Rasta elder Sam Clayton is dead

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Saturday, November 03, 2018

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SAM Clayton, the passionate Rastafari who took over the reins of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari (MRR) after Count Ossie's death, died on Wednesday in Kingston. He was 83 years old.

Clayton was the griot (storyteller) for the veteran roots troupe which celebrates its 70th anniversary next year. He had been in poor health for over a decade and was unable to perform with the group, which is based in east Kingston.

Among those hailing Clayton was Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange, who said, “I had a close personal relationship with him and I will miss him.”

Herbie Miller, curator at the Jamaica Music Museum, knew Clayton for over 45 years. He told the Jamaica Observer that the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica lost a dedicated soldier who was unapologetic about his love for the faith, and black pride.

“Sam was intelligent, well-informed, opinionated and confident as an African. He was eager to uplift and educate people about Rastafari and the culture,” said Miller.

In a 1999 interview with the Jamaica Observer,Clayton said his association with MRR began in 1961 when he met Count Ossie (Oswald Williams). That year, he was part of a fact-finding trip to Africa sanctioned by the Jamaican government.Filmore Alvaranga of the MRR and and Douglas Mack were also part of that mission which met with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Grange noted that when Selassie visited Jamaica in April 1966, Clayton was one of 12 Rastafarians he presented with gold medals.

Clayton was the last member of the classic MRR line-up that recorded the seminal Groundation and Tales of Mozambique albums in 1973 and 1975, respectively.

Count Ossie died in 1976 in a motor accident, while Alvaranga passed away four years ago.

In the 1990s, Clayton managed the MRR on visits to France where they performed to appreciative audiences. A former teacher at Kingston Technical High School, Miller noted that he never lost his passion for education.

“Sam had intellectual ability and that helped him to translate his message through the rhythms of Rastafari,” said Miller.

The thanksgiving service for the life of Sam Clayton will be announced.

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