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    Marcus Garvey: Black Moses

    The Negro Moses

    While dabbling in Jamaican politics, he remained a keen observer of the world events, writing voluminously in a series of his own periodicals.  His final move was to London, where he settles in 1935.  In his last years he slid into isolation, suffering the final indignity of reading his own obituaries a month before his death on June 10, 1940.  Redemption African Redemption, the political program of he UNIA, encompassed the territorial redemption of Africa from colonial rule and the spiritual redemption of the black race.  Garvey saw Africa as having fallen from a past of greatness that had to be restored for people of African descent to resume their rightful place in the world.  Such redemption could only be achieved by black peoples themselves.  The impact of Garveyism in African was considerable.  Garvey himself never set foot in Africa, but for many budding nationalist leaders, it was he who first implanted notions of black self-sufficiency and independence.
    Garveyism had a special tie with Liberia, the black ruled country created by free and freed African Americans in the early nineteenth century and the primary objective of Garvey’s Back to Africa campaign.  A few Garveyites independently immigrated to Liberia, but the grand UNIA colonization schemes all collapsed in the end.  Garveyism also flourished in the Caribbean.  More than any other early-twentieth century political phenomenon, it gave expression to a pan-Caribbean consciousness that crossed insular and political boundaries Garvey’s teachings functioned as a powerful catalyst for diverse religious interpretations deriving from the notion of black divinity as the spiritual mirror of racial sovereignty.  The UNIA program of African Redemption was continuously communicated through the biblical prophecy: “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unit god” (Psalms 68:31).  At the August 1924 UNIA convention, Bishop George Alexander McGuire, founder of the African Orthodox Church enunciated the doctrine of a black God and unveiled the black Madonna in Liberty Hall.  Various sects of proliferated and expanded on the fringes of the Garvey movement or arose from within its fold, such as Black Islam and Rastafarianism, and a major part of Garvey’s legacy was transplanted to the religious sphere.

    Garvey’s Legacy has also been manifest in the careers of leaders ranging from Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to Malcolm X in the United States of America.  Borne along on the tide of black popular culture, Garvey’s memory has attained the status of a folk myth.  He is daily celebrated and recreated as a hero through the storytelling faculty of the black oral tradition.  As the embodiment of that oral tradition transmuted into musical performance, Jamaica’s reggae music exhibits an amazing fixation with the memory of Garvey,  Re-evoking spiritual exile and the historic experience of black dispossession the music of such performers as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Burning Spear presents a Garvey who speaks from the past directly to the present.  The result today is that the legend of Garvey functions as an icon of universal Black pride and affirmation.

    “Black Skin is NOT a Badge of Shame, but rather a Glorious Symbol of National Greatness”

    Marcus Mosiah Garvey

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