VIDEO: SELASSIE RECOLLECTIONS

The visit to Jamaica by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1966 is still clearly remembered by many people over 50, and has been heard of by many others. The visiting exhibition on at the UWI Museum in April/May 2016, curated by Rootz Foundation, marks the 50th anniversary of the state visit to the Caribbean, with stops in Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and Haiti. The initial catalyst for the visit was an invitation tendered by Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Eric Williams.

Emperor Haile Selassie I robed to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the University of the West Indies on April 22, 1966

Emperor Haile Selassie I robed to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the University of the West Indies on April 22, 1966

In Jamaica, the visit generated a profound outpouring of interest and love from hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans who lined the streets to see this Black Emperor, and especially from the Rastafarian community who consider him to be the Messiah. On his arrival at the Palisadoes Airport in Kingston, the crowds broke through the barriers and surged around the aircraft.

Two persons who were there recorded brief interviews with Museum Curator Suzanne Francis-Brown, recalling aspects of their participation in the visit. Filmmaker Franklyn ‘Chappie’ St Juste, then a cameraman with the Jamaica Information Service, recalls the arrival, at the airport.

Broadcaster Jerry Small, then an 18-year old who had dropped out of school to become a Rastafarian, returned to his alma mater, Jamaica College, where the Emperor was visiting.

Do you have a recollection to add? Please share with us – and visit the exhibition which is up until May 19, alongside an edited version of our semi-permanent exhibition on UWI’s Origins.

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