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It's time to mainstream Marcus Garvey

Jean
Lowrie-Chin

Monday, August 20, 2018

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Born in Jamaica on August 17, 1887, our first National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey took the world stage by storm with an estimated membership of over four million worldwide in his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which he had launched in Jamaica in 1914. There was a groundswell of plaudits on his birthday, stirring my memory of that very special day at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

I remember August 17, 2008 when my husband Hubie and I were on our way to the Bird's Nest. “We have to get a gold for Marcus Garvey's birthday,” I said to him. I was admittedly a bit ambitious as we had already earned two gold medals, and there were rumours that Shelly-Ann Fraser was not at her fittest. This was her first Olympic 100-metre final, along with teammates Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart.

We were on our feet even before the starter's gun. And, as they stormed to the finish with our “Pocket Rocket” in the lead, we shouted, “One-two-three!” But a Russian looked at the board and shouted back, “No, Jamaica! It is one-two-two!” Later, as we stood teary-eyed for Jamaica's National Anthem, two Jamaican flags made their way up the poles.”

I remember returning to the hotel that evening and, clicking on the Marcus Garvey website, only to see a medal in the masthead, and his words, “Look for me in the whirlwind.” Talk about ancestral power!

Professors and writers have worked to keep Garvey's philosophy alive, including a compilation by Garvey's late wife, Amy Jacques Garvey, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey; Ken Jones' Marcus Garvey Said…; Professor Robert Hill's 12-volume collection, Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, which was acquired by Duke University in 2015 along with 300 boxes of material which he had begun compiling in 1970, and Professor Rupert Lewis's publications, including Marcus Garvey and Garvey – Africa, Europe and the Americas.

In recent conversations with Emprezz Golding and Dr Leahcim Semaj, who shares a birthday with the great man, we agreed that if Garvey's teachings had been mainstreamed since 1962 Jamaica would not be facing the issues of indiscipline and low productivity today.

I learned only last week from Justine Henzell that her father, the late Perry Henzell, had written a play on Garvey for his centenary, and it is among the archives at Liberty Hall. Like Trevor Rhone's Old Story Time, this play should be a part of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examination material and syllabus, as well as performed all over Jamaica.

With one political administration after the other refusing to fully incorporate Garvey's works into primary and secondary curricula it leads you to wonder if Garvey's message of dignity and self-reliance is counter to our political culture of conflict and dependence. No one who recognises their worth would be hanging out of bus windows on their way to party conferences, chasing down curry goat and T-shirts, and be willing to terrorise those who will not wear the orange or the green.

The challenge to both political parties is therefore a return to Garvey's teachings and the fraternal collaboration between the founders of their two parties, Sir Alexander Bustamante and Norman W Manley. Jamaicans have become weary of the finger-pointing and yearn for compassionate leadership. How can it be that 30 per cent of our population are said to be squatters? Those politicians who have been encouraging this behaviour to shore up votes — instead of seeking legitimate housing for their constituents — need to be outed.

This is a time for courage; a time when hard-working, decent politicians must stand up to the ones who are painting politics as a dishonourable calling. In 1923, Marcus Garvey wrote, “When Garvey dies, a million Garveys will rise up.” Jamaica is waiting and hoping.

Icons of advertising

At the Advertising Agencies Association of Jamaica (AAAJ) event last Thursday we saw a spritely 94-year-old Joyce Lindo, founder of Lindo FCB, mount the stage to receive the AAAJ Lifetime Award. For a woman to step out in this field at a time when we were being told that our place was in the home, fills us, her fellow women in advertising, with gratitude.

Advertising guru Adrian Robinson was likewise honoured, and we cannot forget his stroke of genius in giving that great resort chain the name which resonates on cable worldwide — Sandals. Arnold “Junior” Foote was presented with this award several years ago.

Agency owners who had served the industry for over 20 years also received Stalwart Awards: Beverly Hirst, Terri Williams, Gurney Beckford, Robert MacMillan, Oral McCook, Anthony Gambrill, and yours truly.

Agency representatives selected the following media for top recognition: Overall Winner, Mello; Print – Jamaica Observer; Radio – Mello; Non-Traditional – Trend; Outdoor – Caledonia; Printer – Lithographic; Magazine – Buzzz. Big thanks to AAAJ President Kingsley Morris, Media Awards Chair Stephanie McGibbon, and Stalwarts Chair Wayne Stewart, all volunteers, for pulling off an excellent event.

We in the advertising industry are proud of the brands we have built to contribute significantly to the development of our economy. Our code of ethics keeps us grounded, even as the galloping technology challenges us to move with the times. We work with production houses, copywriters, artists, photographers, brand ambassadors, and musicians to create standout messages in a super-competitive environment. Before we start the work we know we must do some serious listening to the most important people in the whole scheme of things — you, the customer.

Farewell, Queen Aretha

Tributes have flooded the media on the loss of the world's “Queen of Soul”, Aretha Franklin. She has sung our generation through love and militancy. We women embraced her Respect song anthem at a time when we were taking our places in business and politics.

Aretha Franklin was a teenage mother whose rise reminds us that everyone deserves a chance at greatness. She started singing in church and witnessed to her Christian faith throughout her extraordinary life. Despite her many awards and honours she remained humble and accessible, leaving us with a voice that will forever stir our souls and warm our hearts.

On a British Airways flight to Delhi many years ago I sat with V S Naipaul's India: A Wounded Civilization in hand when an Indian lady approached me and warned that Naipaul was unreasonably hard on her country. The gruff Nobel Laureate pulled no punches as he criticised the post-colonial behaviour of various countries, including his native Trinidad. Yes, he was trenchant, even ruthless, but who could resist his brilliant, bewitching storytelling? We give thanks that we had a master in our midst.

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com

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