Rastafari movement to celebrate 55th anniversary of Haile Selassie's visit to JamaicaThursday, April 08, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James- Plans are in high gear to celebrate the 55th anniversary of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie's visit to Jamaica, according to chairman of the Rastafari Nyahbinghi Administrative Council, Ras Iyah V.
The celebration, which will be held on April 21 at the Pitfour Nyahbinghi Centre in St James, will take on a different approach this year, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We always have a [yearly] Nyahbinghi celebration, and even though we won't be having the turnout in numbers this year, we always make sure that the Nyahbinghi [celebration] is held in memory of whatever the event is,” Ras Iyah V told the Jamaica Observer West.
“We plan to maintain [as] much as possible, you know, the protocols that the Government requires or ask of us. But this April marks the 55th anniversary of when Haile Selassie came here in 1966, so we must celebrate,” he stressed.
Noting that the pandemic has forced their hands in the utilisation of technology as a means of communication, the Rastafari elder explained that the group had used the medium to reach their supporters across the globe for a prior celebration.
“We did a live stream last November in Pitfour, it was the 90th anniversary of the coronation of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, so we had a Zoom connection with [our] Rastafari brethren and sistren in different parts of the world. Some were in South Africa and South America. That is what we are trying to get going again. We want to stream live to people and bases all over the world who would want to be at the event,” he said.
The 1966 visit, he noted, marks a very special occasion in the group's calendar, as “for the first time Rastafarians and so-called society people were rubbing shoulders together. Before that, Rastafarians were seriously persecuted by the State.”
“We just want to educate our people as much as possible on the significance of the visit and the fact that Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that was never colonised or conquered by Europe or Islam,” the Rastafari elder argued.
He noted that due to the current climate, the use of technology is fully embraced by the group as they also intend to utilise the Internet as a medium to spread awareness of the Rastafari movement and stay in the know.
“What we have been trying to do is develop the infrastructure in a way to utilise technology, so we communicate effectively and be aware of what's going on in the world. We want to be able to pass on our ideas to our brothers and sisters. And even other people who are just interested, because we have some university students that are interested in Rastafari and as such, the fact that we cannot freely move about as we used to, or as we would want to, then we must utilise technology. So, we are trying to do that not just from a communication point of view but to use technology in any way that benefits the upliftment of the movement,” he explained.
The Pitfour Nyahbinghi Centre, the oldest Rastafari centre in Jamaica, which dates to 1983, is used to host major educational and celebratory events yearly. To the success of this centre, the Rastafari elder credits the teamwork of his Rastafari brothers and sisters.
“People like Bongo Joe, Bongo Manny, and an elder brethren by the name of Bongo Isaac, who is one of the Coral Gardens victims, and Norma, who is Bongo Manny's wife, have been responsible for keeping that centre alive with support naturally coming from people all over the island, but they have taken on and are responsible for spearheading the centre,” he said.
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