Rastafari elder, Ras Flako has said that the elders of the Rastafari movement have been abandoned by their own families, and the Jamaican government to die in poverty.
“[Back in the day] Once they say ‘you turn Rasta’, your parents reject you, your friends reject you, and you are ‘condemned’,” said Ras Flako, speaking to what he describes as one of the reasons some Rastafari elders in present Jamaica find themselves suffering and sometimes dying in poverty.
“So even if you [should] get a little inheritance cause your father or your mother dead, it get tek weh cause you is Rasta!” Ras Flako added.
According to the elder, the lifestyle of the older Rastafari in addition to financial challenges has greatly contributed to the decline in health [and death] of some of the movement’s oldest members.
Ras Flako suggests that the government puts in place for Rastafari elders, who have been dealt a bad hand, a ‘care centre’ where they might receive adequate care and assistance.
“Provide a care centre for Rastafari, like a big clinic. You can go deh whenever you want or doctors are on call. Nuh tell me you have a little care house for Rasta to go, where you put some little sheet pan some bed. Me no wah hear that,” said an emphatic Ras Flako.
The elders stressed that some of these care houses required two men to share a bed as the spaces only have two rooms. They have made it clear that they find the gesture demeaning.
Also demeaning is the treatment of Rastafari elders who are taken into public hospitals only for their faith not to be respected.
“Let’s say you get sick, and your family rush you to hospital. Your locks [will be cut off]. Soon everything will be gone. You will have to start eating meat; you will eat pork fat, chicken back soup. So where is a building for Rastafari?”
The discussion, hosted on INeverKnewTV sparked controversial debates in the comments.
One user reasoned: “Life choices. 20 plus years from now there will be the same talk. Humble doesn’t mean poor. Yes, request what the government has promised, but in the meantime come together and make a way. Some of these religious ideas be folly. ”
“When you say ‘Fire burn babylon system’ the system will turn [its] back on you,” another offered.
Some users, however, were in full support of the Rastafari elders, even at the expense of popular figures who represent the movement.
“Where is all these big Reggae artists who preach Rasta. Where they at?” they said.
Rastafari and ‘the system’ being at odds is nothing new. In 1963, members of the movement were targeted, brutalised and killed by a ruthless police assault on their Coral Gardens community. It was not until 2017 that the Rastafari community was acknowledged by the current administration by way of an apology issued by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
The Prime Minister, in 2o19, proposed compensation to the survivors of the Coral Gardens incident in the form of reparation. To that end, Holness made a commitment of J$10 million to establish a “trust fund” to benefit families of the victims, according to a report by caribbeanlifenews.com.