man-made lagoon and marina. Beautiful by night with the buildings lit up, it was even more beautiful when I visited by day, first by deep-sea fishing yacht to pick up a passenger at the marina, then the following day on foot to explore its many spaces.

IMG-20140408-01560Ground floor shops, offices and restaurants have balcony apartments on top with a 2nd floor swimming pool overlooking the marina. Fountains spurt in strategic corners, streams flow beside walkways, flowering vines flow down the sides of buildings and you can recharge your electric car in the basement parking lot. A great deal of innovative design has gone into making Camana Bay a spectacular 21st Century city with artistic touches everywhere and a cultural programme that attracts residents and visitors. The open spaces on land invite relaxation, while the lagoon and marina give Camana Bay a water-based option for fun.

Childrens art exhibition

Childrens art exhibition

The Dart family earned their fortune by inventing and manufacturing the foam plastic cups we all use.  Ken Dart has invested some of his financial resources in Grand Cayman, with Camana Bay being just one of his several major projects that include a massive new hotel. Before Camana Bay construction started, Dart created nurseries growing the trees and plants that would eventually be needed, thus, he can plant a highway of flowering trees to beautify the meridian of a new highway passing his new hotel. If only Jamaica had such a developer!  It’s the kind of place everyone would wish to live.

acaymanIt was a pleasure to see the relaxed prosperity of this small Caribbean nation, such a contrast to the fear and economic uncertainty of Jamaica today. I truly enjoyed my short break from ‘reality’ and definitely plan to return.

maskel2EOTC TROUBLES       When Marxist dictator Mengistu took power in Ethiopia, he broke the Canon Law of the EOTC by removing the sitting Patriarch (the EOTC equivalent of a Pope) and appointing a new one. The Archbishop of the Western Hemisphere, beloved Abuna Yesehaq, objected to the breaking of the Canon Law and ‘removed’ himself AND the members of the EOTC Churches he had established in the West from the governorship of the Head Office. The faithful members, especially of the Jamaican and Bronx churches, sided with and supported Abuna Yesehaq’s stand and continued operating without the official sanction of the EOTC in Ethiopia. However, some Jamaican priests did not agree with the Archbishop’s action and established another venue where they have held EOTC communion services since then.

The controversial Patriarch died recently, having been predeceased by Abuna Yesehaq (who is buried at Maxfield Avenue), and a new Patriarch has been appointed. Now the head office of the Church in Ethiopia has sought to bring the Jamaican church into the fold again and has appointed Jamaican EOTC priests who did not agree with Archbishop Yesehaq’s actions, to take over the Maxfield Avenue building and operations of the church in Jamaica. Despite a Jamaican court case that ruled that the present administrators should hand over the church property to those appointed by the Head Office, this was opposed by some Church members leading to recent activity at Maxfield Avenue, where keys to the office and church documents were siezed under Police supervision and belongings of residents of the care home on the premises put outside (though later replaced until the end of Lent). The change has been inevitable, but not easy for the Maxfield Avenue faithful.

howellPINNACLE          There is uncertainty about the status of  Pinnacle and also the OCCUPY PINNACLE movement.  The Government has approved the allocation of the original 5 lots which will be under the control of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, on the board of which still sits one of the Pinnacle real estate developers. There is as yet no notification or plan of how these lots will be developed or by whom.  On the other side, a major issue is how to find a solution to the question of WHO are actually the authorized and accepted leaders of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica and therefore qualified to represent RASTA in any or all the necessary forums.

Meanwhile, the Howell Family continues their legal battle to reclaim the entire Pinnacle Property once owned by their father Leonard Howell, and fund-raising continues for the ongoing campaign.

ganjaGANJA REFORM       The Government has clearly already set in place the actions and people necessary to enable the legalization and/or decriminalization of ganja. However,  I continue to insist that the first action should be the wiping of the records of all those convicted for personal use. It should not be difficult to identify and clear the records of those to  benefit, as the Police have  the information  and an efficient computerized service. It doesn’t seem to be on the agenda, so let me say:  WIPE THE RECORDS!!!  CORRECT THE PAIN BEFORE YOU BANK THE GAIN!!!

emperor 3

 BLESSINGS & LOVE

 

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

 

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.