Jamaicans Urged to Cleave to the Teachings of Marcus Garvey
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The teachings and philosophy of National Hero, Marcus Garvey, and a special emphasis on education, could go a long way in helping to reduce crime and addressing some of Jamaica's other social ills.
"We are at a point in our development that you know everybody is a little afraid. The high level of crime is very daunting and I think people are suffering and there needs to be some hope. I really think in this time, we need to cleave to the teachings and philosophy of Marcus Garvey," Executive Director and Curator of Liberty Hall, Donna McFarlane, tells JIS News in an interview.
"Education was very key for Garvey and I think that we have fallen down on that lesson, because in my mother's and grandmother' s day, they spoke nothing else but education, because they knew that education was a method by which we could improve our lives and build our nation," Miss McFarlane notes.
The Executive Director further asserts that all Jamaicans can participate in this endeavour to build the self esteem of the children and point them in the direction of education.
"I think that all of us can change this situation and we can change it one child at a time, through building self esteem and through education. We need to re-instill excellence in our children, and the fact that they can achieve excellence," she says.
"No child should be using the word can't, because they can and we must do our best to provide them with the materials and other conditions required for them to achieve their excellence," Miss McFarlane emphasises.
Education, along with self esteem, self reliance and an awareness and appreciation of the country's history are at the core of Liberty Hall's programmes and activities.
Built by Marcus Garvey in 1923 at its present location at 76 King Street, downtown Kingston and restored in 2003, Liberty Hall continues to provide an avenue for the holistic and progressive development of people.
"Liberty Hall is a cultural educational institution. When it started in 1923 on this site, it was a place where blacks could meet and learn about their history and converse on what was going on in Africa and the African diaspora," Miss McFarlane points out, explaining that Liberty Hall was also a place of business and enterprise.
"It was also a place where business happened. Garvey's office was here, there was a laundromat, a restaurant and an employment service, because Garvey was always about business," she adds.
Today, not much has changed in this regard. "Liberty Hall is a vibrant and wonderful place to come; the community has really bought into it, they love it, the children and adults come and learn here," she says. Miss McFarlane explains that school groups from all over the island also visit, the Deans of all the historically black colleges in the United States have visited, and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) regularly brings travel agents to the complex. Senior citizens and church groups also visit.
Liberty Hall contains a museum, computer centre, reference library and a hall, which hosts public lectures, poetry readings and cultural events. In 2006, it officially opened the Marcus Mosiah Garvey Multimedia Museum, the world's first museum on Marcus Garvey. It features 'Marcus Garvey: The Movement and the Philosophy,' a three-part documentary of Garvey's life and work. Visitors can also see films on self identity, Africa, and music and poetry inspired by Marcus Garvey and Pan-Africanism.
Another significant feature is its Multimedia Computer Centre, which provides access to members of the surrounding communities at a nominal fee, where adults and children learn essential computer skills.
"We teach adults in the mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon and children in the afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.," the Executive Director notes.
Additionally, there is the Garvey Research/Reference Library, which provides access to a wide range of literature relating to Garvey and his teachings, Pan-Africanism and the history and culture of Africa and the African Diaspora. The library also features a children's collection, which caters to children from the age of six to adolescence.
Social re-investment is also a top priority for Liberty Hall and as such it does a lot of public outreach in surrounding areas.
"We have a wonderful after school programme from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every evening and we teach computer skills, English, Mathematics, Art and Craft, Dance, Drama and assist with home work," Miss McFarlane tells JIS News.
"We also have a project with the Organization of American States (OAS), which allows us to teach literacy on a Saturday morning to adults and children, who are reading below their age and grade levels," she adds.
Significant progress has been made by Liberty Hall since 2003, but all of this might not have happened, as for a number of years it was in a derelict state.
However, a group called the Friends of Liberty Hall, chaired by Professor Rupert Lewis, got together and raised funds for its restoration. Along with assistance from the Jamaican Government, the Institute of Jamaica, the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica and other stakeholders, Liberty Hall was re-opened on October 20, 2003.
For the future, there are plans to launch a Journal and to undertake expansion.
"To celebrate our fifth anniversary, we will be launching a journal. We have a tentative name - the Black Star - and we will have articles about the making of Liberty Hall. Professor Rupert Lewis is going to put in an article and we are getting three articles about Liberty Hall and Garvey in Cuba," Miss McFarlane informs, noting that they would also be showcasing the work that they have been doing for the past five years.
As for expansion, a major fund-raising initiative is being planned for February 2009.
"We have run out of space, and the Institute of Jamaica is assisting us to purchase a building next door. To refurbish, it will cost a lot of money and so we hope to put on a massive fund-raiser in February 2009 with black luminaries reading Garvey's works. We dream big and are hoping for people like Winnie Mandela and Danny Glover," Miss McFarlane says.
The main purpose of Liberty Hall is to "inform the public about the work of Jamaica's first National Hero and to use his philosophy and opinions to inspire, excite, and positively affect the self-identity of Jamaican people, while creating social and economic wealth." It costs $40 for children and $100 for adults to access the facility.
Jamaicans Urged to Cleave to the Teachings of Marcus Garvey