Haile Selassie I Visit To Jamaica
Haile Selassie I visited Jamaica on Thursday, 21 April 1966. Some 100,000 Rastafari from all over Jamaica descended on Palisadoes Airport in Kingston, having heard that the man whom they considered to be God was coming to visit them. They waited at the airport playing drums and smoking large quantities of marijuana. Today the Rastafarians celebrate that Haile Selassie visited Jamaica on April 21st.
When Haile Selassie's Ethiopian Airlines flight landed at the airport at 1:30 PM, the crowd surrounded his plane on the tarmac. The day had been overcast and stormy. After about half an hour, the door swung open and the emperor appeared at the top of the mobile steps. A deafening tumult was heard from the crowd, who beat calabash drums, lit firecrackers, waved signs, and sounded Abeng horns of the Maroons. All protocol was dropped as the crowd pressed past the security forces and onto the red carpet that had been laid out for the reception. Selassie waved from the top of the steps; some interpreters have claimed that he shed tears, although this is disputed. He then returned into the plane, disappearing for several more minutes. Finally Jamaican authorities were obliged to request Ras Mortimer Planno, a well-known Rasta leader, to climb the steps, enter the plane, and negotiate the
King Selassie I Stepping off the plane in Jamaica
Emperor's descent. When Planno reemerged, he announced to the crowd: "The Emperor has instructed me to tell you to be calm. Step back and let the Emperor land" After Planno escorted the African monarch down the steps, journalists were puzzled by Selassie's refusal to walk on the red carpet on the way to his limousine. [hence grounation, Iyaric equivalent of foundation, "uplifted" with the sound of the word ground in the sense of "making contact with the soil"] He was then driven to the King's House, the residence of Governor-General Clifford Campbell.
As a result of Planno's actions, the Jamaican authorities were asked to ensure that Rastafarian representatives were present at all state functions attended by His Majesty, and Rastafari elders, including Planno and probably Joseph Hibbert, also obtained a private faudience with the Emperor, where he reportedly told them that they should not immigrate to Ethiopia until they had first liberated the people of Jamaica. This dictum came to be known as "liberation before repatriation". At a dinner held at the King's House, Rastas claimed that acting Jamaican Prime Minister Donald Sangster had stamped his foot at Lulu, Haile Selassie's pet chihuahua, who, they swore, had responded with the roar of a lion.