New Garvey book aimed at primary-level students

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter

Sunday, August 17, 2014

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YESTERDAY marked the 127th anniversary of the birth of National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

But, despite being made Jamaica's first national hero in 1964, hailed as a hero of the black nationalist and back-to-Africa movements globally, and an idol of roots reggae musicians, many Jamaicans still believe that Garvey has still not received the recognition he deserves at home.

Among this discerning group is Dr Adrian Mandara (pronounced Mandra) whose latest book, Up You Mighty Race: An Introduction to Marcus Garvey, has been published by LMH Publishing Limited in time for the birthday anniversary as well as the opening of the 2014/15 school year.

Dr Mandara's book is, essentially, aimed at exploiting the opportunities created by the effort to introduce a formal Garveyism programme into local schools, starting at the primary level; as well as the growing interest in Garvey's philosophy encouraged by his resurgent Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the immortal music of Bob Marley and the Wailers, and Burning Spear.

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites announced in 2012 that the teachings and philosophies of Garvey would be fully launched in the new academic year 2012/2013, completing a process started some years previously. However, the programme is yet to become fully implemented and no one seems sure about the reading material available, especially at the primary school level.

But Dr Mandara thinks he is about to change that.

"I have always had an interest in Garvey and his teachings. To me, he was a man before his time," he told the Jamaica Observer last Thursday.

That belief, he said, led him to create a primary reader, light enough to introduce the subject to primary/preparatory schoolchildren, but wide enough to create the basis for a programme which will carry on into the primary and secondary levels.

"It is a shame the little that the children, at the primary level especially, know about Garvey. They are not being taught civics. They do a little civics in third form in high school, and that's all. How many students know that Marcus Garvey even led a political party in Jamaica?" he asked.

Dr Mandara is an experienced educator who, up to recently, was on the staff of Wolmer's Preparatory School. He is also an international author, motivational speaker and business administration consultant, who has worked internationally for over 40 years in his areas of specialisation.

He said that in order to instil respect in the minds of Jamaicans for Jamaica's first national hero, it is best to start at the primary level and continue the process into the high schools, hence the importance of his book.

However, he is concerned that the Ministry of Education is dictating to the schools what books they must use, which could affect the availability of his book to students in public schools.

"That's sick. I want to see how far this book goes in the primary school system in changing that situation," he added.

Dr Mandara dedicated his book to "the many well-thinking Jamaicans, tired of the struggle, but who still dream the dreams and still keep faith".

Up You Mighty Race reiterates the basic history of Garvey, dating back to his birth in 1887; and the fact that he migrated from his hometown of St Ann's Bay to Kingston as a young man and developed talents as a journalist, publisher, businessman and orator; as well as becoming the leader of an international movement which spawned black nationalism, black economic development and Pan-Africanism.

But being a primer, it doesn't give too much detail, including about Garvey's extensive travels, observing the poor working and living conditions of black people.

In 1916, Garvey went to the USA where he preached his doctrine of freedom to the oppressed blacks throughout the country. He was convicted and imprisoned in the USA in 1923, based on accusations of fraud connected with the Black Star Shipping Line, which he founded. He returned to Jamaica in 1927, and continued his political activity, forming the People's Political Party (PPP) in 1929.

In 1929, Garvey was elected to the Kingston and St Andrew Council (KSAC), but was unable to take the Oath of Office after he was thrown out for failing to attend meetings, which was primarily due to his imprisonment for criticising the justice system. He had appealed for leave from the council, but the solicitor for the KSAC, Norman Manley -- who is now another Jamaican national hero -- advised against it and the council rejected the application.

After Garvey returned from prison he was allowed to take his seat, but the seat was declared vacant and a by-election was ordered. On nomination day, Garvey was returned to the council unopposed, but this triggered another heated confrontation with Manley.

By the early 1930s, Garvey realised that his ideas were too premature for colonial Jamaica. He left the country again, this time for England where he died on June 10, 1940.

Garvey's story might have ended there and then, except for the passion of his loyal supporters in the UNIA; the emerging Rastafari movement, which took a liking to his Back-to-Africa focus; and a young Jamaica politician named Edward Seaga, who was determined that he should be named Jamaica's first national hero, leading to the return of his bones from London and their reinterment in National Heroes Park in 1964.




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