Category Archives: Human Rights

The Netherlands Never Let Us Down!

Yes Mi Irieites!

With only one more show to go, Eindhoven, we performed our second to last show in Amsterdam at the Melkweg, last night.  And if the truth were known, the crowd was electrifying as ever.  Please allow me to rephrase that; the “Nether Lands” has “Never Let us down.”

alanderson
Incidentally, Al Anderson came backstage with his family.  We had no idea he was there or else we would have presented him on stage for old time’s sake.  Least we not forget that it was here in Holland that we shared the same stage with Al when he was one of the lead guitar players for Bob Marley and the Wailers, 35 years ago! Fret not, we hope to feature him for a brief moment in our long over due documentary.  We hope that your wait will be significant..

On another note, I found time to check the Anne Frank museum here in Amsterdam and although the queue was halfway around the block, it was worth the wait, believe me.  At first, I was feeling quite agitated, knowing that the tour bus would be leaving midday, sharp.  I am already known for my lateness.  But finally, we, (Rande the merchandise guy) and I got in viewed managed to view all; enlightening and forever memorable.

Anne Frank was Special.  Her energy during those time will remain with me, forever.

Bless!

30th Anniversary – Maurice Bishop (29th May 1944 – 19th October 1983): The Fight Against Fascism Continues

Yes Mi Irieites,

ADN-ZB Häßler 11.6.1982 Bez. Dresden: Maurice Bishop, Vorsitzender des Politbüros des ZK der Neuen Jewel-Bewegung und Ministerpräsident der Revolutionären Volksregierung Grenadas, besuchte die LPG in Niederkaina, Kreis Bautzen. Hier bei einem Meeting mit Genossenschafstbauern und Arbeitern der LPG.It appears that October has been a landmark for many a revolutionary.  First it was Hugh Mundell, then Thomas Sankara and now the Right Honorable Maurice Bishop, the second Prime Minister of the island of Grenada.

Bishop became Grenada’s Prime Minister after seizing power from his predecessor Eric Gairy in a coup, while Gairy was out of the country on business (March 1979).

In the course of his administration Bishop had formed several organisations: the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada (P.R.G.G), People’s Revolutionary Army (P.R.A), New Jewel Movement (N.J.M), just to name a few.  This development was triggered while studying in the UK.  And although he majored in the subjects of Law and Economics, it was during this period that he got heavily influenced into campaigning against racial discrimination in Britain as well as being proactive with the Black Power movement of the USA.

So in the eyes of the Grenadian Population, things were looking positive and bright for Bishop once he took charge, until he aligned himself with Cuba.  This initiated an alliance where various projects were to be carried out that he thought would benefit the island.  One of the projects involved was the construction of a new international airstrip that was to be located in the southern region of the island.  This was a project that was once proposed by the British while the country was still colonised.  However, it did not favour well with the US, who, as far as they were concerned, believed that it was a plan to be served as a landing strip to accommodate Russian military aircraft, etc.

As well as US opposition, Maurice was also getting a hard time with those within his own administration who thought that these projects and organisations were a waste of the taxpayer’s money. A proposal for joint leadership was refused by Bishop.

It was in the first week of October 1983, when things grinded to a halt.  Bishop, was placed under house arrest by the Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard.  His incarceration didn’t last very long once the people got news as to what had happened.  The protesting got to such a height that he was immediately released.  But within two weeks of the protest, Bishop, as well as close family members and a part of his administration, were rounded up once again and taken into custody.  They were all placed against a wall outside of where they were confined and got massacred by a firing squad later that day.  Finally, an invasion by the US ultimately took place October 25th, stopping all Cuban participation on building the airport strip.

Maurice Bishop will rise up in history as the bravest leader the Caribbean has ever had in recent times.  His stance in favour of working class rights, women rights, and education as well as his stance against racism, Apartheid and sex discrimination has already been noted by those of us who are conscious and concerned in the affairs of the diaspora.

Come to think of it these ideals are a carbon copy of Thomas Sankara’s blueprint policies to elevate all of Africa.  Unfortunately, we are living in times where all great revolutionary thinkers get cut down in their prime by their peers, especially peers that are suppose to be working with you side by side, each day.  The airport was built and was named Point Salines International Airport but was renamed in honour of the New Jewel Movement leader, “Maurice Bishop,” in 2009.

Here’s a an excerpt from a speech on fascism by Maurice Bishop:

“… the extremely undemocratic, repressive and corrupt nature of the puppet Regimes carefully trained and promoted from among local professionals and bureaucrats by Imperialism to maintain their presence on the backs of our people, is a very consistent Caribbean condition.”

And with only four months to go for Grenada’s 40th anniversary of Independence, here is Steel Pulse’s tribute to the “Real Spice” of Grenada.

Maurice Bishop, Ya Big!!

Incidentally, this is also the 30th anniversary since the Pulse embarked on our first Caribbean tour.

PS -  a Happy Birthday to another icon and revolutionary: Peter Tosh!

Thomas Sankara: Dec 21, 1949 – Oct 15, 1987

Yes Mi Irieites,

ThomasSankara
Once again we take time out to pay homage to who, as far as we’re concerned, one of the greatest African leaders of all time, Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara, the leader of Burkina Faso, who was assassinated in a coup d’etat on this day October 15th 1987.

As a matter of fact it was only 2 months ago that this African president had reached his commemorated milestone of 30 years since he took power (August 4th,1983), at the age of 33.  On taking power he renamed the once colonised “Upper Volta” to Burkina Faso, meaning, “Land of Upright People.”

Whilst Sankara’s ideals were a good template for all of Africa, there was that faction of the elite within his country and administration that were not supportive of his policies, consequently, toppling him from authority to ultimate murder.   This is an excerpt from a speech he made a week before his untimely demise;

“While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered you can not kill ideas.”

So here’s a tribute to a great leader, and may I add, a blossoming musician, whose name and credibility I have honoured so much that I named one of my sons after him for it to be a continuation of my reverence.

October 3, 1935: Italy Invades Ethiopia

Hail Mi Irieites,

ethiopiainvasion

October 3, 1935:  Ethiopia, one of the only two independent African nations at the time, is invaded on by facist Italy under Benito Mussolini. The Italians, seeking revenge for their prior humiliating loss to Ethiopia over 40 years earlier, commit countless atrocities on the independent African state. Poison gas, aerial bombardment, flame-throwers and concentration camps are all employed against the ill-equipped Ethiopian people.

Black outrage at these war crimes was universal and equanimous.

The League of Nations, forerunner to the UN, was criticized sharply for supplying weapons to Italy and not to Ethiopia. Such actions confirmed the suspicion that the war was had a racial motivation and sought to extinguish the last light of African power in the world. What became the “Black Peril” was the largest ever mobilization of Africans the world had ever seen over 500,000,000 strong. From Kingston to Johannesburg, from Detroit to Ghana, form Port-of-Spain to Paris, Black men and women offered to go fight in defense of Ethiopia.

And, as battles raged between Ethiopians and Italians in Africa, battles raged between Blacks and Italians in the streets of New York. In South Africa, Black workers began a lengthy march up the continent to assist their African brothers in Ethiopia. Elsewhere, ex-service men discarded their European and American citizenships to bring their military expertise to the defense of Ethiopia. The exiled Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I became a legendary figure to many. Not before or ever since was such a strong sense of Pan-Africanism seen throughout the world. And though Italy initially succeeded in occupying the African nation, Blacks everywhere would continue the struggle until Ethiopia was free.

Jah bless. I and I never forget.

Melkam Addis Amet

Hail Mi Irieites,

Happy New Year to all Ethiopians at home and abroad.  In these perilous times, it may be wise for us to think upon these words from His Imperial Majesty:

“The problems which confront us today are, equally, unprecedented. They have no counterparts in human experience. Men search the pages of history for solutions, for precedents, but there are none. This, then, is the ultimate challenge. Where are we to look for our survival, for the answers to the questions which have never before been posed? We must look, first, to Almighty God, Who has raised man above the animals and endowed him with intelligence and reason. We must put our faith in Him, that He will not desert us or permit us to destroy humanity which He created in His image. And we must look into ourselves, into the depth of our souls. We must become something we have never been and for which our education and experience and environment have ill-prepared us. We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.”

Bless! May the light of Jah guide you all into the positivity, continually… Melkam Addis Amet.

50 Year Later: The March on Washington

Hail Mi Irieites,

50march

50 Years ago, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. uttered these words on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial >> Join I tomorrow in DCNow is the Time!

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Emperor Menelik II: The Victory at Adwa

Emperor_Menelik_IISharing the same birthday as Marcus Garvey,
Emperor Menelik II (ምኒልክ) baptized as Sahle Maryam (17 August 1844 – 12 December 1913), was Negus of Shewa (1866–89), then Nəgusä Nägäst of Ethiopia from 1889 to his death.

The name Menelik was derived from the first Solomonic Emperor of Ethiopia, who is the son of King Solomon of  and Makeda, the Queen of Sheba.

Menelik’s fame is sealed in the Battle of Adwa, where the decisive victory his troops won over the imperialistic Italians established Ethiopia as a sovereign state, recognized by the West.

The story behind the Battle of Adwa goes something like this:

Menelik signed the Treaty of Wuchale with the Italians on May 2, 1889. Controversy soon emerged on the interpretation of article 17 of the treaty. While the Amharic text reads that Menelik could, if he wished, call upon the services of the Italian authorities in his communications with other powers, the Italian version made this obligatory, thereby making Ethiopia in effect a protectorate of Italy. Emperor Menelik denounced it and demanded that the Italian version be changed. Negotiations failed, so Menelik renounced the treaty, leading Italy to declare war and invade from Eritrea. After defeating the Italians at Amba Alagi and Mekele, Menelik inflicted an even greater defeat on them, at Adwa on 1 March 1896, forcing them to capitulate. Afterwards, Menelik returned to Addis Ababa leaving Eritrea as a protectorate of Italy. Menelik is believed to have said: “leave the Italians to rule Eritrea beyond Merab River”

A treaty was signed at Addis Ababa recognizing the absolute sovereign independence of Ethiopia.

adwa

Ethiopia was transformed under Nəgusä Nägäst Menelik: the major signposts of modernization were put in place. Menelik II was fascinated by modernity, and had an ambition to introduce Western technological and administrative advances into Ethiopia. A Russian Red Cross mission arrived in Addis Ababa some three months after Menilek’s Adwa victory, and then the first hospital was created in Ethiopia.

Following the rush by the major powers to establish diplomatic relations following the Ethiopian victory at Adwa, more and more westerners began to travel to Ethiopia looking for trade, farming, hunting and mineral exploration concessions. Menelik II founded the first modern bank in Ethiopia, the Bank of Abyssinia, introduced the first modern postal system, signed the agreement and initiated work that established the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway with the French, introduced electricity to Addis Ababa, as well as the telephone, telegraph, the motor car and modern plumbing. Externally, his victory over the Italian colonizers had earned him great fame: following Adwa, recognition of Ethiopia’s independence by external powers was expressed in terms of diplomatic representation at the court of Menelik and delineation of Ethiopia’s boundaries with the adjacent colonies.

Remembering Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Hail Mi Irieites,

Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born this day in 1887. Here’s a short clip from our upcoming documentary that’s relevant today:

Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement and economic empowerment focusing on Africa known as Garveyism. Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, including the Nation of Islam. In fact, some Rastas even view Garvey as a prophet. The intent of the movement was for those of African ancestry to “redeem” Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave it. His essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in the Negro World entitled “African Fundamentalism”, where he wrote: “Our union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… to let us hold together under all climes and in every country.”

Although Garvey promoted Pan Africanism and the Back to Africa movement, one point does need clarification.  It was Reverend James Morris Web, a clergyman from Chicago and an associate of Garvey who said “look to Africa where a Black king shall be crowned he shall be the redeemer.” This prediction of H.I.M. Haile Selassie’s ascent to the throne of Ethiopia is often wrongfully attributed to Marcus Garvey.

In 1965, during a trip to Jamaica, Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King laid a wreath at Garvey’s shrine. It was MLK who said that Garvey “was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody.”

Two other interesting historical points:

Malcolm X‘s parents, Earl and Louise Little, met at a UNIA convention in Montreal. Earl was the president of the UNIA division in Omaha, Nebraska and sold the Negro World newspaper, for which Louise covered UNIA activities.FlagGhana

Kwame Nkrumah named the national shipping line of Ghana the Black Star Line in honor of Garvey and the UNIA. Nkrumah also named the national soccer team the Black Stars as well. The black star at the center of Ghana’s flag is also inspired by the Black Star.

The UNIA red, black, and green flag has also been adopted as the universal Black Liberation Flag.

Garvey’s message of unity lives on:

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

“Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men.”

“There shall be no solution to this race problem until you, yourselves, strike the blow for liberty.”

“I know no national boundary where the Negro is concerned. The whole world is my province until Africa is free.”

“The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.”

“Intelligence rules the world, ignorance carries the burden.”

“If you haven’t confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.”

“The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.”

As Marcus Say: “Rally Round the Flag!” Check the opening song at 2:09 >>