Rastafari Children must be accepted in all schools

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Fifty years ago the Revelation of Rastafari on Antigua caused much consternation as groups of young men withdrew from their communities, taking refuge in the many hills to grow their locks, cleansing themselves from four hundred years of foreign domination (Babylon), Rastafari looked toward their God within, following the teachings of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1 of Ethiopia.

Soon young women followed them, including young girls from Antigua High School which shocked the society to such an extent, forcing them to acknowledge the Revelation with police violence. As Rasta families grew children old enough to be schooled, the then Minister of Education refused to consider allowing Rastafari children in schools, referring to them as ‘unkempt.’ With the help of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica Rastafari were forced to start their own little school.

Over the years, slowly, as the Rastafari community became ‘acceptable’ to the society when their talents were recognized, some public schools allowed the youth with their locks, but insisted they must wear a tam. Later the demand allowed their locks to be ‘tidy.’

So for today to hear that a private church school could be so downright cruel to reject a child on her first day of school, on the grounds of wearing locks, we realize that not much has changed in fifty years. Rastafari are only recognized when they are required to be used either by the politicians at election time, or the new cannabis growers who want them to grow their ‘weed’. This is infra dig!

Schools and teachers are not what they were when teaching was regarded as a vocation and not just a job, and when Christian churches recognized that their Christ came for all, especially the poor and despised. The child and her happiness were not considered on her first day of school, with her locks, prettied up like the other children with their plaits and ribbons, she was disappointed by her teacher, and told not to come back to school with her locks. Is this the vocational teacher talking or the segregationist Adventist church?

By Makeda Mikael

The time has come for the Constitution to begin to protect All the people and not just some. It is time also for the churches in our midst to understand and apply what they preach, and when they fail to apply this century’s Christian churches approach to unbiased religiosity, the Constitution must show them their failure to bend the moral arc towards Justice.