The Caribbean Rastafari Organisation 8th Conference
Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2002
THE RASTAFARI PATRIARCHS & MATRIARCHS
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JUBILEE WORLD CONFERENCE
THE CARIBBEAN RASTAFARI ORGANISATION
St.Martin/Anguilla May 23rd-29th 2002
Report and Resolutions
The 8th Conference of the Caribbean Rastafari Organisation (CRO) which was held in St.Martin & Anguilla ,was attended by delegates from Trinidad, St.Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Guadeloupe, St.Kitts, Nevis, St.Thomas (USVI), Anguilla and St.Martin. The opening ceremony at the Omnisports Stadium, Galisbay, commenced with prayers and Nyahbinghi Ises Presentations were made by the Organising Committee and spokespersons from respective organizations in the region. In the absence of the CRO Chairman, Ras Iral Jabari, CRO,s Treasurer, Ras I-Ron Tafari, addressed the gathering on behalf of the Secretariat.
The second day, Friday 24th, began with the presentation of annual reports from CRO members, visiting organizations and individuals. The reports addressed the challenges confronting the Rastafari Community and emphasized the necessity for greater economic development at this point in time. The consideration of relocating the secretariat from Barbados to possibly Antigua was discussed and will be further explored in September when an executive meeting has been proposed to be convened in Barbados. Rotation of the responsibilities of the secretariat every three years was agreed upon at an earlier conference and Barbados has been providing this service from the establishment of CRO in Dominica 2000 as well as previously from 1998 when it functioned as the Eastern Caribbean Rastafari Organisation (ECRO).There was also a proposal to have the next summit in Martinique and a small delegation was selected to visit there in the near future to discuss its feasibility. The Solidarity Foundation was asked to coordinate the visit on behalf of CRO because of Solidarity's bi-lingual ability and communications skills.
In the afternoon session, Sister Keturah Babb, one of the delegates from Barbados, who had attended the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa last year, addressed the gathering on the subject of reparations and repatriation. One of the main points of her presentation dealt with the CRO lobbying more resolutely for the subject of repatriation to be included in the language of the WCAR's Plan of Action document. Other important references were made with respect to debt cancellation, the return of stolen African artifacts/relics, financial assistance in alleviating the AIDS pandemic and a more meaningful approach to the commemoration of Emancipation Day -August 1st-.She stated that for repatriation to be feasible, African governments would have to be approached and engaged in dialogue; also, that Caricom governments would have to be lobbied on the question of reparations.
The morning activities of Saturday May 25th, African Liberation Day, took place at the Solidarity Rastafari Tabernacle where the uplifting and energetic prayers and ises were administered by High Priest Fayaco, Ras Touzah Jah Bash and Ras Trini. In the evening, the celebrations at the Richards Stadium saw a huge and appreciable crowd witness a disciplined and enjoyable display of excellent cultural presentations mainly from the local St.Martin and Anguilla Rastafari communities.
The following day, Sunday May 26th was reserved for the exposition and marketing of Arts and Craft which is a regular feature of these summits and which introduces an economic and cultural element to the activities of our Rastafari community. The attendance at this event was moderate although more visitors and patrons supported it in the afternoon segment.
The second phase of the summit unfolded on the next day when all delegates journeyed to the neighbouring island of Anguilla .Delegates were greeted at the Blowing Point Port with the drumming and chanting of the David House Solomonic Gathly and then transported to 'The Dune' where I&I dwelled for the duration of our stay on the island. In the evening, there was a panel discussion on Rastafari - The Healing of the Nation -which was chaired by Bongo Shaka from Wadadli (Antigua).Presentations were delivered by Jah Bash Touzah on the subject of Spiritual Edification, Ras Frank-I Tafari of the Wadadli Council for the Advancement of Rastafari who presented the 'Case for the Hola Herb' with Sisters Asheba (B'dos) & Ijahnya (Anguilla) giving contributions as well on the topics of the Rastafari Family and Repatriation respectively.The overview from these debates was for Rastafari to achieve greater harmony by becoming spiritually stronger while at the same time centralizing and organizing ourselves for Reparations and Repatriation.
The Tuesday's activities of the conference consisted of a trip to Irie Acres where an intense workshop on Sustainable Agriculture was held. The proceedings got under way after the morning's Nyahbinghi Ises and were chaired by Bongo Wisely, the Chairman of CRO's Agriculture sub-committee. Minutes from the previous Agriculture workshop in St.Kitts (2001) were delivered by Ras Frank-I Bongo Wisely then began his contribution by quoting speeches from H.I.M. pertaining to agriculture and then proceeded to report on initiatives currently being worked on in St.Lucia with respect to soya-bean production. Varieties of soya-bean seeds were then distributed among some CRO members so that a seed bank could be established and ultimately result in an overall Organic Farming Network in this region. Other input on the subject came from Ras I-Ron of the Kornerstone Organic Farm in Barbados (Ichirouganaim).Areas such as niche markets, dangers of pesticides/herbicides to health, horizontal networking, regional trade and bee pollination were discussed at length. On the subject of trade, participants were unanimous that there was need for marine transport and a committee was set up to research and see how feasible it would be for I&I to acquire such transport as a long term investment that could facilitate our trade and travel in the region. On the afternoon following the Agriculture Committee Meeting, the gathering exhibited their craft at the Arts & Craft Centre in the Valley.
Our return to the Dune Preserve that night saw us witnessing a presentation by one of the delegates from Barbados, Sister Fortunia, who shared her experiences on the African continent as they compared with her sojourn amongst I&I in the Caribbean. Our host, Bankie -Banx a stalwart in the reggae world, then provided us with top class entertainment into the wee hours of the morning.
Our return to St.Martin the following morning was uneventful, however, the rest of the day was spent with some brethren & sistren making sure that the final reports and resolutions were documented .In the evening, the Solidarity Rastafari Organisation distributed certificates of appreciation to all who had participated in this well organized and edifying gathering of Rastafari from various houses and mansions of this hemisphere. The programme concluded with a rousing, riveting Nyahbinghi Ises where all ones bade their farewell as they prepared to return to their respective places of abode. One bright morning when my work is over, I will fly away home. Jah Guide.
P.S.I&I from the secretariat and from the family of Ras Iral, Sister Margaret, Ras Makonnen & Daughter Metasebia express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation of the kind words and tributes paid by Elder King Frank-I and everyone else during the issembly with respect to the transition of our son, brother, friend and Nyahbinghi youth-man Hailu Abebe Talma who succumbed to a chronic liver ailment on May 15th 2002. This fire-man was a fixture in previous CRO summits and was loved by all. One remembers in the 1997 gathering in St.Croix when Hailu entered the Tabernacle about 4.00A.M.in the morning and on noticing most persons near slumber, shouted 'FIYAH' and 'JAH RASTAFARI' thus reviving everyone and causing I&I Elders Bongo Rocky & Sister Baby-I to respond that 'Hailu is a blessed youth; take good care of him' .His work amongst us is now over, but his love and pleasant disposition will remain an iternal example for I and I to emulate. Praises to I&I Father H.I.M. Haile Selassie Ist Jah Rastafari.
Having met in the islands of St. Martin and Anguilla from May 23rd to 29th 2002,and expressing great appreciation for the hospitality and love bestowed on I and I by our hosts in the respective islands, we the members of the Caribbean Rastafari Organisation :
1.Abhor the apathy of Caribbean governments towards the issue of Reparations/Repatriation with respect to the recently held United Nations sponsored World Conference Against Racism in South Africa, and are resolved to agitate and lobby individual Governments and Caricom Heads of Government to immediately institute the procedures to secure Reparations and Repatriation for the people of African descent they represent.
2.Urge Caribbean Governments to amend any laws on the statute books which may criminalize the cultivation and use of cannabis, taking into consideration a September 2001 declaration in the High Court of Antigua acknowledging Rastafari's right to the sacramental use of the herb while supporting the Jamaican Prime Minister's attempts to institute the findings of his Government's Marijuana Commission
3. Recommend the establishment of an Organic Farmer's Network among CRO members .
4. Recommend that the Health and Nutrition Committee of the CRO arrange Health Seminars in the various islands. Selah.
Compiled June 28th 2002
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