Take a holiday for Marcus

Take a holiday for Marcus

Observer writer

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Dr Michael Barnett, University of the West Indies lecturer and conceptualiser of the inaugural Marcus Garvey Festival, believes more recognition should be given to the national hero on his birthday.

“Well, he was the first national hero and I'm unapologetically a Garveyite. As the first hero, I see him as the most important. He has accomplished so much and he has the largest movement out of any international leader. It has to be around 10 million,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“He (Garvey) genuinely cared about black empowerment because black people were so undermined and often fell victim to the white supremacy. Now, due to this stature that whites or 'lighter people' have, there has been so much bleaching in our society to try and get that 'browning' look. Garvey said to us as a people: 'stop bleaching'; we haven't listened too well but the message is still relevant. I'm still hoping for August 17th to be a national holiday,” Barnett continued.

The Marcus Garvey Festival was held at House of Reggae on Cargill Avenue in Kingston. And despite competing events, Barnett was pleased with the show, which he intends to be annual.

“We got a crowd of about 80 to 100 persons at the festival; so the venue was sufficient. We had a lot of competition from Unity in The City (gospel show) and so on, so people were distracted. I think it is time that us as Jamaicans officially recognise that August 17th is Marcus Garvey Day,” he said. “My friends can tell you that they won't see me showing up at work on that day. But every year people continue to have their various parties and lymes on the day.

“If many people realised what day it was, then they wouldn't have so many other activities going on.”

According to Barnett, who lectures in sociology and African Diaspora studies, “The highlight for me were probably Fred Locks and History Man; they did really well. Some acts such as Icientcy Mau hadcommunicated that they couldn’t come but it still went well.”

Other acts included Ras Miguel Lorne, Michael Tafari, Steven Golding, Michael Dawson, Minister Clive Muhammed, Mikey General, Earl “Chinna” Smith, Warrior King, Nature Ellis, Written, Steppa-Ginsu and Afrocentricz.

Born in St Ann’s Bay on August 17, 1887, Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a leader of the Pan-African movement, which sought to unify people of African descent.

In the United States, he was a noted civil rights activist who founded the Negro World newspaper, a shipping company called Black Star Line and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, a fraternal organisation of black nationalists.

Garvey died of a stroke on June 10 1940 at the age of 52 in England. His body was brought back to Jamaica in 1964 when he was declared the country’s first National Hero.

In 2012, Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Patrick Allen, proclaimed that August 17th be recognised as Marcus Garvey Day, during a wreath laying ceremony at National Heroes Park in Kingston, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of his birth.

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