Jamaica’s journey – ‘Maroon To Rasta’

Reggae singer, Bob Marley, performs in this 1980 handout photo.
AP Photo/Island Records

From its inception, the Caribbean Cultural Theatre pledged to deliver quality presentations and a diverse menu of cultural treats to devour, contemplate and digest. Through each season, the group attempts to honor that pledge by presenting theatrical, literary and artistic weekend offerings.

Later this month, on the weekend of Oct. 25 & 25, a four-film feast will spotlight the island of Jamaica with documentaries billed “On A Mission – from Maroon To Rasta.”

According to the presenters the free, film fest “brings together four narrative documentary films, their creators and commentators in an exploration of the journey of the Jamaican nation from the military exploits of the Maroons to wrest their freedom from the British in the eighteenth century, through to Marcus Garvey’s international struggle for social justice at the beginning of the 20th century; to the emergence contemporary spiritual and cultural phenomena of Rastafari.”

Slated to be held on the campus of Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Ave. (corner of Crown St.), the palatable profile merges aspects of the island’s prominence that have distinguished the ‘land of wood and water’ known previously as a West Indian sugar cane colony to perhaps, one of the Caribbean’s leading destination for cultural, heritage study.

Featuring must-see film attractions, discussions and a musical tribute, an evening and full day presentation will open with a focus on Robert Nesta Marley AKA The King of Reggae. In a documentary directed by Esther Anderson – who lived with and loved the legend, “Bob Marley: The making Of A Legend” offers an inside peek into the life of the world’s most known Rastafarian musician. After the screening, Christopher John Farley, who penned a book about the legend will discuss the film.

The following afternoon, a treasure-trove opens with the island’s first national hero – Marcus Mosiah Garvey. In a film directed by Mike Wallington, the Pan-African and Black power advocate is celebrated in “Marcus Garvey: A Giant of Black Politics.” After the screening, his son Dr. Julius Garvey will opine on the project.

The spotlight focuses on Jamaica’s most prominent resistance group, The Maroons. Much has been said about Ghana’s Ashanti people. Some claim, the roots of many Jamaicans to have sprouted from that African nation to claim the Maroons. The film “Akwantu: The Journey” details their struggle during slavery and British occupation on the island of Jamaica. Directed by Roy T. Anderson, this document broaches topics rarely discussed.

The treat ends with a document that recalls a horrific incident which was sanctioned by a prime minister soon after the Aug. 6, 1962 declaration of independence from England.

“Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens” informs on the April 12, 1963, brutal murders of 54 Rastafarians living in Western Jamaica. Known as the ‘Bad Friday’ atrocity, half a century later a full accounting of the incident is still being demanded by members of the Rastafarian community. Allegedly the government at the time ordered the police force to “bring in all Rastafari dead or alive; if the jail can’t hold them we will dig trenches in Bogue cemetery and bury them.”

Directed by John L. Jackson and Deborah A. Thomas and Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn the film responds to a plea often articulated that “The Government of Jamaica needs to comply with resolution #32 & 33 of the Durban Declaration to “recognize the value and diversity of the cultural heritage of African and people of African descent and affirm the importance and necessity of ensuring their full integration into social, economical and political life with a view of facilitating their full participation at all levels in the decision making process…”

A musical interlude will follow the engaging film feature.

Here is the schedule:

FRI., OCT. 25

7:00 p.m. — Bob Marley: The Making of a Legend

Directed by Esther Anderson; Gian Godoy

Based on footage shot in the early 1970s seventies that was missing for more than thirty years, Esther Anderson journeys to her youth to see and hear a young Bob Marley before he was famous. Post screening discussion with journalist and Marley biographer, Christopher John Farley.

SAT., OCT. 26

2:00 p.m. — Marcus Garvey: A Giant of Black Politics.

Directed by Mike Wallington

One of the most controversial figures in the twentieth century, the film traces the complex and multifaceted life that catapulted Garvey from organizing West Indian contract labor to the phenomenal status of the preeminent Black Nationalist pioneer. Post screening discussion with Marcus Garvey’s son, Dr. Julius Garvey

4:30 p.m. — Akwantu: The Journey

Directed by Roy T. Anderson

The struggle for freedom of the Maroons inspires both immense admiration and derision. This personal investigation into heritage and military exploits against the most powerful army in the world in the 18th century to flee plantations and slave ships to gain political autonomy.

7:00 p.m. — Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens

Directed by John L. Jackson, Deborah A. Thomas; Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn

Within a year after gaining independence from Britain, the Jamaican government launched a military-style incursion on the Rasta community. The documentary chronicles the history of violence in Jamaica and shows how people use their recollections of past traumas to imagine new possibilities for a collective future.

Musical tribute from Ancient Vibrations Drummers

For more info. Log onto www.caribbeancultheatre.org


A kind of Marley reality series has been picked up by the Africa Channel and premiered Oct. 7 as the “Marley Africa Road trip.”

Twelve 30-minute episodes are slated to air over the next 12 weeks at 9 p.m. beginning Oct. 11.

Check local listings for details.

Catch You On The Inside!

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