Ishmael Muhammad passionate about the truth
Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
On Sunday, October 19, Jamaica will host several thousand people from the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and parts of Europe at the Million Man March's 19th anniversary celebration. Earlier this week, Ishmael Muhammad and an advance party from the Nation of Islam (NOI) visited the island to make preparations for the significant visit.
Already, most of the capital's hotels are fully booked as several hundred people prepare to arrive for the event scheduled to be held at the National Arena in Kingston, starting at noon. Muhammad stresses that, though the target is men, it will be a celebration for the entire family.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Muhammad, who is an assistant to NOI head Louis Farrakhan, said Jamaica was chosen for a number of reasons, including the fact that Farrakhan's roots are here and the island is regarded as a leader among Caribbean nations. "Just as the physical heart of the body pumps the life fluid into it, so does Jamaica in the Caribbean. You have produced many great minds from Marcus Garvey to Bob Marley, and Minister Farrakhan chose the Caribbean and Jamaica because he feels he owes it for helping to nurture his development into the man he is," Muhammad said.
But of equal significance is Farrakhan's view that the Caribbean is a productive element in the global society that is now being made into a playground for the world's middle class, rich and super-rich. "There is a trend in the Caribbean where land and citizenships are being sold as foreign investment," Muhammad said, adding that loss of land means destruction of a people's future. "Land is a pathway to wealth, and we cannot hope that foreign investment will provide the jobs that are needed, so we cannot allow the Caribbean to become the playground of Europe, Asia and elsewhere. To that end, the young people of Jamaica must be encouraged to use the land for farming to feed ourselves and not depend on imported foods," he said.
Muhammad said another important reason for the choice is that we are facing a time of great troubles and uncertainties among black people (men in particular) and the NOI leader will deliver a message of guidance, direction, self-sufficiency, unity, self-love, and self-respect among the race. He noted that as it was at the beginning, so is the message today.
"The message remains consistent with that given to Minister Farrakhan 19 years ago by Honourable Elijah Muhammad, born out of a vision that the ugly, negative portrayal in the black family could destroy it," Muhammad said. It was a time when films highlighted black men as criminals and low-life savages and the NOI leader saw it fitting to call on men to give the world a different picture of themselves.
"The black man was charged to be a builder of the community, be responsible, and begin a time of atonement and responsibility. It is for us to develop a better future so that we don't depend on others for what we need, and it is as applicable today as it was then," said Muhammad.
He said the first march was successful because women supported it and they are critical to the success of men. So the event does not exclude them, on the contrary, it is a time for the entire family.
But the gathering comes even as Jamaica struggles with the effects of the dreaded chikungunya virus and the world is on high alert for the spreading Ebola virus. Like many other religious leaders, Muhammad sees the two maladies as signs of the times as he points to end-time Biblical prophecies that portend, "... famines, wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes, children disobeying/murdering parents and pestilence. We are at the end of something. When you see these things, it's the beginning of something else, the end of the present world order and a fulfillment of prophecy," he opined.
However, Muhammad said persons traveling to Jamaica will take all the necessary health precautions, so Ebola and chik-V won't prevent them from coming. "We have no confirmed guests from African countries yet, but everyone is still excited about coming."
Muhammad, who is thought by many to be the successor to Farrakhan, said the possible elevation is not his focus, but his leader has impressed him with his profound love for his teacher Elijah Muhammad and his commitment to take the message to the ends of the earth in spite of the hate he has faced. The NOI continues to grow worldwide under Farrakhan's leadership. they use opportunities to speak to youths in schools and rough neighbourhoods as their message reaches the minds of young people and allows them to see their inner greatness.
"It is not by accident that young men in Jamaica and elsewhere are caught up in criminal activity that keeps them from moving in the right direction. Who benefits?" asks Muhammad, who believes that the same forces that kept us down in slavery are still at work today. He holds the view that current trends in the United States where successful black men are being held under scrutiny for child/spouse abuse is not by accident. He says,, while he does not condone the behaviour, he sees it as part of a goal to diminish the value of the black male.
Persons attending the upcoming celebration are reminded to be early. the formalities will begin at 2 p.m. and last for roughly three hours. Speeches will be interspersed with inspirational reggae music. No weapons or bottles will be allowed inside the arena and there will be video screens outside. Admission is free, but for more information, call: 620-9852 or the website at www.noi.org.