Our Readers' Opinions
December 23, 2009

We are our biggest oppressors!


Editor: Please permit me space to express some very important issues. We have just gone through a very important historic event that is the constitutional reform. It brought out a very ugly side to our nation, very similar to the times when we have our partisan elections.{{more}}

I will make this letter specially geared to the Rasta Fari Community. I have seen the light of Rastafari for over 14 years now. From that time to the present, I have known of quite a few issues that are burning desires for the Rasta Fari Movement. Three of them are listed below:

1. The removal of Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state: Not just the mere removal of a queen, but the whole historic symbolism that she represents. The role of England in the very inhumane trade of slaves from the African Continent, along with the rape and plunder of our African Homeland. The fact is that also there has never been an official apology accompanied by compensation or reparation for all the loss that was suffered by the African race. To remain continually under the queen’s rule is in some way saying that we still accept all that they have done to us. I am not in any way saying that we should not forgive all who wronged us, but there are steps to be made in correcting these wrongs. One of those steps will be severing all ties to our colonisers. The Rasta Fari Movement has always proclaimed allegiance to one King and Queen, the Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Woizero Mennen. The King Haile Selassie I actually has his lineage traced to Biblical Kings like Solomon. So I relation to our King Haile Selassie is based on biblical prophesies.

2. We have continually lamented the situation faced by the Ras Tafari Males who are generally imprisoned for the use or possession of the Holy Herb Marijuana. These brothers are stripped of their pride and dignity by the removal of their locks upon imprisonment. The cutting of the Rasta Fari Locks is an inhumane act. The locks of a Rasta Fari person is not something that can be isolated from the Rasta Man himself. Taking something as intricately important as his locks from him is a very great infringement on his constitutional rights. The other important thing is the dietary practises of a Ras Tafari. Upon incarceration, the respect of this practise is completely thrown out the door. The constitution that we have now covers these issues in our Fundamental rights and freedom, as the right of freedom to practice your religion. But the proposed bill 2009 would have gone a step further in not making it as vague as it currently is. So I am wondering, are we now better off?

3. The Ras Tafari is an individual, a citizen like any other here in this island. Therefore, his rights and privileges should be respected like any other citizen. The laws of this land and many other say the use of marijuana is illegal. The marijuana is a natural plant that is grown, then dried and then smoked. There is no other chemical added to the process to change its properties. It was created by the Almighty and not by man. The preamble or the fore of the constitution states that “that this nation is founded on the supremacy of God” is the same GOD that created this plant that man now say is illegal. Ras Tafari for many years has been pleading the case for legalization, or even the simplest case of decriminalization, but to no avail. At the same time in the United States, there is the legalization of many Marijuana plantations for medical marijuana. The case has to be made that this is possible here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is a product for diversification, which has tremendous potential.

Now I must commend the Ras Tafari Movement here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Movement has been able to grow and spread through the humility, hard work, faith and perseverance of many of our elders. I, though, have a serious fundamental problem with the position that we are in at this moment. I must state clearly at this point that I do not speak on behalf of any organisation, but speak with the open eyes of a Ras Tafari Woman.

There is always open criticism by many Ras Tafari on the system in which we live, also criticism on the Government, the Queen of England and all the many other institutions and persons that supposedly oppress us as a people. I am agreeing that in many instances there is real oppression in some form for persons who dare to break from conventional thinking and actions. The oppression that the Movement has to me in some ways reduced from the times when many of our brothers and sisters were ostracized and arrested many times on sight to a time when we have broken many barriers and entered into areas of the society that we were never expected to reach.

Ras Tafari people, I must now emphatically state that at this moment we are our biggest oppressors and obstacles in our own paths. We are the ones who do not put our beliefs and acceptance of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I as the most important unifying factor of our Lives. Here in SVG, we find all kind of reasons to not unite and show the perfect example of how the true way should be.

l We criticize the school systems – but where are our schools?

l We criticize the way government runs the countries affairs – Where is our example of a better Governmental system?

l We talk about healthy living – Where are our organic farms and food co-operatives?

l We talk about problems with accessing financing – Where are the Ras Tafari Cooperatives or Credit Unions?

l We talk about our creed – how many of us live up to it? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, protect the infants and the aged be cared for?

l Where is our social outreach program?

l Where is our environmental protection?

l Where is our voice on issues of national, regional and international importance?

The questions can go on and on. The idea is not to point my finger at anyone, but for each to internalize these issues. It is indeed the time for national healing. It is indeed the time for us to sit down as “a nation within a nation” and chart our course. I hereby make the call for a national summit of the Ras Tafari Movement here in SVG. I think it is time that we really put our shoulders to the wheel. All the talkers need to be quiet and be doers. Blessed love to all.

Peace and love

Angella “Ideisha” Jackson