Reflections on His Majesty’s Visit: 18-21 April 1966
The Golden Jubilee anniversary, occurring this year, of the Royal visit of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, to the Caribbean in April 1966, has occasioned the mobilization of the Rastafari community in the region towards a series of activities in commemoration and celebration of this historic event, particularly in Jamaica and Trinidad.
In Trinidad, there will be a series of activities, including lectures, concerts and reasoning sessions, organized by the All Mansions of Rastafari, which is the umbrella body for the various streams of Rastafari livity, as well as independent individuals within the Rastafari community.
However, as I and I reflect on that visit fifty (50) years ago, there was an important event that occurred then, which continues to be of great concern to I and I. This event was the laying of the foundation stone by His Majesty, with a golden trowel, for the construction of a Cathedral for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (E.O.C), in the suburban, depressed community of Betham Gardens/Laventille. A personal grant from His Majesty and a financial donation from the Ethiopian Government were also proposed.
Well, the sad and disappointing reality is that this Cathedral is still to be constructed, after fifty (50) years. What excuse can be made for this great injustice to the Laventille community and Trinidad and Tobago by those who were entrusted with this responsibility i.e. the E.O.C and the Government? One can only imagine the enormously positive impact such an institution would have made on the spiritual, moral and social life of the community of Laventille and its environs over the last fifty (50) years. This becomes even more significant when one considers the present state of this community, now plagued with crime and violence and a grave sense of hopelessness, especially among the youth.
On this Golden Jubilee anniversary of His Majesty’s visit (April 18-21), I and I cry shame on the E.O.C and the national Government for having failed the African population in this regard. It is I and I hope that corrective action would be quickly taken to address this unacceptable situation. The people are perishing not for a lack of vision, but due to the failure of those responsible to fulfil the vision of His Majesty.
Another serious concern relating to this situation, is the question of whether the present site designated for the Cathedral, is the actual site where His Majesty laid the foundation stone. It is I and I overstanding that it is NOT. Therefore, the authorities must come clean on this issue. In I and I view, the Cathedral MUST be built on the ORIGINAL site, otherwise they would be building on sand (spiritually speaking). The spiritual foundation would be lost, with all the negative consequences that could follow.
Who have ears to hear, let them hear!
A word to the wise is sufficient.
Nevertheless, the Rastafari Community has made tremendous strides in its growth and development over the last fifty (50) years , moving from those dark days of stigmatization and ostracism when the Rastaman was “the usual suspect”, to a time now, when the Rasta hairstyle is very much more accepted (but not entirely) by the status quo.
Another positive development is the fact that unity and cooperation are also very much more practiced within the Rastafari Community, as the ideology and livity of Rastafari become more and more crystallized and overstood by all, Rasta and non-Rasta alike….As His Majesty declared in 1963 at the first summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), “Unity is the accepted goal.”
On this historic Golden Jubilee anniversary I man send out Iration of Perfect Love, Peace, Joy and Togetherness to I and I Breddren and Sistren with the Rastafari Community, locally, regionally and internationally, and to all conscious Africans generally.
ONE GOD ONE AIM ONE DESTINY
(AND AMLAK) (AND GIB) (AND FANTA)
LET JAH BE PRAISED (IGZIABEHER YIMASGAN)
HAILE I SELASSIE I JAH RASTAFARI
Jahson Atiba Alemu