September 2010 Volume 7

UWI Report on Rastafari – 50th Anniversary Conference

Basil Waite
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The University of the West Indies recently hosted a Rastafari Studies Conference at the Kenneth Hall Lecture Theatre, Faculty of Humanities & Education, Mona Campus. The conference which ran from August 17th to 20th was held under the theme, "Negotiating the African Presence -Rastafari Levity and Scholarship." It was held as the 50th Commemoration of the UWI report on 'The Rastafarian Movement in Kingston."

In 1960, Vice Chancellor, Sir Arthur Lewis, commissioned a report on the movement following protest action and receipt of a delegation led by Mortimer Plano at the undercroft. The team that conducted the study comprised lecturers Roy Augier, MG Smith and Rex Nettleford. They handed over the landmark study to the vice chancellor in good time and it formed the basis of the positive relationship between the movement and the university as well served to sensitize the Jamaican public to the positive role the Rastafarian movement played in the development of the country and advancing the consciousness and acceptance of the concept of repatriation, Garveyism and Africa redemption.

The gathering at Mona brought together Rastafarians, lecturers and sympathizers from the Caribbean and the Diaspora for over four days of reasoning and assessment of the impact of the watershed study on the advancement and challenges of the Rastafarian movement over the past 50 years. Other reasonings were held at the Institute of Jamaica and Bob Marley museum.

This author was present on August 20 when King Franki of Antigua presented a paper on Repatriation. Dr Fred Hickling chaired the panel discussion.

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