Frustrated Rastas aim to be agents of change
Members of the Haile Selassie Ethiopian Royal Judah Coptic Church pose for a photo during a Loop News interview this week. (PHOTOS: Kimmo Matthews)
It is often said that for change to be effected in any group or society, drastic measures have to be taken.
Seemingly along that vein, deep in the heart of the sometimes volatile Bournemouth Gardens community in St Andrew, there is a group of Rastafarians actually planning an uprising.
Complaining that they are frustrated by breakdowns in Jamaican society, the high murder rate and the levels of unemployment, especially among the youth, the men who are members of the Haile Selassie Ethiopian Royal Judah Coptic Church, say they have embarked on a number of projects to bring about ‘radical changes’.
“We have seen many (persons) stepping forward saying that they have the answer to what is happening in this country, but they have failed. We have seen many church groups, we have even seen the police and politician scampering to find solutions, but they have all failed,” declared group member Zakieus Thompson in an interview with Loop News.
The elder added, “We are of the view that is only Rasta can come forward to solve what is happening, and as a result of what is happening, we have come to the decision that we cannot sit by and allow this to continue; enough is enough!”
The group said as a result of their concerns, they have embarked on a project to establish a skills training centre in their community, and thereafter, the plan is to extend the idea to other communities and parishes.
“The skills training centre will be close to Bournemouth Bath Foundation, and the aim is to reach out to all those idle youths and teach them a skill; teach them how to earn. That is our aim,” Thompson said.
Despite youth unemployment being at near 10-year lows, the Rastafarian elders believe that more needs to be done in this area for Jamaica to effectively tackle the crime monster and put the island in a better position to grow economically.
“We hear successive governments talking about plans to solve crime, but crime will never stop until you find work for the idle hands, to give youth the opportunity to earn honestly, and by that means, take themselves out of poverty,” said one group member.
“We believe that if more youth are taught skills, this will give them the opportunity to not only earn, but create their own jobs, and to create a cycle of each one helping another one,” added the elder whose woolly white beard resembled that of a lion who had been in many fights, but whose spirit was only downed, by not broken.
In addition to teaching skills, he said the group of Rastas intend to also embark on another initiative to bring back morals.
“Too many youths have lost their way. They don’t know their identity. There needs to be more teachings of Marcus Garvey in schools, to ensure that black men and women know about themselves and their history,” added the elder, noting that it was sad to see so many youth bleaching out their skins, all because they have lost their identity.
The group members said evidence of their work will be seen in the coming months, as they look to kick-start the initiatives in Bournemouth Gardens.