Emulate Rastafari values, Chang urges families

MONTEGO BAY, St James – As the nation grapples with the gruesome murder of accounting clerk Khanice Jackson, Minister of Security Dr Horace Chang argues that the heinous acts of violence meted out to women would be eliminated if the wider society replicates the respect that “true” Rastafarian men show to females.

Jackson, who went missing last Wednesday, was found dead at the Portmore Fishing Village in St Catherine two days later. A man has reportedly confessed to Jackson’s killing.

“If you respect your women, if you see her as an empress, as a queen – you can’t destroy her, you can’t beat her, and murder her, and cut her, and things like that. We have to consider these things,” Dr Chang pointed out.

“In the Rastafarian community you speak of your sisters, queens and empress for women. These are languages that reaffirms respect for women. And if we can replicate this to the broader community we would get rid of [this] kind of negativitism and the violence that is destroying our society.”

He was speaking on Holy Thursday during the official opening of the Rastafari Elders’ Care Home here.

The official opening was hosted by the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society (RCGBS).

Dr Chang, who is also deputy prime minister, as well as Member of Parliament for St James North West, argued that if more Jamaican families emulate the values of the Rastafarian community, then there would be less murders.

“I think there is greater need to examine how the true believers… how they manage their family and conduct their family. The violence that has overtaken our country is a deep reflection of a certain lack of self-respect and self-value and worth of our people and each other. If you respected each other truly, and valued each other, we would not murder each other,” Dr Chang said.

“I think the true believers of Rastafari, people like yourselves, who are here, can provide the kind of framework and guide to understand we can live together as a family, respect each other, work with each other, restore the identity and respect that slavery denied our people and begin to provide equal opportunity for all and ensure justice for all.”

Culture Minister Olivia Grange, who joined the opening ceremony virtually, revealed that the survivors will “be cared for and assisted for the rest of their lives with help and loving care, as much as possible, in the company of others who share mutual lifestyle and Rastafari faith”.

At the moment two of the survivors are housed at the facility which is manned by paid caretakers under the supervision of a medical doctor.

“As minister, I take this matter affecting you all very seriously. Therefore, 58 years after the Coral Gardens incident, the establishment of the Rastafari Elder Care Home has become a reality. One of the steps taken by the Andrew Holness Government of Jamaica, through your Member of Parliament, with me as your minister, Sister Barbara Blake Hanna and the rest of our team, is to pay reparation to the victims who survived the aftermath of that notorious blot of Jamaica’s history,” Grange said.

“The setting up of the elders home to accommodate survivors was necessary, and we ensured that the funding was provided and that these funds were to be provided annually to deliver medical care, to deliver food, to deliver supervision of the elders home. And the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society will see to the management of the funds, the operation of the home and the care of the elderly. The work of the benevolent society is commendable.”

Wesley Brown, also called Brother Peeky, one of the surviving victims of the Coral Gardens atrocity, who now occupies the facility, expressed thanks to the Government.

“I really have to give thanks and praise for the wonderful work that the Government has been doing. This facility is a decent place and we as Rastafarian brethrens have to really give thanks and praise. We really appreciate of what the Government has done for us,” Brown stated.

In April 2017, Prime Minister Andrew Holness apologised for the role of the State in the Coral Gardens incident.

Sister Nanny of the RCGBS revealed that the elder care facility started operation on March 2, 2021.

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