Columns

Marcus Garvey's mission recalled

Ken Chaplin

Tuesday, September 04, 2012    

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LEN S Nembhard who died many years ago must be in high spirits and shouting words of acclamation - wherever he is - over the high-level celebration of Marcus Garvey Day recently. Although Garvey was made a National Hero many years ago, there has been little significant national recognition of his work and life since that time, to lift the image of black people in Jamaica and across the globe and to give them an identity.

Journalist and author Len Nembhard, who was my eldest brother, was one of the first and few people who put Garvey on the national and international grid, placed him on a high pedestal and gave him the rich place he deserves in history in his book, Trials and Triumphs of Marcus Garvey, which was first published more than 70 years ago and reprinted in 1978. The book occupies a prominent place in the Library of Congress in the United States of America. Nembhard was a sub-editor of the Daily Gleaner and editor of Jamaica Times and the Public Opinion newspapers.

Earlier this year Nembhard was named by the Jenni Campbell Press Association of Jamaica administration to the Journalism Hall of Fame. The process for the establishment of the Hall of Fame was initiated five years ago by Desmond Richards, then editor of the Sunday Herald and president of the PAJ, and completed by Campbell this year.

In his Trials and Triumphs of Marcus Garvey, Nembhard projects vividly the mission and message of Garvey and dedicated it to the negro people of the world. "A large part of the book is devoted to the prosecution and the persecution of this undoubtedly great leader of the black race and to his own defence, leaving it to the reader to pass judgement," writes the author in the introduction to the book.

A man for all seasons

Nembhard continues: "He was a man for all seasons, a prophet of liberation, who must be accorded a distinguished place as one of earliest thinkers in political and psychological terms of any race, although he was neither nationally or internationally understood until the violent struggle for the black man's freedom really began after the Second World War."

The author points out that the misunderstanding, even among some of his own race, has a tragic explanation. Their minds were still enslaved to the political, economic and cultural system of a European culture which militated against a genuine sense of black brotherhood and stultified their sense of racial dignity and social and economic development.

Marcus Garvey sought to bring light, knowledge, pride and creativity to the minds clouded with illiteracy and ignorance, in the hope of ending the carefully nurtured sense of inferiority.

Garvey came into the world with the capacity for greatness, writes Nembhard. It was a world of entrenched racism and economic and social deprivation that this vision and courage brought new racial pride to millions within and far beyond the shores of his native land, the author notes.

Stop it, please

Some Jamaican journalists and columnists are now copying the practice of American journalists of commenting on a case before the court. This should not be done lest we start trying cases in the media, as happens in the United States of America. Once a case begins in court which starts when the accused is first brought before the judge, all comments should cease. In my view there should be no comment after a person has been arrested and charged.

Indeed, it is deemed contempt of court to comment on the evidence once the trial has begun, and judges should start applying the law. Once the case is over and a judgement or verdict is reached, comment is permitted even though the accused has appealed.

There have been slip-ups by journalists from time to time and the Press Association of Jamaica ought to put on a seminar to deal with contempt of court and the libel and defamation laws. I know the association has in the past held seminars on the latter, but it is time to repeat them.

Death of a giant

Wally Zink, public servant, sportsman, recognised magician, faithful Rosicrucian and beauty contest judge, died recently at the age of 97. He was the first public relations officer of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation.

The KSAC was my first beat as a journalist and Zink was most cooperative in the 1950s in providing me with information about the KSAC activities and views of the council. Because of my almost daily contact with the public relations office I met his secretary, Joan Elaine Gruber, who became by wife more than 50 years ago. She did not return to work at the KSAC after we got married, and Wally, with the remarkable humour for which he was noted, accused me of stealing his secretary. I usually replied that his magic was not profound enough to keep her.

But seriously, Wally was an outstanding secretary general of the Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers, aggressively defending the rights of local government workers and not allowing politicians to push them around as often happens nowadays.

JALGO had a strong voice in local government affairs and as he used to say, "Local government is closest to the heart of the people."

Wally was a strong administrator of softball when Duppy Gate, Up Park Camp, was the centre of the game. He played a significant part in the early development of the game. As commissioner of softball, "Zink played the game fairly". A giant has passed on.

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