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Ubuntu Rastafari Cultural Center and Book Store Opens

A comprehensive and conscious movement to create harmonious relationships within the family structure and wider society is taking root following the recent launch of the Ubuntu Rastafari Cultural Center and Book Store.

The Right Honourable Priest Kailash Leonce, left, and Ras Dr. Wayne Rose, right, at the official launch.
The Right Honourable Priest Kailash Leonce, left, and Ras Dr. Wayne Rose, right, at the official launch.

Located on Jeremie Street, Castries, the Ubuntu Rastafari Cultural Center and Book Store was officially launched on Sunday, December 19, 2021, and will spearhead various uplifting initiatives, including justice and healing.

Ras Dr. Wayne Rose, Secretary General of the Ubuntu Rastafari Cultural Center and Book Store, says the Centre becomes necessary following decades of positive activism by members of the St. Lucian Ras Tafari communities in the fields of holistic healing and African identity, and against systemic victimization of Rastafarians by governmental agents. He believes the time is right for Rastafarians to have a seat at the tables of social and economic decision-making and to be treated equally and fairly.

“We’re saying that, post-colonialism, between the 1960s and 1980s, when Caribbean governments gained ‘independence’, they, in turn, turned on members of the Ras Tafari community who were seen as being very different and non-compliant to the new ethos that was being established,” Ras Dr. Rose said. “The justice and healing component of this mission is to identify these atrocities committed against Ras Tafari members of the Family and then to say to the family, ‘Work with us in addressing and facilitating a space and opportunity for us to reconcile as a family.’”

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Ras Dr. Wayne Rose.
Ras Dr. Wayne Rose.

Ras Dr. Rose cited the Mt. Gimie raid that took place in Saint Lucia in September 1977, whereby the Ras Tafari community was targeted. Part of the argument for that raid, he said, was that there were some bad apples and bad actors. Bad apples and actors notwithstanding, he said ignorance of the Rastafarian movement at the time also played a major part.

“Let us say within our Adventist community, for instance, which is part of our good framing of communities, or within our Catholic or Pentecostal communities, there are bad apples and bad actors,” he explained. “You don’t target an entire community because of the bad apples and actors, you go after just the bad apples or actors. Unfortunately, entire Ras Tafari communities have been targeted and ostracized based on individuals labelled as ‘bad actors’. This is not fair and has blemished the reputation of the entire Caribbean family.

Ras Dr. Rose, who is also an Adjunct Graduate Lecturer at Jackson State University in Mississippi, United States, noted that Rastafarians have retained the African identity that was beaten out of enslaved Africans through multiple mechanisms and systems. Through him, the Right Honourable Priest Kailash Leonce, the UBUNTU Cultural Center and other Ras Tafari advocates, the African knowledge and other belief systems are manifested into practice.

He stated that Rastafarians have always been concerned about healthy living, our environment, and positive representation of our African Ancestry. He also noted some other significant contributions made by Rastafarians, including their defense of the medicinal and therapeutic properties of marijuana, which is now a multi-billion-dollar industry; music and cultural retention; and a new African spirituality.

Ras Dr. Rose encourages individuals and civil society organizations to make use of the books and research services being provided at the Ubuntu Rastafari Cultural Center and Book Store. The Center, he said, is also open to forming relationships with other organisations that focus on positive and meaningful outcomes.

For many years now, Right Honourable Priest Kailash Leonce has been educating Saint Lucians on the need to embrace healthy eating habits and general living. As one of the leading forces in the Ubuntu Rastafari Cultural Centre and Book Store and founding member of the JAH JAH N I Secretariat, he gets to see his vision of broadening that consciousness fulfilled. Not surprisingly, there’s also a Food of 7 Ital Hotspot Restaurant on the ground floor that sells healthy authentic ital food and drinks.

About 90% of the books that will be on display in the book store will be for sale, with about 10% of them forming part of a “Special Collections Unit” for people who want to do in-store research. A small membership fee will be charged.

Attendees at the official launch browse through the book store.
Attendees at the official launch browse through the book store.

The Center is an investment into the future of young minds, Ras Dr. Rose said. Aside from having quality books, the Center will also host book readings and dramatizations, providing a safe and creative space for all, especially young people to participate in its calendar of activities that focus on Africa and the Caribbean. In fact, the Center will host a series of activities from January through March 2022, including study groups that will focus on Caribbean and spiritual literature.

“This can help orientate the youth towards the glory of literature and to find themselves in that glory,” said Ras Dr. Rose. “We want young people to see themselves as heroes and heroines of their own stories and not looking at the framing of whiteness alone. Europeans are part of our family, but we cannot just gravitate to their framing only; we have to see ‘Wakanda’ and ‘Black Panther’ and all of those other dimensions of ourselves in greatness.”

“Ubuntu” is a Nguni Bantu term meaning “humanity”, but is often translated as “I am because we are” or “I am because you are”. It is on that basic principle that Ras Dr. Rose believes people from different social classes and religious affiliations should attempt to bridge the divide for doing good for all.

“We’re here as a resource,” he said. “We’re not trying to upset your cart. Whatever socio-religious framing you already have, keep it. But ensure that it is pegged to goodness. That’s what The Ubuntu Movement is about. We WILL assist in shaping and framing the good and the new. We’re not saying that everyone has to be Ras Tafari. What we’re saying is that it is time for ALL good people to know and play their role in this time and this space.” UBUNTU!!!

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