Brother Samuel Clayton
Balford Henry, Staff Reporter
RASTAFARIAN leader, Samuel Clayton, thinks that Queen Elizabeth II is a gracious queen and is looking forward to meet her when she comes tomorrow.
"To us she is really the gracious queen," he said as we sat down to speak on the issue, at his home in St. Andrew.
As far as Brother Sam, as he is affectionately called, is concerned there have been three important Queens of England - Elizabeth I, Victoria and Elizabeth II. He isn't smitten by the first Elizabeth for, "giving the first slave ship, the Jesus Lubeck, to John Hawks to start the slave trade." He acknowledges Victoria for bringing about emancipation in the colonies. But she is not in the class of the current Elizabeth, he insists.
"She is the gracious queen, in contrast to her discredited predecessors. She gave the colonies their independence," Brother Sam pointed out. This was in reference to the fact that most English colonies were given independence during her reign. Sir Harold McMillan, then British Prime Minister, is often credited with those developments, however.
Brother Sam said that he met the Queen the last time she was here, 1994, at a reception at Kings House at which he was accompanied by Philmore Alvaranga. He and Alvaranga were members of the Jamaican Rastafarian mission which went to the United Nations headquarters in New York in 1963, in an abortive bid to meet then Secretary General U Thant on the repatriation issue.
They were introduced to Prince Philip by the Governor General.
"We spoke to Prince Philip and he went and got the Queen and brought her over. We spoke about Ethiopia, because they had visited there the same month we left there in 1963," he explained.
Following their failure to meet Thant, despite demonstrating in freezing weather outside the U.N. office, Brother Sam, Alvaranga and Douglas Mack, then travelled on the second mission to Ethiopia, financed by the Jamaican Government. Their mission was to discuss the possibility of Jamaican Rastas relocating to Ethiopia.
They had planned to stay for a few weeks, but ended up spending six months as guests of the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. The Emperor wanted them to learn enough about the country and its culture, to explain it to their brethrens in Jamaica on their return.
At the Kings House reception, Alvaranga actually gave the Queen one of two gold medals he had received from the Ethiopian Emperor. Brother Sam explained that Alvaranga had two such medals. He had received a medal on each of the two missions to Ethiopia.
"He gave her as a gesture of royal summons, for our proposals that she meet with us to discuss the resettlement of people in Africa," said Brother Sam.
They had sent a letter, with 10,000 signatures, to the Queen from 1964, requesting that she discuss with them the possibility of the British Government providing financial support for repatriation to Africa. The only response they ever got was an acknowledgement from King's House that she received the letter. But, he said, the Queen informed them that she had responded.
Brother Sam gave the Queen a poem he had written for her, titled Ode To The Queen. It was written in old English, printed in gold on a velvet background.
She told them that she liked the drumming of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari (MRR), of which Brother Sam is a member. They had played for her at Devon House on a previous visit.
Now Brother Sam says he wants to make another request to meet with her to discuss the issue of financial support for repatriation. The 1964 letter had suggested that she donate 140 pounds (sterling) towards the effort.
Brother Sam concedes that his tactics are different from those of some other Rastas, who see the Queen as a symbol of colonialism and slavery.
"We are the most classic revolutionaries or rebels with a cause. We don't fight with guns and bombs and spears. We use the lyrics of song and poetry. Our struggle should be embraced and our approach is an inspirational challenge. We deserve a Nobel peace prize. Jesus was the only other person who went further and offered to turn another cheek," he sermonised.
Now he is eagerly awaiting the visit which starts tomorrow.
"I am looking forward to her visit. I am not sure I will be able to talk to her this time, but I would love to, mainly to get a positive assurance about resettlement in Africa. In addition, this may be her last visit and I want her to close as graciously as she started," he said.