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Rastafari reflections! - Grange marks Selassie I’s birthday with renewed pledge to clear the criminal records of freedom fighters

Published:Saturday | July 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange (left) and Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie greet Rastafarians on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the State Visit to Jamaica of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia 'Babsy' Grange has reiterated the Government's intention to absolve from criminal liability national heroes Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, "and all other freedom fighters, known and unknown".

Grange made the pledge as she joined members of the Jamaican Rastafari community in celebrating today's 125th anniversary of the birth of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.

"Emperor Selassie is revered by Rastafari as a divine African whose leadership of Ethiopia with wisdom, dignity and spiritual commitment was an example to be admired and copied," said Grange, as she noted that Rastafari see the Emperor as fulfilment of Garvey's prophecy "Look to Africa where a King will be crowned!"

"In the decades that followed his coronation, the name of Haile Selassie has inspired hundreds of men and women in Jamaica and the world to become followers of the Rastafari faith and lifestyle," added Grange.

According to Grange, the Rastafari heritage is uniquely interconnected with a number of tangible and intangible components of Jamaican history.

"Rastafari in Jamaica represents one of the most articulate voices within Jamaica's history of resistant expression following the tenets of black leaders such as Paul Bogle, Alexander Bedward and Marcus Garvey.

"Rastafari today is a global community of adherents who are driven to act and advocate towards the advancement of the African situation. Within this context, Rastafari can be seen as a global pan-African movement with a religious foundation," declared Grange.

The culture minister said among the matters that have been led by the Rastafari community, and by extension have a bearing on the documented legacy of the Rastafari culture and heritage, is the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of the community.

"This includes expanding the economic value of Rastafari cultural resources and ensuring the applicability of individual and group intellectual property associated with cultural assets that are unique to the community. My government and ministry take it as priority to support and project this cultural heritage.

"As we honour the 125th year of the birth of Emperor Haile Selassie, I and the members of my ministry's culture and entertainment divisions will continue to focus on the needs and issues of the Jamaican Rastafari community, and to do whatever is possible to show appreciation for its valuable contribution to the nation," said Grange.