Kingston, 20 April 2021 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has joined the celebration of Groundation Day on April 21.
It commemorates the 1966 visit to Jamaica of Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, when hundreds of Rastafari from all over Jamaica descended on Palisadoes Airport in Kingston to await the arrival of His Imperial Majesty.
“Although it happened 56 years ago, the memory and importance of the Emperor’s visit remains an anchor to the Rastafari community of their beliefs and their constant ties to Africa. The Emperor's visit gave Rastafari a new measure of respectability that was welcome, following the negative image that had led to the over-reaction of the State to the Coral Gardens Incident 3 years earlier. As a result of the new relationship between the Rastafari community and the wider public, Reggae music gained more interest and acceptance, leading to further global spread of the Rastafari movement.
Today, Jamaica is proud of the contribution of Rastafari to the national cultural image at home and abroad, and as relationships continue to improve, my Government continues to play its part in all this.
We have taken steps to repair the damage done by the Coral Gardens Incident. The Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, apologised in 2017 as the first part of the process of providing reparations for this injustice. Since then, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has established and contributed One Hundred and Two Million Dollars to the Rastafari Coral Gardens Trust Fund as reparations. Additionally, we have provided special housing support for survivors of the incident at an Elders Care Facility, working closely with the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society.
More is still to come.
As Jamaica celebrates 60 years of Independence, the nation will continue adding more historic moments and contributions from the unique Rastafari community.
Happy Groundation Day.”