Happy Birthday, Mr. Garvey

Today is the 132nd birthday of the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, ON, who was born on August 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica.

Unfortunately, I am not an early riser in general. I confess I did not get up in time to attend the floral tributes at his grave in National Heroes Circle, at one end of National Heroes Park. However, I did take these pictures a couple of years ago at that spot – and if you have not been to that section of the park, I would highly recommend it.

Marcus Garvey’s grave in National Heroes Park. (My photo)

There have been a few interesting tweets and comments online today. Irie FM is having a special event tomorrow in Ocho Rios. Garvey influenced the Nation of Islam (among many other movements), and a representative will be speaking.

As for me, I first heard about Marcus Garvey from Burning Spear songs, and looked him up. Here’s one of my favorites by Winston Rodney. I hope Irie FM were playing Mr. Rodney’s heartfelt songs today.

Irie FM has an event at its yard tomorrow in honor of Marcus Garvey, with a live outside broadcast. I don’t know many of the performers, but I think the veterans, such as Earl “Chinna” Smith and Bongo Herman, should be great. Not to mention the dynamic Kingston Drummers!

A couple of comments today struck me. One was Jean Lowrie-Chin’s recommendation  that August 17 should be our official Marcus Garvey Day – that is, celebrated as a public holiday. Although one was declared in 2012 by the Governor General, it is not a holiday. By the way, there is a Marcus Garvey Day in Atlanta, Georgia; in Toronto, Canada; in several African countries; and there is even a statue in Willesden Green Public Library in North West London, where I used to live! The Library celebrated its annual Pan-Africanism Presentation today. Such is Garvey’s influence.

State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Alando Terrelonge posted this photo of himself with a statue of Marcus Garvey today. If I can only find it in my archives, Scheed Cole has created an excellent statue – which stands in Montego Bay next to the S Hotel. Do go and take a look.

London is, of course, the city where Garvey died on June 10, 1940. Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, who passed away in May, was instrumental in ensuring the return of Garvey’s body to Jamaica in 1964 and having him declared as our first National Hero. Here’s an article written by Seaga about Garvey in the Sunday Gleaner just two years ago.

Liberty Hall in downtown Kingston was not to be outdone, however. Our (pretty awesome) Mayor Delroy Williams posted photos on Twitter of events there today:

Liberty Hall is a special place in downtown Kingston. Here’s a photo posted by Mayor Delroy Williams on Twitter today of events there.

It’s oft-quoted here in Jamaica and elsewhere, but here is one Garvey saying that is eternally relevant. Perhaps, though, we don’t really think about it deeply enough. We have not fully absorbed it, if you like. Although it is a popular saying in Jamaica, I think we need to actually think about how we implement this in our daily lives. It is, indeed, something of great value – what we, as humans, are all about, and whether or not we are of African descent, in fact. My feeling is that we must carry our ancestors with us, in our minds and hearts, and be guided. If we do not, we are spiritually lost. A tree without roots, indeed.

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”


4 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Mr. Garvey

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