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CARIBBEAN-STUDIES  May 2018

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Subject:

FW: Rastafari apology

From:

Patricia Noxolo <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Patricia Noxolo <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 18 May 2018 09:02:45 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (133 lines)

Dear colleagues,

See below: a series of fascinating apologies in the Caribbean to the Rastafarian community.  Thanks to Shango Baku (cced), journalist/performer/scholar-activist, for this information.

All the best,
Pat


Dr Patricia Noxolo,

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences,

University of Birmingham,

Edgbaston,

Birmingham

B15 2TT

UK

________________________________
From: [log in to unmask] [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 18 May 2018 09:55
To: Patricia Noxolo
Subject: Re: Rastafari apology


Prime Minister Gaston Browne issues an apology to the Rastafarian community

Dear Members of the Rastafarian Community
Long you suffered; long you endured

Your rejection of being made a slave to the British culture and your refusal to surrender your African heritage made you a threat to the colonial establishment.
Rastafari, dreadlocks, ganja, Babylon and Zion made you outcasts and unacceptable.
Not because you did wrong, but because you stood up for what you thought was our right.
You would not be forced to abandon Africa that lived within you. You would not absorb the customs of those who tore you from your roots. You would not relent even when you were damned by calumny.
For you, the lands to which you were transferred, the master you were made to serve,
the denigration of your black beauty; the trampling upon your dignity – all these things made your new circumstances, Babylon.
And Zion became the spiritual home in Africa to which Rastafari would return, to live, again, to be made whole again, to be human again.
So, the anthem was created:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered Zion
When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
Bob Marley, arguably the most internationally famous Rastafarian, gave voice to your situation in his lamentation:
We refuse to be what you wanted us to be
We are what we were
And hat’s the way it’s going to be
In the beginning we were all Rastafari in spirit.
Our ancestors too longed for home and resented being stripped of their identity, their culture and their dignity. Many of our ancestors were defiant until death; tortured, broken on the wheel and beaten to death. Others succumbed to the lash of the whip; to the daily grinding down by the exploiter’s  boot; to the respite that was offered by the acceptance of the oppressor’s rules.
You; Rastafari remained defiant in the defence of your culture and human dignity.
So, you had to be marginalized; scorned; victimized and labelled. But you endured, living in your own community, growing your locks; and retaining your own religious connections.
Ganja, for you, was not a mind-numbing drug that disembodied your spirit from the Babylon in which you endured; it was also a vehicle for communion with Zion, the place where black people lived with dignity and freedom and connected to their being.
Regrettably, even as the Colonial establishment retreated from whence they came and people born in these Caribbean countries replaced them in authority, the Rastafari continued to be marginalized.
There were times in Antigua and Barbuda when our own misunderstanding of Rastafari and its religious rituals such as the use of ganja, caused our establishment to turn away Rastas at the airport, to demand that their children cut away their locks as a condition of entering school. Even our Churches scorned Rastafari. Getting a job iofor a Rasta man or woman was a challenge, for our societies had imbibed the prejudice of colonialism, and could not see that the Rastafarian way of life was as a resolve to retain roots – roots from which we were ourselves sprung.
That discrimination went on for decades, preventing the Rastafarian community from escaping the confines of poverty, and denying them the right to explain who they are, what they believe and what part they wish to play in the homelands which are now our collective heritage.
It is long past time for discrimination, marginalization and rejection of the Rastafarian community to end.
For the Rastafari are our own people, whose lives branched in a different direction because they had the courage to reject surrender and absorption, and to maintain dignity and self-worth even as they endured ostracism and exclusion.
Out of a dark colonial past of their forbears and ours, Rastas have risen up to affirm their self-dignity, their African heritage and their worth as human beings. They have shown that from the margins of society can come energy and creativity that can spread around the world and captivate it.
Indeed, in music, art and literature, these countries of the Caribbean owe their international recognition to the Rastafari.
In fact, compared to people of other religious persuasions a relatively high number of Rastas are represented in the arts, as they are in music.
As far back as the mid-1970s in Britain, a Catholic Commission on Racial Justice, issued a report advocating the recognition of Rastafari as an authentic religious expression of a minority group.
The Catholic Commission called on Churches to enter into meaningful exchanges with Rastas.
In the full knowledge of all that I have described here, my Government pledges recognition of the Rastafarian community as an integral part of our community. And just as we accord others the right to practice their religion, including their religious rites, within their Churches, so too do we accept the rights of the Rastafari to practice their “livity” - their culture and religious practices – including their sacramental use of ganja.
We further pledge that, as part reparations for the injustice done to the Rastafarian community over the years, they will be included amongst those who are licensed to produce marijuana for medical purposes.
We will try to make true the future path of the Rastafari about which Bob Marley sang in “Redemption Song”:
Old pirates yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I from the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong by the hand of the Almighty
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.
For all the harm that was done to the Rastafari over the decades in Antigua and Barbuda, I apologise most sincerely on behalf of my Government and the Governments that went before us.
As a child I was socialized among Rastafari. Growing up as an impoverished youth, with a single parent mother who was mentally ill and could not provide for her children, many meals came from the Yabba of the Rastafari. The scatta, sauce, and the dread bread provided InI with sustenance when others of greater means, including family members, could not see or care about the circumstances under which I and my siblings lived.
At age 9, Rastafari saved InI from what would have been sure electrocution. Rastafarian and I have been connected to our roots through morphic resonance.
A new dawn has broken in our country’s history in which Babylon must no longer exist in our land, and in which Zion must live in our hearts, in our minds and in our shared existence.
Rastas are we, and I and I.
Our country must be purged of the ills of the past – and we must rise up as one - one people, indivisible and united; as one nation, one people with a common destiny.
Blessings
Gaston Browne
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda


________________________________
From: Patricia Noxolo <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 18 May 2018 07:12
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: RE: Rastafari apology

Hi Shango,

Thanks for this - really interesting to see such a full and apparently heartfelt apology.  Do you mind if I pass it around some email lists?  Most of them won't take attachments, so, unless you have a version that's inside the body of an email(?), I would pass around this published link: https://repeatingislands.com/2017/04/12/jamaican-government-apologizes-to-rastafarians/
[https://repeatingislands.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/rastamarchn20170404pp.jpg]<https://repeatingislands.com/2017/04/12/jamaican-government-apologizes-to-rastafarians/>

Jamaican government apologizes to Rastafarians – Repeating ...<https://repeatingislands.com/2017/04/12/jamaican-government-apologizes-to-rastafarians/>
repeatingislands.com
In “We are sorry - Jamaican government apologises to Rastas for Coral Gardens incident,” Jason Cross (Jamaica Gleaner) reports on the long-awaited apology from the Government to the Rastafari community of Coral Gardens for atrocities meted out to them more than half a century ago.



All the best,
Pat


Dr Patricia Noxolo,

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences,

University of Birmingham,

Edgbaston,

Birmingham

B15 2TT

UK

________________________________
From: [log in to unmask] [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 17 May 2018 14:06
Subject: ?spam? Rastafari apology


FYI

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