Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
ST ANN'S BAY, St Ann:
FOR THE last two decades, his music has not only entertained, but has served as motivation for the ordinary Jamaican.
Now, through his Rebel Salute Foundation, Tony Rebel has made a significant move to assist Jamaicans in need through the establishment of the Teach the Children Scholarship.
The scholarship fund was launched recently at the Mansfield campus of the Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St Ann, where two four-year scholarships valued at $60,000 annually were awarded to students Kezia Williams and Jevaughn Smith.
"The idea to start the foundation was more a move to officially formalise what has always been done," explained Maxsalia Salmon, secretary of the Rebel Salute Foundation, as she addressed the ceremony.
"Over the years, Tony Rebel has been heavily involved in several local communities. He, along with the rest of the Rebel Salute team, has always taken the initiative to support persons and institutions in need, and over the years, has donated to various causes, including persons seeking medical treatment and providing schools with much-needed equipment."
Marcus Garvey Technical High School is the first institution to be supported by the foundation and is regarded as its flagship programme
According to Salmon, the assistance is no coincidence given that Richmond Estate in Priory, St Ann, about a mile from the school, has been the new home of Rebel Salute since January 2013.
"As an organisation, we believe in many of the principles and opinions of Marcus Garvey, so the fact that there is a school named in his honour naturally attracted us," Salmon went on. "Persons who know anything about Rebel Salute would realise that as an event, we take great pride in promoting cultural consciousness and development, so the connection to this school was practically inevitable."
Scholarships aside, Tony Rebel delighted the students as he mingled and chatted with them before and after the presentation.
"Our mandate as artistes and as a company that deals with Rebel Salute is about educating the people, and this is one of the means to do so," Rebel later told Rural Xpress.
"We always teach in our music. We do a lot of lectures in schools, so we are consistent in what we do," he added. "We choose education because if a nation is educated, we would have growth and development. I am a Garveyite, and if his philosophy is exercised in schools, we can be successful."
The parents of the children were extremely delighted with the scholarships.
"Happy? I am more than happy! I am so excited!" Kezia's mom, Kedecia Elliston, told Rural Xpress. "When I got the call, I couldn't even breathe!"
"I'm so proud of her. She's my only daughter. I have three boys," she added.
As for Jevaughn's dad, Kevin Smith, he said he was overjoyed.
"Mi feel great! This (scholarship) will help a lot, so I give a lot of thanks," Smith said. "I'm hoping for the best for him. I hope he gets all his CXCs and come out good."
Principal of Marcus Garvey Technical, Leslie Riley, was thankful for the help given to the two students.
"We appreciate the assistance to the students. I think it was a good gesture, and we look forward to more help from the community," Riley told Rural Xpress. "If more people would come on-board and assist us, that would be wonderful as there are students here who are really in need, especially those who are not on the PATH programme, they could do well with some assistance."
Riley said the presentation was the culmination of discussions between the school and the Rebel Salute Foundation after the annual Rebel Salute show was moved to the nearby Richmond property in January this year.
"They wanted us to associate the name (Marcus Garvey) with Rebel Salute and said they would be interested in supporting the school in whatever way they can. We suggested the scholarships and they accepted the suggestion."
Rebel Salute director, Jahyudah Barrett, said the partnership between Marcus Garvey Technical High School and Rebel Salute was a perfect fit.
"Given our objectives of the Rebel Salute main event, and based on the founding nature of Marcus Garvey (Technical) High School, a decision to support that institution was made. The partnership is a perfect fit," Barrett said in a release.