Sun | Nov 17, 2019

‘Garvey disappointed’ - Hero’s son rails against neglect in teaching black-consciousness history

Published:Tuesday | October 22, 2019 | 12:22 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Dr Julius Garvey walks away after being conferred with the Order of Jamaica for universal civil activism and the promotion of entrepreneurship and the legacy of Garveyism and pan-Africanism.
Dr Julius Garvey walks away after being conferred with the Order of Jamaica for universal civil activism and the promotion of entrepreneurship and the legacy of Garveyism and pan-Africanism.

Jamaica’s political class has been accused by one of the country’s most high-profile honours inductees of betraying the legacy of Marcus Garvey and other national heroes and failing to prioritise the teaching of Afrocentric history.

Dr Julius Garvey, who was inducted into the Order of Jamaica at yesterday’s National Honours and Awards Ceremony at King’s House, said his father would be gutted by the slow pace of black-conscious social engineering that is a crucial cog of political independence.

Marcus Garvey, who was born in the northern parish of St Ann, was a pan-Africanist icon who promoted African pride, self-love and excellence long before those concepts were popular in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and Black Power of the 1960s. He died in 1940.

The honouree, who received Jamaica’s fourth-highest honour, believes that if his father were alive today, he would be devastated by the lack of intellectual and social progress.

“He certainly would not be happy with how the country has fared up to this point. Even though we have done well in certain aspects, I am saddened by the fact that too many of our people are still mentally enslaved,” said Dr Garvey, who was honoured for his distinguished contribution to universal civil activism and the promotion of entrepreneurship and the legacy of Garveyism and pan-Africanism.

“Socially and economically, I am sure my father would be bitterly disappointed. Worse, we have not created a society that is sustainable. But that can be fixed. I urge all our leaders to fix these problems.”

RESISTANCE TO TEACHING BLACK HISTORY

The surgeon also lamented that “we are yet to get to the end stage where we have a just and moral society”.

But the nub of Dr Garvey’s anger is centred around the resistance to Afrocentric education and the teaching of black history that transcends 400 years of slavery and colonialism. He charged that lessons taught by his father have been neglected, which has resulted in the painful experience of the people of Jamaica, and that the Government must make teaching the real history of the origin of the Jamaican people a central pillar in any social re-engineering effort it is willing to undertake.

“We are not teaching our real history as a country. We are not teaching the philosophy of Marcus Garvey, nor are we teaching the lessons from our several national heroes as a matter of course in schools as compulsory subjects.

“We need to teach our history, not British history, but our very own, in terms of where we came from, how we got here, how we fought to become free as a people, because everything is really a milestone. Sam Sharpe was happy to go the gallows in 1832, and then slavery was ended in 1834, a direct result of his sacrifice and death and [that of] 500 others.

Dr Garvey was among 215 people who received a plethora of awards at the annual ceremony. Gerald Lalor, who was absent, was the only recipient of the Order of Merit, the third-highest national honour. His son Mark collected on his behalf.

Other inductees into the Order of Jamaica were entertainer and philanthropist Rita Marley, widow of reggae superstar Bob Marley; business giant Robert Levy; and veteran politicians Mike Henry and Robert Pickersgill.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com