The Life Everliving of James "Jah Lightening" Campbell
Jah LighteningJames was born in the mid 1920's on the northwest coast of the island called Jamaica. He spent his childhood in the rural hills of Hanover Parish near the small village of Cascade. Life there in the early days of the twentieth century was simple. They had no electricity, no running water, no telephone and no motor car. The little money his family lived on was made raising goats and growing yams. With six boys and six girls to feed and care for, James' mother and father were extremely hard working people. Some of his brothers and sisters were able to attend the one room school house down in the village, but James loved to spend his time with his 'old man', farming and caring for the goat herd.
While James' father had no formal education, his mother could read and every evening was spent together with Mom reading from the daily newspaper and her bible. In this way he became very well informed about the current issues of the country and he learned the bible quite thoroughly. He never learned to read or write but this family based education served him greatly throughout his life.
As a young man James tried a variety of jobs, finally landing a maintenance position at the small but growing airport in the city of Montego Bay. His family and friends were very happy for him, as work there was quite difficult to secure. He became a hero one evening when a Columbian airplane crashed at the airport. While pieces of the airplane lay scattered and burning on the runway, James risked his own life, disregarding the flames and recovering as many passengers as possible.
His awareness of Rastafari became more and more powerful in those early days. As he meditated upon the reasonings of Brethren and Sistren around him, he gained a fuller and fuller 'overstanding' and embraced Rasta as the Righteous Way. He saw the fullness of the dreadlocks and stopped shaving and trimming his hair. The manager of the airport called him in to the office and explained that the managment could not tolerate the unshaven appearance of any employee, so he must tidy himself up. To this James replied, "I prefer Life over silver and gold, thank you very much!" He walked out of the airport, never to return.
He took his few possessions and moved back into the hills of his childhood. His sisters and brothers were appalled that he would leave his good job in the city due to his devotion to the "crazy" Rastafari. None of them would take him in or help him, so he stayed in a small cave until another Rasta heard of his plight and came to his aid. Together they built a small but comfortable two room bamboo "gates", where he lived for many years.
In 1966 Haile Selassie visited Jamaica, arriving at the airport in Kingston in his private plane. James, along with almost every Rasta on the island, was there to witness this auspicious moment. "When I look, I see Him face as a LION! Upon Him crown is a LION! And that plane that come with Him... is a LION upon it!! So I wouldn't have no doubt! And I Live fe HIM and I Live in HIM! And I will have no other One! Yes man!", James professed. It was the most exalted day of his life... to see the Almighty Father with his very own eyes.
Living life as a Rastaman was not an easy thing. In those days Rastas were looked upon as "dirty, nasty, bug-hair Rastas!" "Them Crazies!" There was constant persecution and tribulation placed upon them. Most often by the police and government. Because of the fear and superstition of the people in the surrounding communities, James was continuously harrassed. Some were even known to faint at the sight of him! The prevailing attitude was that no sane man would choose to keep himself "untidy" and go off and live in a dirt floor, grass house, out in the bush! And James was not a silent, timid individual. When he saw an injustice happening, he would intervene and do his best to stop it with words of power and truth! For this he was arrested and beaten many times. Never was he violent, but his words carried strength and force, and the community did not appreciate his honesty.
There was the time he tried to save the huge mango tree on the side of the road leading into the bush land. It was about to be chopped down and he insisted that no one should destroy the tree that offered food and shade to the travelers... the tree that harmed no one and was in no ones way. They beat him and thought that they had killed him. Even brought him down to the morgue, known as the 'dead house'. But, to everyones amazement, he regained consciousness, stood up and walked out of the building and forwarded to his little bamboo gates.
There was also the time he showed up down at the village church to insist they stop clanging the iron bell, as that metal symbolized the enslavement of the people and should never be used to call them together! He demanded that the parson stop lying to the people and tell them the truth. He was arrested at gun point and had to spend some time in the jailhouse for causing a disturbance.
And then there were the times that people would simply lie to the police about him, saying he had stolen a goat or robbed their field, just to try and get rid of him. He was well aware that fear can make people do many wicked things, and never sought any revenge on those that persecuted him. "Jah be the rightful judge!" he allways said.
By the time of the 1960's and '70's, Rastafari was becoming known to the youth of the country and some were coming into the bush hills where James was living, building their own gates. Those hills became quite populated with many young Dreadlock Rastas.
Unfortunately, there were still those in the nearby village that had wicked hearts and soon became jealous. How could this dirty Rasta be so attractive to foreigners? And to the youth of the village? They conspired and spied until they saw the time to strike with their evil. One Sunday morning 25 police raided the hills claiming James and the others were a "ganja" production ring. They beat them and carried them off to jail. In the courtroom a week later James tried to tell the judge that Babylon could not overcome Rastafari and the judge angerily sentenced him to 3 years in the penitentiary. The others were given 6 month to 1 year sentences and all foreigners were deported and told never to return to the country!
James' three years in the prison were rough, but he maintained his strength of principle and truth. He soon became known as 'Jah Lightening', with the first incident being in the prisons barber shop. Thunder began to rumble as soon as he entered the room. When the barber shaved through the first lock and it fell to the floor, a bolt of lightening struck the water tower and all the prisons water supply gushed out! The barber became frightened and called the superintendant. The prisoners all began talking about it. There was quite an uproar! James gained respect as a most powerful man, and his kindness and righteousness became well known. When his three years were done he went right up to his hills in Hanover and sadly found things in shambles. Almost everyone was gone. His gates had been burned down and a local villager was keeping cows in what had once been his yard.
James perserveringly built another gates further into the bush land, determined to live his life in harmony with the Almighty's natural Creation. The rest of the community had scattered and only one other brethren remained in those hills. One or two of the foreigners defied the court ruling of 'never being allowed to return' and visited often. Tribulations can be serious and only the truely strong hearted can maintain. Over the years there were many that would challenge James' fortitude. But tribulation made him stronger and his faith in Jah Rastafari never wavered! He came to be known for the Loving man he was and often was visited by those seeking Truth teachment and great wisdom.
James lived his life as a righteous man. His years of quiet meditation and harmonious Rasta Livity in the natural bush country gave him a deep, clear wisdom. His Love was uplifting, with total Awareness. He loved his Life and was of the realization that He was, is and shall be forever living in the Heart of the Almighty Creator... Jah... Rastafari! Known, seen, appreciated and dearly loved by IanI brethren and sistren with eyes to see and ears to hear.
IanI Rastafari give thanks and praise unto the Most High for the blessings of the benevolence, harmony, companionship and Love of the Most High manifest in this Life. Peace and Guidance to all who take the time to read this story... the never ending story of ONE LOVE.