Queen's visit Stirs Reparation Fires
Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2002
Posted By: Makeda
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The 3-day visit last week to Jamaica of Queen Elizabeth of England as part of her Jubilee Year tour of the Commonwealth, may have been intended to reinforce the supremacy of the British monarchy over its subjects in the colony of Jamaica. Though vestiges of 'shero'-worship still manifested in the Union Jack flag-waving crowds and military pomp, the overwhelming issue of the week was the Rastafari call for Reparations and Repatriation.
Determined to make every effort to present these fundamental Rastafari pcinciples to Her Majesty the Queen, the Rastafari community mounted various peaceful and diplomatic assaults on the British head of state, using the media, public demonstrations and an unprecedented legal suit against the Queen herself.
The BoboShanti community were the first to make their presence felt. Dressed in white robes and colourful turbans, beating drums and chanting Nyabinghi hymns, waving flags and banners, the Bobos stood in the sun at the roundabout leading from the airport into Kingston as the Queen and her entourage drove speedily past. The Queen may have been in a hurry, but the media stayed to interview the Bobos and hear first hand of the call for "Repatriation with Reparations!".
Another group of Rases persuaded the Public Defender, W.C. Howard Hamilton, to present a petition for Repatriation and Reparations to the Queen. This had to be done via a royal protocol officer, but the Rases were allowed to be present at Kings House with the Public Defender when it was presented., though they were not allowed to carry flags or banners.
On Wednesday, attorney-at-law Ras Miguel Lorne sued the Queen, filing an unprecedented legal demand against the British monarch for Reparations which received much media attention. Lorne had also hoped to present his legal papers to the Queen at Kings House, but was barred from entering the gate and had to present them to the secretary of the Governor General's secretary.
Another major Rastafari presence was visible when Queen Elizabeth visited Montego Bay for the opening of the City's Civic Center. There Ras Astor Black had managed to capture a piece of sidewalk under a tree, from which scores of Rastafari flags flew visibly each time the camera features the monarch. The Queen's tour of the Civic Center, with its relics of slavery including a hangman's noose, shackles and chains, was conducted by the museum's Rastafarian curator, and for ten minutes the Queen walked and talked side by side with a Rasta man.
As a result of all the above activities, the issue of Reparations became the Topic of the Week. Each day talk shows and radio news magazine programmes covered the subject of Reparations in depth and from various aspects. Members of the recently-launched Jamaica Reparations Movement, of which I am co-ordinator, have been interviewed on several of these programmes. The Sunday current affairs programme aired midday on TVJ focuses on Reparations, with interviews with myself and international reparations lawer expert, Lord Anthony Gifford.
The JaRM is now setting up Reparations committees in each Parish, working towards a national conference later this year.
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