DREAD, RASTAFARI AND ETHIOPIA The definitive report on the history of the Rastafari Movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica
©2010 Ras Albert Williams
Edited by Empress Tempie Williams
All rights Reserved
DREAD, RASTAFARI AND ETHIOPIA
The definitive historical report of the beginning and the rise of the Rastafari movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica
Ras Albert Williams
Dedicated to my wife Empress Tempie
Ras Albert Williams
The Commonwealth of Dominica, is perhaps one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with so much spectacular scenery per square mile, that it would take many lifetimes savour it all. A mere 290 square mile, island created by the violent eruptions of volcanic activity 26 million years ago.
And like the island , Dread, Rastafari and Ethiopia: The definitive historical report of the beginning and the rise of the RastafarI movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica, is destined to shake the very foundations of Babylon, setting the nuggets of truth to come crashing down, laying bare the atrocities and brutality that that birth-panged a very important cultural heritage of the island, the Caribbean and the world.
There comes a time when the truth must be told, and if not, the undercurrents that shaped the soul-searching of a generation of the last 30 years of the 20th century, might be lost to posterity for ever.
I refer here to the birth of Dreadism and Rastafari synonymously in Dominica, and the cultural and social impact, the movement had and continues to have on a former slave colony in the middle of the West Indies.
It’s all in this book, the truth and still some…are you prepared to take it…This is the bigger question
WHY THIS STUDY NOW?
Why not! is my rebuttal. Further, my question to the sceptic is why is it that the victories and misfortunes of this tiny Caribbean island state has not come under the radar of academics, film makers, documentary makers and other enthusiast to share with the world the object lessons that may be gleaned from the ongoing saga, which is the history of Dominica. For example, Why is it that the subject of this book: a report of the rise of the RastafarI movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica, warrants only brief mentions in the offerings of researchers of Rastafari of ‘the serious political crisis’ in such publications as Chanting down Babylon: the Rastafari reader ( Publisher: Temple University Press Pub. Date: March 1998 ISBN-13: 9781566395847) By Nathaniel Samuel Murrell, William David Spencer, Adrian Anthony McFarlane, pages 186 to 189 or French websites: http://www.reggae-est.fr/?contid=74, , Rastalogie, or even commendable attempts in academic articles from author/lawyer, Gabriel Christian in A Rain of Stones The May 29, 1979 Revolt and Aftermath-http://da-academy.org/revolt_1979.html and In Crucial Times:(Radical Politics in Dominica 1970-1980). Also Despite, his father, Ted Honychurch, being caught up in the bloody events of 1981, historian, Dr. Lennox Honychurch objectively reports on those unfortunate years in his , The Dominica Story A History of the Island, ISBN 0-333-62776-8, published by Macmillan Education Ltd in 1995., pages 245-252 and, 2276 and 282
The same could be said of the importance of learning from the lessons of how Dominica coped with the devastation of hurricane David in 1979. As a reporter for the Dominica Chronicle in 2003, I interviewed former interim Prime Minster of Dominica, Oliver Seraphine who was responsible for guiding the nation to a democratic election following the downfall of the Patrick John administration in may of 1979. The winds of almost 200 miles-per-hour smashed into the country, leaving a wake of destitution , destruction , death and homelessness. He told me, that it was the first time that a reporter had spoken to him since that time.
Why is it that , Dominica’s music, Cadance Lypso, pioneered by Gordon Henderson seems to be unable to attract the same amount of media frenzy that our sister island, Jamaican’s reggae. Where are the coffee table books, The plethora of publications all professing to be experts on the subject. The low budget films, the theatre productions.
We see The University of the West Indies offering minors and other electives on Reggae and Rastafari studies. Yet Dominica with all her legendary beauty, catastrophic events and imaginative individuals, such as playwright, Alwin Bully, and to some extent, Dominica’s most famous author, Jean Rhys are still only spoken about in bated breaths.
Thirteen years ago Dominica launched its world Creole Music Festival , held every year at the height of Dominica cultural calendar, during the month of October leading to November 3rd, independence and national day . Where are the archivists and publisher beating a track to the band houses of the pioneers like Gordon Henderson, Chubby , Ophelia and Jeff Joseph. And other cultural elders.
Again, the Dominica Book Fair and Literary Festival now in its second year , held in collaboration with the local UWI Open campus, and which has to date featured many Caribbean literary greats such as Derek Walcott. The festival is destined to become one of the Caribbean’s biggest gathering of literary minds. But will we see a corresponding interest by the world’s media. Or is it because Dominica, as a small Caribbean island is not as important as its bigger brothers.
We shall see!
In presenting the material for this book, I hope that I will be able to raise the awareness that is lurking behind the resplendent beauty of the island is an inherent intelligence whose importance is to the world is just as pertinent as any happenings on the world stage today.
The fact that the subject matter of this book happened nearly thirty years ago is irrelevant, as historians dig even deeper, only to regurgitate the findings of researchers before them, albeit with a retake of the facts. The same can be said for Rastafari. From its inception as a possible modus operandi for a cultural change and unique world view and , Caribbean-based , mind-set in the 1930’s, through to the seventies with the propagation of the activities of the likes of , reggae superstar , Bob Marley, and the resultant spread and acceptance of he Rastafarian creed world wide . We see what was first a religious concept, now being secularised and even packaged as a tourism product.
Be that as it may, may, my aim it to present the facts with the assistance reliable sources, to a world largely ignorant of the subject.
MARKETING CONSIDERATIONS AND STRATEGY
DREAD, RASTAFARI AND ETHIOPIA: The definitive historical report of the beginning and the rise of the RastafarI movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica. Will appeal to millions of individuals and institutions around the world for different reasons. Firstly, it will strike a responsive chord with over 250,000 Dominicans on the island and in the Diaspora, many who were not even born, or who were young children when the events in this book were took place. They are fascinated with the Rastafari Movement and need to get the facts from an authoritative voice this author.
The second group of readers who will be fascinated with my book are fellow Rastafarians in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean, the United States of America, United kingdom Europe who are only marginally informed on such topics as the Dread Act , Desmond Trotter and Eric Joseph from ancient sources mainly newspaper articles from the 70’s.
I also predict that my book will be popular with students and academics, of the University of the West Indies and other scholarly institutions around the world who write and research on Rastafarian topics. As I will point out in my comparison with other books on the topic, There are no publications dedicated in their entirety to the study of the Rastafarians in Dominica and the Dread Act in particular. While there are many books written on Rastafari of a general nature, and with an emphasis on the Jamaican experience, none to date have considered analysing the Dominican experience.
Other sectors who will want to own this book will be, public libraries, and libraries of universities. Such as the Smithsonian Natural Museum of Natural History Also anyone who is remotely connected to Dominica. Anyone who has family or friends their, or is planning to go their on a holiday or set up business there. Or just want to collect books written on the history of Dominica.
HOW DOES MY BOOK COMPARE WITH OTHER BOOKS ON THE SUBJECT
Few substantive study and/or field research on Dreadism or Rastafari in Dominica has been carried out. While there are literally hundreds of books written on various aspects of Rastafari and Reggae, but none that I have researched deal specifically with the Dread Act or with the Dread uprising and the rise of the Rastafari movement in Dominica. The same can be said for Desmond, Kabinda Trotter or the recently released Eric Joseph. Here presents an opportunity to capture this market share; the eye-witness accounts and personal reflections from those concerned before any one else does, and in a very memorable way as I have suggested by way of a attractive coffee table book.
Book s that I have come across that mention the Dread Act are ‘CHANTING DOWN BABYLON ISBN: 1-56639-584-4 by Nathaniel an Samuel Murrell, William David Spencer, Adrian Anthony McFarlane. Dread Talk (ISBN 976-8125-68-3) by Velma Pollard Other mentions come in the form of an academic paper: In Times Crucial: Radical Politics in Dominica,1970 -1980, published on the internet by Author and lawyer Gabriel Christian. Letters to the editor on online magazines and a dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, (ISBN 976-640-145-4) by Richard Allsopp
Other brief mentions would be in Dr. Lennox Honychurch’s The Dominica Story: A
History of the Island (ISBN 0-333-62776-8) published 1995; Centring the Periphery: Chaos, Order and the Ethno history of Dominica ISBN: 0773511342 Published March 1994by Patrick L.Baker and Millennialism, Persecution, and Violence: Historical Cases ISBN: 0815628099 Published January 2004 by Catherine Lowman Wessinger; The Rastafarians 1997 ISBN 0-8070-1039-1 by Leonard E Barrett Sr; Commonwealth Caribbean Constitutional Law , ISBN-13: 9781859416914 by Sir Fred Phillips among others.
What will distinguish my work from all others, is that while researchers use a system of referencing which is to quote or rewrite the work of another author in their manuscript , or to refer to the works of an author by way of passing remarks, I will be interviewing the actual persons involved or related to the subject matter. Thus, my work will be current and free from plagiarism in the slightest form.
Additionally, because the subject has not been dealt with in any substantive manner previously, it will stand out as ‘the book’ by which all subsequent publications will be judged.
HOW I RESEARCHED THIS BOOK
In an effort to make this book authentic, rather than a piecemeal attempt to draw on scanty resources here and there, I have:
Researched published material on the subject of the history of Dominica, Dreads of Dominica etc which is be referenced on each chapter.
Arranged consultations with Rastafarian elders via telephone in Dominica.
Acquired from the police authorities photos, newsletter, and other archives
Obtained copies of hansards from the Ministry of Legal Affairs re the Dread Act, Controlled Substances Act and Terrorism Act.
Pursued, Dominican, Caribbean and international news papers for any mention of subject matter or characters named in my book relating to this period.
Spoke with , former Prime Minster, Patrick John, Rastafarians Desmond Trotter and Eric Joseph and other persons related to this period.
Photographed the people, persons and articles related to the subject matter of my book.
DREAD, RASTAFARI AND ETHIOPIA The definitive historical report of the beginning and the rise of the RastafarI movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica
As the title of this book suggests, it documents the development of the RastafarI movement in Dominica from its dramatic inception in the 1970’s to the present day. It’s author, poet, and author Ras Albert Williams , as a child was swept up in the waves of black power sentiments and inward introspection of the times that was to prepare the backdrop of the formation of RastafarI today.
The methods used to prepare this book included extensive research in past issues of Dominica’s oldest newspaper, The Chronicle; I perused publications by fellow Dominican authors that have broached the subject, albeit in less words than it deserves. I interviewed notable characters whose living memory of the dramatic events of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s speak volumes, more than any research from books could disclose.
DREAD, RASTAFARI AND ETHIOPIA The definitive historical report of the beginning and the rise of the RastafarI movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica is part autobiographical and part fictional and definitely documentary. The author has chosen a writing style that is both informative and entertaining and seeks to throw new light on such epic chapters in Dominica’s history as the passage of the notorious Prohibited and Unlawful Societies and Associations Act 1974(The Dread Act)
by the Patrick John administration in 1974. The act was intended to disgrace, and eliminate the Dreads, but what it did, was to give them a legitimacy that distinguished the brothers from their Rastafarian counterparts in Jamaica. Still, it is ironic that eloquent as he was ,on the jargon used by the ‘Dreads’ , and by the very definition the then Premier John summarised the meaning of ‘Dread‘, as terrorist , that less than seven years later he would found guilty of treason and branded a terrorist himself.
The book also revisit’s the historic trial of black activist, and thinker, Desmond Trotter and his subsequent death sentence for the killing of an American, John Jirasek which was deemed by activist worldwide as a conspiracy to silence the leading organiser of the dreads and compares this to the killing of the father of, Lenox Honychurch Dominica’s historian and author, during a altercations between the brethren and the police in the hills above Roseau, and we speak with Eric Joseph, who was released from prison after 27 years for the murder. Again, no one until now, has been brave enough to ‘sit in the dust with the brethren’ and ‘reason’ with the brethren to go beyond the stereo-type and systemic propaganda published by the John administration’s radio station, and sympathetic weeklies.
DREAD, RASTAFARI AND ETHIOPIA The definitive historical report of the beginning and the rise of the RastafarI movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica is a candid and sincere account from the mouths and hearts of those whose side of the story has not until now been told. It is an in-depth-exposition that is destined to leave an indelible mark in Dominica’s publishing history. The informative text comes replete with archival photographs and illustrations; profiles of distinguished Rastafarians, both living and dead who stories deserve to be recorded within the scope of this book; a glossary of words peculiar to the dread era and an index for easy search and find of topical subjects. DREAD, RASTAFARI AND ETHIOPIA The definitive historical report of the beginning and the rise of the RastafarI movement in the Commonwealth of Dominica, will serve as a platform for future academics and researchers to further argue who are the Dreads, and who are the Rastafarians in Dominica.
Let us get one thing straight, as the years turn into decades, and the decades into centuries, Rastafari as a whole will , like the rest of the world, and all it process, will continue to evolve. That is certain. And we the Rastafarians who have been the keepers of knowledge, and who have followed the God-head from the beginning of creation to this time will be here to set the record straight .
Finally, I am confident that you too will share the excitement I had in presenting the following book proposal, and share in acknowledging the importance of exploring the topics and themes of my intended publication. What this book is not, is a comparative study of religion, with all the terminology and jargon that comes with academia, however, this book is a pure and authentic voice of a people once dispossessed, and demoralised as slave descendents, now creating for them selves an identity.
Ras Albert Williams