JAMAICA | Revisiting the Legacy of the Holy Thursday Rastafarian Uprising

JAMAICA | Revisiting the Legacy of the Holy Thursday Rastafarian Uprising

MONTEGO BAY,  March 27, 2024 As we commemorate the Coral Gardens Uprising of 1963 let us never forget  that Rastafarian Farmer Benjamin ‘Rudolph’ Franklyn  was shot and killed by the police on that mournful Holy Thursday of  April 11,  over the unsettled  issue of land tenure on the Rose Hall property.

O. Dave Allen says "The Coral Gardens Uprising was a revolutionary	act of resistance,  an  assault against the  system. It was a part of a wider struggle by the Rastafarian against imperialism, a struggle  rooted in the fight for equity and justice, a struggle for land and dignity, waged  by a warrior class that lit the torch of freedom as  revolutionaries do.O. Dave Allen says "The Coral Gardens Uprising was a revolutionary act of resistance, an assault against the system. It was a part of a wider struggle by the Rastafarian against imperialism, a struggle rooted in the fight for equity and justice, a struggle for land and dignity, waged by a warrior class that lit the torch of freedom as revolutionaries do.Let us also be reminded of the quotation from   Franz Fanon in  his masterpiece, the ‘Wretched of the Earth’:  “For a colonised people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity.”

Let us not be distracted from the fundamental issue that gave rise to  the Coral Gardens Uprising, the uprising  was  rooted in the iniquitous distribution of land.

Coral Gardens was part of a larger property, the Rose Hall estate (which includes the Rose Hall Great House). According to historian and noted Montego Bay Scholar, Dr. Horace Campbell,  this property was the site of both small-scale farming by Rastafarians, as well as the ambitions of landlords and government officials who hoped to convert the area into a tourist destination.

The government and landlords saw the Rastafarians as an obstacle to their goal of re-purposing the property for tourism, and frequently sent police to evict the Rastafarians.

Victimhood and a revolutionary mindset represent two distinct approaches to addressing social injustices or challenging circumstances:

The historic Gardens Incident of 1963 where every Rasta was a wanted man. When held, the police would forcefully trim their locks.The historic Gardens Incident of 1963 where every Rasta was a wanted man. When held, the police would forcefully trim their locks.The Coral Gardens Uprising was a revolutionary act of resistance,  an  assault against the  system. It was a part of  a wider struggle by the Rastafarian against imperialism, a struggle   rooted in the fight  for equity and justice,   a  struggle for land and dignity, waged  by a warrior class that lit the torch  of freedom   as  revolutionaries  do.

As the masses of the people are more and more alienated from the land, the New Rastafarian movement must take on that revolutionary struggle and  focus on challenging the establishment to  transform existing power structures and systems  that perpetuate injustice. 

They must believe in their ability to effect change and take proactive steps to bring about social or political transformation. Non but ourselves.

This New Rasta must break with  the peace and love mantra which was used by Priest Brown  of the Potters House, as a defensive shield to protect Rasta from the brutal force of the army and the Police. 

It has since outlived its usefulness which  as only render the Rasta movement as  an exotic  component of the tourist industry, tolerated yet  neither loved nor feared.   

The movement  should not   remain   victims who appeal to the benevolence  of the oppressor or  see themselves as disadvantaged by external forces or individuals who feel powerless to change their situation and rely on others for sympathy or support, victims who  seek validation and sympathy from others to reinforce their perceived victim status. But proud champions of the oppressed.

While victims may feel marginalized or oppressed by circumstances beyond their control, revolutionaries actively work to challenge and dismantle oppressive conditions   to create a more equitable and just society.

This new generation must  seize the moment, and the agent of change  to  address social injustices at their core.

In contrast,  a victim mentality  often involves a sense of helplessness, externalized blame, and a focus on personal grievances without necessarily seeking broader societal transformation.

The mission of this   new generation should be inspired  by the  awakening from neo-colonialism as expressed by the young warriors Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger given the symbiotic relationships with mother Africa.

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