MONTEGO BAY, April 5, 2021 - Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, Olivia Grange, says she is pleased that the Rastafari Coral Gardens Elders Home established at Granville in St James with funds provided by her Ministry is now operational.
Minister Grange spoke at the official opening on April 1, 2021, of the Rastafari Coral Gardens Elders Home which is a facility set up to care for the medical and social needs of the survivors of the 1963 Coral Gardens Massacre. It is managed by the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society (RCGBS).
“It is pleasing and quite an accomplishment to have the Home now up and running and I must say job well done to the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society which spent the funds prudently to make the Home fully functional.
“I know that it is much appreciated by the Elders resident here, the Rastafari community, and by their Member of Parliament, the Honourable Dr. Horace Chang, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security,” the Culture Minister said.
She also spoke of what had been done since the apology in Parliament in April 2017 by the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister, to the Rastafari community when he also announced the setting up of a Trust Fund to be administered by the Administrator-General as compensation to the survivors.
Minister Grange said the Fund was now far in excess of the initial amount of Thirteen Million Dollars which was placed in it in 2018. Survivors have been receiving regular disbursements since then.
She gave credit to those who assisted in establishing the Home such as Dr. Chang; Food for the Poor through Mr. Craig Moss Solomon, Cultural Liaison Barbara Blake Hannah, the Team from the Ministry, and private donors.
Dr. Chang, who cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, spoke of the respect he and the Government had for the contributions of the Rastafari citizens, and his own pledge to continuing to work with the RCGBS to ensure that commitments for further development will be implemented.
These, he said, included the promise of a permanent structure to house the Elders, an office for the RCGBS and 50 acres of land to develop a community and farm.
Dr Chang, who is also deputy prime minister, as well as Member of Parliament for St James North West, argued that if more Jamaican families emulated the values of the Rastafarian community, then there would be less murders.
Dr Chang observed that heinous acts of violence meted out to women would be eliminated if the wider society replicates the respect that “true” Rastafarian men show to females.
“If you respect your women, if you see her as an empress, as a queen – you can't destroy her, you can't beat her, and murder her, and cut her, and things like that. We have to consider these things,” Dr Chang pointed out.
“In the Rastafarian community you speak of your sisters, queens and empress for women. These are languages that reaffirms respect for women. And if we can replicate this to the broader community we would get rid of [this] kind of negativitism and the violence that is destroying our society.”
Other speakers included Sister Pamela Williams, Secretary of the RCGBS, attorney and broadcast, Miguel Lorne, ganja activist, Ras Iyah V, and Sister Kathy Howell.
The opening ceremony, which was in the form of a mixture of face to face and virtual setting, ended with the beating of drums and the singing of Rastafari chants.