Wed | Jun 20, 2018

Reoccupation of The Pinnacle begins

Published:Sunday | February 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Donisha Prendergast, granddaughter of Bob and Rita Marley, is one of the outspoken voices for the protection and the Rastafarian ownership of The Pinnacle lands in St Catherine.-Photo by Paul H. Williams

The hilltop on which Rasta pioneer Leonard P. Howell built his great house has a 360-degree view of the lands below. It's aptly called The Pinnacle, and has a view to die for.

On that hill and much of the land surrounding it was where Howell established the first Rastafari village in Jamaica. The village was completely destroyed in 1953 and Howell was thrown off the land. He died in 1981 in a cave, not far from the ruins of his great house.

A tabernacle is located just below the ruins. Last Friday night, while The Sunday Gleaner was visiting, a wood fire burned within. The mood among those who were gathered was energising, and there was much discourse about many things, and about, of course, the main issue at hand, the ownership of The Pinnacle lands. One lot was declared a national monument, but the community wants a similar designation for the other five, and they are claiming that the property belongs to the Howell family and the community.

"It's a very serious matter, it's a matter of justice. You cannot throw people off a land they legally own. ... It is a heritage site which belongs to an indigenous group of people - Rastafarians - that have influenced the whole world ... . We want the Government to come in and redress this ... ownership status because it was taken away illegally," Frankie Williams, a senior Rastafarian from Waterford, St Catherine, told The Sunday Gleaner.

Overseas visitors

So now, the land is being occupied by members of the community who are gathering in The Tabernacle. They intend to maintain a continuous presence on the land. Friday was the day when the occupation started. There was a fair turnout, with some overseas visitors, and a young male journalist from the United Kingdom.

In speaking with The Sunday Gleaner about the thrust towards reoccupation, Donisha Prendergast, a vocal member of the community, said, "We are not going anywhere, one by one we are filing in, we are going to camp out and reason."

- P.H.W