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'Hero' Marley would have prevented Pinnacle stand-off

Basil Walters

Monday, February 03, 2014    

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THE current stand-off between members of the Rastafarian faith and private developers over Pinnacle in St Catherine would not exist had reggae legend Bob Marley been declared a national hero.

That view was put forward last Thursday by motivational speaker Kevin Wallen as he addressed a sensitisation rally at Mandela Park in Half-Way-Tree to heighten public awareness about Pinnacle, said to be the first home of Rastafari.

Members of the community residing there have been served with a court order to vacate the property by January 31, but contend that they are the rightful owners and are to appeal the matter in court today.

The other point of contention is that a quarter acre of the over 500-acre property, which stretches from Tredegar Park to Sligoville Road in Spanish Town, was last September declared a national monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. On that basis, lawyers representing the rastafarians argue that Pinnacle is a heritage site for an indigenous people and should be protected under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As far as Wallen is concerned, resolving the issue has to be viewed in a socio-cultural context.

"Once Bob Marley is made a national hero, then the situation of Pinnacle will change," Wallen told the gathering of mainly Rastafarians.

"Rastas should be all over that place. There should be no question about that. But if that socio-cultural framework is not set by Rastas, nutten nah go change. Until it is recognised that the spiritual revolution that is sweeping across the world began at Pinnacle and that Bob Marley took the message of Rastafari to every corner of this Earth, the issue won't be settled. Bob Marley needs to be made a national hero for it to be settled. That is the position I put on the table," he stressed.

Dubbed Ethiopians Rising, the over five-hour-long rally was put on by Donisha Prendergrast, Marley's granddaughter, in association with the Rastafari Youth Council and Millennium Council under the theme Might Cannot Defeat Right.

"The reason we chose to call it Ethiopians Rising is that Leonard Howell, the principal founder of Rastafari — the Ethiopian Salvation, established Pinnacle as the first Rastafari commune," Prendergrast explained.

"It is the Ethiopians in us that is rising," she added.

Pinnacle served as a lookout point during the Spanish occupation of the island. Howell lived there in the 1930s. He died in 1981, the same year Marley — who called himself The Gong after Howell — also died.

Thursdays rally also featured panel discussions on the issue, Nyahbinghi chantings and musical performances by a number of entertainers such as History Man, Robert Mystic and others.

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