Filmore Alvaranga, a respected elder in the Rastafarian movement and founding member of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, died September 25 in Kingston. He was 91 yearsold.
His daughter, Michele Alvaranga, told the Jamaica Observer that her father died while on the way to the Kingston Public Hospital. He had been suffering from the flu for three days and was seeking medical treatment.
Raised in east Kingston, Alvaranga was a committed Rastafarian for over 70 years. In a 1998 interview with the Observer, he said the work of Rasta pioneer Leonard Howell and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I inspired him to accept the Rastafarian faith.
Along with Oswald 'Count Ossie' Williams, Alvaranga started a cultural drum group in the east Kingston community of McGregor Gully in 1944. That group eventually became Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, one of the most influential groups in Jamaican music.
Their informal jam sessions in nearby Wareika Hills in the early 1950s attracted the country's top musicians including saxophonist Tommy McCook and trombonist Don Drummond, both future members of the Skatalites band.
The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari backed the Ffolkes Brothers on the 1959 hit song, Oh Carolina, produced by Prince Buster. Count Ossie died in an auto accident in Kingston in 1976.
In 1961, Alvaranga was part of a government-funded, fact-finding mission to Africa. The group, which also included Rasta elder Mortimo Planno, visited five countries including Ethiopia where they met with Selassie.
Lance HoShing, a member of the Rastafarian community, said the diminutive Alvaranga was a cultural giant.
"He set the full foundation for reparation and repatriation. The work of Filmore Alvaranga should be recorded for the younger generation to learn," HoShing said.
Michele Alvaranga said her father's spirituality never waned.
"He loved to talk about the Bible, culture, Rastafari," she stated.
Alvaranga received the Prime Minister's Award in 1983 and the Order of Distinction in 2009.
Filmore Alvaranga is survived by his wife Eulalee Brown-Alvaranga, five daughters, eight grandchildren and two
-- Howard Campbell