Marcus Mosiah Garvey

It is said, that ‘A King, has no honour in his own Country’. Sadly, this seems to be the historic case here in Jamaica, when it comes to treating with its own Heroes, be they International, National, or Folk Heroes.

On Thursday, 17th August, (A few days ago), the world celebrated the 136th anniversary of the birth, of International Human Rights Campaigner, Pan-Africanist, Visionary, and National Hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey. But if you were in Jamaica and expecting some kind of fanfare to herald Garvey’s birthday, then you would have been, seriously disappointed, as there was no official commemoration to mark the occasion. 

Not that there was no commemoration, as there were a number of such events, but these were, for the most part, low-keyed events, organized by existing Garveite Societies and or other related organizations. 

Clearly, the message of Garvey, that rallied and united Africans at home and abroad, was of no little import or significance, to the Political directorate, so it was treated with scant regard and mostly Official disrespect.

Not that this is new, as this Government still harbours within its ranks, some, whose self-hatred, is in direct contradiction to the doctrine of self-love and the universal brotherhood of Africans; and others who despite being descendants of the plantation, seek to identify as White, or worse, ‘Brown, as they are desperate to distance themselves from their blackness. 

That Marcus Garvey was unapologetically black, unabashedly Afro-centric, and, unashamedly pan-Africanist – All the things that the pretentious bourgeois Jamaican identifies with, explain their disdain and the studious ignorance they adopt in matters relating to Garvey and or Blacness.

Marcus Garvey
These people, who now lead us, often pay lip service to Garvey and his ideals, when it is opportune for a photo-op, but in reality, identify more with the standards of Garvey’s oppressors, rather than with Garvey, his preachings, and his politics. The problem for those who would now claim the political mantle of Marcus Garvey is that they are not worthy, and lack the intellectual and historical credibility to speak credibly in his name or any platform he espoused. Imagine, Garvey, a celebrated international Freedom Fighter, his teachings, philosophy, and precepts are understood globally and underpin many African States, but Garvey, remains a mystery in his own Country. Despite our pretense of being an Independent Country, free to anoint our own Heroes, we still do not teach Garveyism, as we are reticent to do so, out of fear, of offending the sensibilities of the Oppressors. We do not have a curriculum setting forth his history, philosophy, and mantra of self-reliance. 136 years after his birth, and 83 years after his demise, Jamaica is yet to fully grasp and or embrace the role of Marcus Garvey in the international struggle for black liberation. The scourge of White Supremacists, his teachings inspired Leaders of the Nation of Islam, Rastaraians, Pan-Africanists, the Black-Power Movement, and most contemporary freedom fighters, but yet, we still seem to struggle with the notion of making him a central figure, in our national narrative, when it comes to freeing ourselves from the mental slavery some so gladly and glibly embrace, The journey of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a “little black boy,” from the bowels of St. Ann, who educated himself at a time when doing so, was criminal, but whose thirst for knowledge about the black-self, history, and people, outweighed any other considerations, and made him eminently aware and preeminent authority on the universal oneness of Black-People, whether in the Diaspora or on the Continent of Africa. Garvey’s grasp and knowledge, of the historical fact that before we (Blacks) were enslaved, we were Kings, Queens, Chiefs, Chieftains, Elders, and Leaders, who provided for our people Spiritually, Emotionally, Communally and Socially, before we were cruelly plucked from the arms of our kin, ancestral homes and separated from our history, transported to a foreign land and climes, to be dehumanized and brainwashed into thinking that we were the Children of a Lesser God, whose sole purpose was to serve our oppressors, and heap praises unto this foreign deity, in order to receive his redemption. It is really quite difficult to say, which impacted Garvey, more, the Knowledge of our past, which was skillfully being eroded and whitewashed, or the benign acceptance of many of the roles they were assigned. The fact is, the realization that some accepted the new status quo, rather than questioned it, was enough to break the heart of even a lion, such as Garvey.
The Birthplace of Marcus Garvey in St Ann's Bay, Jamaica

It seems that all Garvey wanted, for his fellow Africans back home in Africa and Scattered across the diaspora, was that they shared or opened themselves up to accept the Knowledge which empowered and liberated him from groveling, at the feet, pillars, and or shrines, established to glorify cultural and historical thieves, who had cloaked themselves in Black History, as if it were their own, whilst subjugating Blacks to a life that was less than. 

In his magnanimity, and to his eternal credit as a humanist, Marcus Garvey, did not preach revenge, retribution, or even sought reparations. His platform was ‘Africa For Africans, At Home and Abroad’. So repatriation was his working mantra and fuelled his Black-Star-Line Shipping company, established under the aegis of the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association), The Black Star Line, was about supporting the repatriation, of Africans, to Africa.

That Marcus Garvey became the Most feared Blackman in the United States and Globally, was no accident, as his message resonated with the dispossessed blacks across the United States and the World. No wonder that to silence him, the US Government Trumped up charges of Mail-Fraud, to secure a criminal conviction to both silence and intimidate him. That the conviction still stands, today speaks to the ineffectual Foreign Policies of those who would claim to be custodians and or Guardians of the Legacy, of Jamaica’s First National Hero Marcus-Mosiah Garvey – the little Black boy from St. Ann, whose global advocacy, reordered the world. 

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