Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Rastafari used HIM’s visit for protest, celebration

Published:Tuesday | April 25, 2017 | 4:00 AM
Ras IvI
Mel Tewahade reads a letter from Dr Clive Kindle at the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre, UWI, Mona, on Friday.

Ras IvI who, along with Sister Mitzie, is researching Haile Selassie's visit to Jamaica, presented a picture of a Rastafari community that was prepared for the April 21-23, 1966, visit but not for the purpose that the State had in mind.

Speaking at the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre, UWI, Mona, on Friday, Ras IvI spoke about the brutalisation of Rastafari in Jamaica for fighting against a whitewashed Christianity and proclaiming a black God. Compounding that was the use of marijuana, Ras IvI saying that the objective was to get rid of Rasta and ganja. Part of that was, on Selassie's visit, to get him to say he was not God.

On the other hand, Rastafari said it was their opportunity to "tell God what dem a do we dung ya".

Placards were made, clothing prepared ("no red, gold, and green never ina no 'aberdashery a Jamaica") and the choicest herbs selected. "God a come. Is not just a king a come," Ras IvI said. "When the plane come with the red, gold, and green, people say, 'Rastafari!'"

He emphasised that the visit placed Rastafari in a position of prominence never experienced before. Also, when Haile Selassie was prompted to speak about not being the son of God, Ras IvI said that the response was that was is not in the habit of interfering with people's beliefs.

Mel Tewahade, in addition his documentary being shown on last year's visit to Jamaica by Prince Ermias

Sahle-Selassie, read a letter from Dr Clive Kindle, who had extensive interaction with Haile Selassie when he worked in agricultural education in Ethiopia. He said that Selassie took a 12th-century country into the 20th century in 40 years.

"I have never associated with a nicer gentleman," Kindle wrote.

A number of persons, including the UWI's Dr Michael Barnett, who hosted the commemorative event, were honoured, and Sister Mitzie did the official thank yous, encouraging Rastafari to emulate Haile Selassie.

- M.C.