My involvement with the Rastafari Youth Initiative Council really shifted into full gear following my return to Jamaica after a much-needed trip home (Shout out to my whole fam.) Yes, this means more work, but I've begun to look at more (enjoyable) work as my spirit's food... So, I'll be working with the RYIC, which has been in existence for about 2 years and has over 100 members in and around Kingston, to plan one of their biggest annual events, a celebration for Empress Menen's Earth(birth)day in March. Myself and the entire youth council are very much looking forward to this event.
In a collaborative effort to improve low-income and crime-ridden communities throughout Jamaica, members of the RYIC and Donisha Prendergrast, grand-daughter of Bob Marley and creator of an upcoming documentary on Rastafari's international presence, made the trod to Tredegar Park All-Age School in St. Catherine this week to reason with the students on the recent violence that's taken place in their community. The visit was meant to be extra special for the school, as Julian Marley and several other up-and-coming reggae artists would be accompanying us. Oh, and it was special indeed- most of the students asked each of us what our relation to Bob Marley was- Whoo!! This got a little out of control. Hahaha.
Anyway, Donisha acted as the MC for the afternoon inviting different students up to the stage to share their thoughts and personal experiences related to the gun violence in their community. All I can say is that this was extremely heart-wrenching. Every student (ages 5-12) who took the mic had at least 2 members of their immediate family taken by gun violence. Even worse was that some of these young people could recount in great detail their loved ones' death. A little girl pointed to a tree on the school grounds and told us that it was there that her father was shot three times, once in the head, chest, and leg. Heavy stuff. Heavy stuff. On a brighter note, the visit did allow the students to express the many feelings manifesting in their young, yet seasoned hearts and minds. What they loved even more was being able to ask Julian Marley questions, the most popular question being 'Who ah yuh fadda?'
|Tredegar Park school students looking on as we introduce ourselves.|
|Reasoning with the students.|
|Young schooler as he asks Julian Marley a question.|
|More questions- of the same sort.|
|Julian Marley poses for a photo with the students (as some marvel at his locs.)|