After 25 years of working in, and building with the Ras Tafari communities of Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland, Ras Tafari Elder Maurice Clarke (Ras Irice) returned to Jamaica as a guest of the University of the West Indies-Mona, and a senior leader within the Ras Tafari Movement.
Elder Irice has been an active member of the Ras Tafari Movement since 1952 and is the current Executive Director of the I-Niversal Development of Ras Tafari Inc. (IDOR), a US based 501 © (3) nonprofit organization with offices in Washington DC and Baltimore Maryland. He was invited by Dr. Jahlani Niaah, Coordinator for the Rastafari Studies Conference, and the Ras Tafari Studies Unit at the University of the West Indies-Mona, to participate in the Rastafari Studies Conference and General Assembly from August 13 – 16, 2013.
The Conference marked the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Coral Gardens massacre of many Ras Tafari faithful by the Jamaican security forces under the directives of former Prime Minister, Alexander Bustamante. It also commemorated the lives of the victims and victors of the massacre, including Elder Ras Irice.
Elder Irice participated in several panels and meetings, giving first-hand testimony and oral narratives to the atrocities against members of the Ras Tafari community. He also assisted in providing micro histories on several key players from both the Jamaican government and the Ras Tafari Movement who were either victims or perpetrators of the 1963 massacre. In his capacity as Executive Director of the I-Niversal Development of Ras Tafari Inc. (IDOR), Father Irice presented the ‘State of IDOR Affairs Report’ to the University and introduced or updated the Organization’s work to members of the Ras Tafari Community.
According to the Elder, there were many highlights of his trip, including visits to the Western campus of the University in Montego Bay, visits among his many peers within the Ras Tafari Movement, and the intimate connections and reconnections made with officials at the University and the Jamaican Ras Tafari Community. Elder Irice was especially encouraged to have the current Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Right Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller address the Conference and offer an official apology to the Ras Tafari Community and victims of the massacre. Perhaps, the next step will see the government make just amends to the Ras Tafari Movement and to the families of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.
The Elder expressed a deep appreciation for the current leadership within the Jamaican Ras Tafari Communities, especially that of the Pitt Four Nyahbinghi Center, the Millennium Council, Bobo Shanty Mansion/High Priest, Twelve Tribes of Israel and The Ethiopian Orthodox Church. His ‘do good’ chant and words of encouragement to the faithful is, “yodd along Ingels, yodd along…the hotter the battle, the sweeter the victory!”
May the Power of the Trinity, Haile Selassie I be our ever-living guide!!