“Ras Tafari came to drum beats.
God-like on a golden lion
rode shafts of sunlight
and burnt away the rain…”
(Raymond Mair, 1966, published in ‘these days i celebrate’)
Our visiting exhibition commemorating the visit to Jamaica and other Caribbean islands by Ethopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1966, 50 years ago, has drawn wide-ranging interest.
Poet Raymond Mair recited from a poem he penned in response to Selassie’s arrival, and agreed to let us record him reading it. He and his wife Patsy were at the airport, dropping off a friend, and saw the crowds in their whites and colours. They saw the sun break through the overcast sky and a bolt of lightening in the clearing through which the plane came bearing the emperor and causing the crowd to gasp, shout and surge forward.
The Selassie exhibition, curated by Rootz Foundation, is up until May 19. On May 18 at 3pm, the museum hosts a panel discussion: The Visit of H.I.M. Haile Selassie to the Caribbean. Contextual Considerations. Panellists Dr Jahlani Niaah, Dr Clinton Hutton, Priest Douglas Smith and Dr Michael Barnett will look at how the state visit came about, its significance and its impact. The discussion falls within an occasional series: ‘UWI & The 1960s‘, initiated in 2015 by the UWI Museum and the Social History Project (SHP) of the UWI Mona’s Department of History & Archaeology. The series considers events, movements and icons of the important decade of the 1960s, in or with many of which the University of the West Indies has been in some way connected.