Thousands of Jamaicans celebrate Marcus Garvey in St Ann
Patrons pack Coconut Grove in St Ann on Sunday to celebrate Jamaica's first National Hero, Marcus Garvey. (PHOTOS: Marlon Reid)
Thousands of persons on Sunday converged at the grounds of Coconut Grove in St Ann, Jamaica in a colourful celebration of the 130th anniversary of the birth of Jamaica’s first National Hero, Marcus Garvey.
It was the 26th annual staging of Irie FM’s Tribute to Mwalimu Marcus Garvey; this year it was held under the theme, “Pan-Africanism or Perish! Reparations Now!”
Starting as early as 6:00 a.m. the event had guest speakers from around the globe highlighting the virtues of the philosophy of Garvey.
With memorabilia of Garvey, Rastafari and other symbols of the black movement on sale, there was a festival atmosphere at the event, which culminated with a stage show.
According to Ka’Bu Ma’at Kheru, director of programming at Irie FM, the aim this year was to enlighten the public about reparations.
She said, “by foregrounding reparations as the theme this year, Irie FM hopes to utilise a populous event to sensitise and bring awareness of the various elements of the reparations debate and the work of the national and regional reparations council and commission respectively.”
Marcus Garvey celebrations in St Ann
She added that it was a vision of Irie FM founder Karl Young to uplift Jamaicans with events of the kind.
Among the noted overseas speakers at the event were:
• Dr Malik Zulu Shabazz, United States of America attorney at law, president of the Black Lawyers for Justice and former chairman of the New Black Panther Party;
•Reverend Canon Eve Pitts, a Jamaican, who is the vicar of the Parish Church of Holy Trinity and the first black woman ordained as a Deacon in the Church of England;
• Dr Julius Garvey, son of Marcus Garvey, a cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon, who spoke on the life and legacy of Marcus Garvey;
• Mukasa Dada, a black power advocate and central committee member of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party;
• Brother David Muhammad, Trinidad and Eastern Caribbean Representative of the Nation of Islam; and
• Jessica Mbangeni, a South African praise poet and storyteller.
Shabazz discussed the main theme of the event; Pitts about honouring our ancestors; Dada, the relevance of black power in the 21st century; and Mohammad outlined the reasons why reparations are essential.
Professor Tunde Bewaji of the University of the West Indies; Dr Rosalie Hamilton; attorney-at-law Bert Samuels, dub poet Yasus Afari; storyteller Amina Blackwood Meeks; and Michael Duncan, president general of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), were among the local presenters.
Politicians Mike Henry of the governing Jamaica Labour Party, and the current Minister of Transport and Mining, and Damion Crawford of the opposition People’s National Party, also spoke during the day.
With the compound littered with black, green and red, the colours of the UNIA-ACL, and with the yellow added from the rastafari community’s red, green and gold (yellow), the festivities ended with a stage show which showcased a number of notable artistes.
Among those who performed were Capleton, Nesbeth, Chezidek, Tabby Diamond from the Mighty Diamond group, Garnet Silk Jr, Tyrical, Lymie Murray, Deep Jahi, Nature, Charlie Chaplin and Fanton Mojah.