Wed | Sep 26, 2018

Go beyond Coral Gardens apology

Published:Wednesday | April 12, 2017 | 12:00 AM


There can be no question about the vitally important contributions that tourism makes to the Jamaican economy.

One interesting aspect of our marketing of Jamaica's tourism product is the usage of the image and likeness of Rastafarians. It seems that Bob Marley or some other Rastafarian sporting a spliff has become Jamaica's unofficial flag. Some would be forgiven for thinking that this was how things have always been, but a quick glance in history reveals that our treatment of Rastas has been anything but mellow.

The events of April 12, 1963 at Coral Gardens, which have subsequently been dubbed Bad Friday, saw members of this much maligned group of 'black-heart men' being subjected to the full force of the State's brutality. Some were beaten, the hair of some trimmed, while others were killed. Some were even arrested for ganja spliffs.

Today, some 54 years later, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has rightfully apologised to the Rastafarian community for the actions of a then Jamaica Labour Party-led government. This apology is just the start of a process that must lead to the full embracing of Rastafari as a part of Jamaica's authentic identity.

We can start by perhaps recruiting members of this community into the security forces and exempting the requirements for shaved heads.