Coral Gardens Incident recordings @ soundcloud
March 29, 2013 03:07PM
Friday, March 29, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of "Bad Friday" in Jamaica ... the Coral Gardens Incident.

The Coral Gardens Incident in short was a pogrom against Rastafarians. In the wake of a clash between a dread and police, which left several people dead, long-simmering resentments against Rastas uncorked in an orgy of violence against them not only around Coral Gardens, a community on the edge of Mo Bay, but in neighboring parishes. Rastas were beaten and arrested en masse.

In 1999 I attended a commemoration of the Coral Gardens Incident. Held in the old Sam Sharpe Square in Mo Bay, it featured speeches by survivors and eyewitnesses of the "Coral Gardens Insolence" and by other invited speakers, and it had nyahbinghi drumming by Prince Tebah & the Sons of Thunder in addition to other performances.

See for a pair of recordings that I made at the 1999 commemoration.

One is by Jah Lewis, who has what I believe to be the only song in Jamaican music which directly addresses the Incident. The song appeared on his album All Gone Astray for the Jwyanza label in Jamaica and then on Shanachie in the USA. The recording I have is short, an acapella chant of about two minutes with light nyah drums, and the voice we hear at the end is the late Ras Junior Manning of the Pitfour Nyahbinghi House, which organized the session.

The second recording is of a speech by the late Prof. Barry Chevannes, author of Rastafari: Roots & Ideology (Syracuse Univ Press, 1994), whose address ("Rastafari is the Memory of the Jamaican People"winking smiley is stirring and amazing. Prof. Chevannes was introduced by MC Manning as a "plainclothes Rasta," a term of obvious respect which earned some good-natured laughs among the audience. Barry Chevannes' scholarship is of profound importance, and he was also very community outreach-oriented in his conception of academia.

Respect to Jah Lewis and Barry Chevannes for keeping up the memory of the Coral Gardens atrocities against Rasta. Maximum respect is due to all the patriarchs & matriarchs of the Rastafarian community who kept the culture and spirit of Rasta alive in these years. And I would like to give a special shout-out to my friend and mentor Prince Elijah Williams, the composer of Book of Memory: A Rastafari Testimony. Living in the tiny Thatchtown community in Trelawny parish, Prince was arrested on Bad Friday and imprisoned for 30 days; meanwhile, his wife Ruth had her locks forcibly and painfully combed out by local bad-minded baldheads.

I'll add more recordings to this page in the weeks and months to come.
Re: Coral Gardens Incident recordings @ soundcloud
March 29, 2013 03:28PM
Michael, I LOVE the comment "Plain Clothes Rasta." Thank you SO MUCH for these amazing and historical recordings. AND for your Book of Memory and cd Communication Drums. Your work has never received the blye it deserves. However, I firmly believe these documentaries will become historical treasures.

From my website:

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