By Justin Whyte,
IN CELEBRATION of Black History Month, a film depicting the life and work of National Hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, was recently premiered at the Island Life cinema. But, instead of being a joyous occasion, it ended up as a confrontation between Dr. Julius Garvey, son of the National Hero and the producer of the film, American, Stanley Nelson.
Mr. Nelson was openly accused by Dr. Garvey of lynching the character of the National Hero.
The two-hour film, Marcus Garvey: Look For Me In The Worldwind, has already been shown on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Television in the United States and the Jamaican premiere was intended to raise funds to refurbish Liberty Hall, downtown Kingston, headquarters of the Garvey movement.
The incident was about an episode in the film, which seemed to suggest that Marcus Garvey inappropriately used funds belonging to the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).
But, according to Garveyite, Madam Mariamne Samad, who worked with the National Hero and the movement for all her life, "This film set everyone talking; even those who knew nothing about the man or his history.
"If something is wrong with the film, we must watch it, then decently lodge our dissatisfaction to effect a change, if necessary."
She told The Gleaner, "everyone is still talking about Garvey, but there is no action behind all of this.
"The fact that somebody has seen it fit to make a film on his life -- a man who brought together millions of people, with varying minds and philosophies -- one should give the producer every support," she continued.
Madam Samad said she believed the offending passage in the film was: "Two children throwing stones at Marcus Garvey and he walking away from them. I believe this was symbolic of the childish mind of an ex-slave."
However, she concurred that, "the film failed to explain the symbolism. As a matter of fact, why should Jamaicans be upset about this. Take for instance when we come to a stoplight and children come begging - we chase them away disgracefully. That's what I call hypocrisy," she said.
"Look at his birthplace, it is still not representative of a National Hero, she said.
The Gleaner asked Madam if she agreed that the film portrayed Marcus Garvey as dishonest, she responded: "I don't know about Marcus Garvey being a thief, but his father told him once, he was not a businessman."
Born in 1922, Madam Samad, who lived and work with Garvey, extolled his philosophy.
"When I was 17 I wrote Garvey a letter after reading what he said about the whiteman being washed into the sea in South Africa. And, I questioned his judgement, seeing that blacks lived there too. However, the letter was returned, it was war time and he never received it."
Madam Samad claimed that the movie could be seen as a start of something great. And she described Dr. Garvey as an "hypocrite", who never supported his father's black organisation.
"Marcus had flaws like anyone else. During his persecution years in the USA, he formed a Black Knights of the Round Table group, which was intended to fight back the white oppressors.
"This was not like Martin Luther's Christian alliance, which postulates that his followers should not fight back physically, but rather through prayer and love for fellowmen."
Madam Samad is widow of the late Abdul Samad, a black man born in Porus Manchester, who was a supporter of Garveyism and an African Legion.
The Gleaner tried to contact Dr. Julius Garvey and Stanley Nelson, but both men left the island shortly after the altercation.