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  1. #1
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    Leonard Howell - The First Rastafarian

    Meant to post this on his birthday. He was June 16, 1898...oh well better late than never. There has been a lot of misinformation about Leonard Howell and Pinnacle. Just trying to sort through what is fact and what is fiction.

    Last edited by Tropicana; 06-22-2013 at 01:43 AM.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    Hailed by many worldwide as the founding father of Rastafari, and vilified by history as a mad man, Leonard Percival Holwell’s contribution to the development of Jamaican culture cannot be denied.


    Born in Clarendon, Jamaica on June 16th 1898, Howell was blessed with parents who instilled a fiery sense of independence in their son. Successful farmers they were, Thomas and Clementina graced their son with opportunities that would enhance his intellectual and social capabilities.

    By his early twenties, the spurt of the Pan-African movement enticed the youth to find his way by ship to New York City, and to search through its boroughs to discover the epicenter of the black civil rights movement, Harlem.

    But it was his humble rural upbringing that became the catalyst which created history.

    Howell arrived in New York to find an intensity of Bigotry, Racism, and social oppression much more than he had imagined. It was after one such personal encounter that he dedicated his life to fight against racial hatred and social oppression.

    Within months after his decision, Howell plunged himself into preaching his visionary message across America. The power of his word drew invitations from dignitaries across the world including Europe, UK and the Motherland Africa.

    By the late 1920’s his message had reached the ears of eminent scholars such as W.E.B. Dubios, Heads of States such as Beniot Sylvain Of Ethiopia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Bishop Johnson Of Nigeria, and Jomo Kenyatta amongst others.


    In 1932 Howell returned to Jamaica with an urge to share his wealth of knowledge with his kinsman.

    He was pleased to find on his arrival, that the message of his majesty’s crowning as Ras Tafari had already been embedded by Marcus Garvey and his Pan-African movement - The UNIA.

    He set about spreading his message throughout the shanty towns and tenement yards which were scattered on the outskirts of Kingston. By word of mouth his message reached thousands more in other despondent communities throughout Jamaica, fevering a movement that was still yet to take its full form.

    Howell’s fundamental philosophy was not much different from the Pan African scope of the Marcus Garvey led UNIA. But his intense focus on social and economic empowerment through self sufficiency soon became a problem, not only for the Jamaican government, but also for UNIA founder Marcus Garvey.

    Garvey advised Howell at one point to take a much more passive approach in disseminating his message and systematic re-education of the mentally enslaved lower social strata. His decision to stand his ground soon led to rift between the two that sadly was never mended.

    His concept of the black God and ultimate supremacy of Africa slowly began to become an item of growing concern amongst the socialites and heads of state in Jamaica. But it was not until his land purchase of over 500 acres in Sligoville, St. Catherine, was Leonard Howell blacklisted by the Jamaican society, becoming the country’s most hated and vilified character in history.

    This purchase of land which he named the Pinnacle ignited within Jamaica a mini-exodus. Thousands of despondent members of Jamaica’s lower class moved to Howell’s new nation.

    It was the birth place and the epicenter of the Rastafarian movement.


    For many it was a promised land. An African village in Jamaica empowered and preserved by self sufficiency, re-education, and healthy living by consuming organic plants and vegetables. The experimentation of naturalism led to the development of a myriad of herbal root concoctions such as tonics, and medicines that are still produced today.

    Unique creative art forms emerged during this period of Black Renaissance. The grassroots poetry movement known as Dub Poetry, Intuitive Art Masters, and world renowned musicians were spawned and inspired by The Pinnacle.

    This was the place where the Rastafarian mantra of “oneness” was conceived; whilst Howell designed the divine structure and principles of what is now known today as the “Nyabinghi Order”.

    The Jamaican Secret Service working under the auspices of the British MI5, began compiling a dossier on Leonard Howell after his landmark case against the Jamaica Government on behalf of the newly formed Rastafarian movement to establish an independent nation within the island.

    He was tried and charged on a one count of sedition and sentenced to twenty four months in prison.

    During this time The Pinnacle sustained and mushroomed and on his release in 1936, Howell was secretly considered the biggest enemy of the State.
    By the late 1930’s Howell was labeled by the middle class and upper crust as one of Jamaica’s most dangerous social influences, and the evident fact of the growing impact on the lower class did not help his reputation.

    His intense hard lined allegiance to Haile Selassie led to Local government officials and the monarch having concerns in regards to his “implicit allegiance to a foreign King”, as recorded in a report by a member of the Jamaica Secret Service.

    His condemnation of the Christian Church led to thoughts of insurrection and images of revolt.

    It came to a boiling point in 1954 with one of the first joint police/military operations in Jamaica. Under orders from Prime Minister Bustamante on special advisement from the Monarch, a battalion of soldiers, police and select members of the Jamaica Secret Service executed a pre-emptive raid on The Pinnacle and destroyed the village, farmers, homes, and schools that had been constructed, leaving thousands homeless.

    Many Refugees of The Pinnacle found shelter in Coral Gardens, another Rasta Village that had sprung up in the early 40’s and that too found itself a victim of social persecution and destruction which led to a number of deaths in 1960.

    Shortly after the raid on Coral Gardens, The Pinnacle was re-established but again fell prey to an onslaught of raids and unjustified curfews, that led to hundreds of male Rastafarians being locked up and lost in the Grit of the colonial prison system.



    Continue reading at NowPublic.com: Remembering The Founding Father Of Rasta - Leonard Howell | NowPublic News Coverage http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/rem...#ixzz2X44csWgu
    Last edited by Tropicana; 06-23-2013 at 02:30 PM.

  5. #5
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    Continued:

    The few who escaped found refuge in the back-o-wall shanty towns and tenement yards of the garrison ghettos of Kingston City. Other missionaries of the movement, such a Mortimer Planno and Ras Sam Brown continued spreading the word of Rastafari amongst Jamaica’s downtrodden.

    These disciples carried with them the seeds of creativity and spiritual passion that has kept the movement alive until today. It was with these seeds and essence of creativity from which the musical art form known as reggae was spawned.

    In the mid 70’s a group of Rastafarians returned to occupy a small portion of land belonging to The Pinnacle, and helped support and provide for the aged Howell who died in an infirmary in 1981, labeled a mad man.

    In his lifetime Howell had been arrested, incarcerated and was sent to Jamaica's Mental Institution over (50) fifty times.

    The Jamaican government has confiscated millions of dollars from Howell and frozen The Pinnacle’s bank accounts for nearly half a century under the clause that it was money derived from ganja production.

    At today’s economic standards, these funds have escalated to tens of millions of dollars that could be used to re-establish The Pinnacle and further aid the mission of Rastafari, whose Mantra “One God, One Aim, One Destiny” became the war cry for a movement that has gathered millions of members from around the world, of all races, establishing itself as one of Jamaica’s strongest and most recognized cultural identities.

    Look around you.

    The myriad of people, who now sport “dreadlocks”, is atonement to the influence of Rastafari globally.

    Listen with your ears.

    You will hear in almost every Hiphop beat, a taste of Dancehall as the sub-cultures of the movement founded by Leonard Howell nearly a century ago continues to take root.

    Love him or hate him, Leonard Howell is The Father and founder of one of the world fastest growing spiritual sub-cultures, the movement called Rastafari.

    Its a fact few remember, and one we should never forget.
    Glad that the full story is being told. There were a lot of misconceptions.

  6. #6
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    Okay this is what the Jamaica Observer says about Pinnacle. I have no idea if it is fact or fiction but my gut tells me fiction:

    IN recent weeks we have observed new developments relating to Pinnacle, especially the "reoccupy Pinnacle" campaign. We have seen private citizens being disrespected by those along this path. These events remind me of the rumours of ships coming and also of the coffin and crow moving about Kingston looking for 'Mr Brown'.I make these points because everything about the campaign is fraudulent. There has been no Rastafari settlement in Pinnacle since 1954. Clearly, there is no right to Rastafarians claiming Pinnacle lands. The results of a recent court case about 'eviction from Pinnacle' may have confused many. Pinnacle was bought under the auspices of the Ethiopian Salvation Society (ESS) — formed on January 11, 1939 — in 1940. In 1945, the bailiff, accompanied by police officers "armed to the teeth", removed the residents from Pinnacle off the land due to incomplete payment for the property. In 1954, the police destroyed Pinnacle and scattered the seeds of the early Rastafari movement. How could the police have destroyed homes and broken up the commune if it was owned by the ESS? Leonard Howell lived from 1956 to the time of his passing at Tredegar Park. Did he ever take anyone to court in order to reclaim Pinnacle?
    In 1940, the commissioner of police spoke about the "unsettled labour conditions" in eastern St Thomas and that Howell was a threat to order in the parish. The colonial government abused wartime powers and passed a law that prevented Howell and the ESS from holding public or private meetings in St Thomas.
    According to the "Rules of the Ethiopian Salvation Society" it was designed to be a "friendly benevolent society" with the aim to assist its members in times of hardship, to transact legitimate business on behalf of the organisation, and most importantly "this society aims at the inculcation of the principles of self-help and good citizenship". It was against this background that Pinnacle was purchased to build an "industrial mission".
    In November 1940 a newspaper interviewer went to Pinnacle. He observed the setting and interviewed Howell, whom he described as a "strong disciplinarian" and a "dapper", and that he was like an "absolute monarch" over 700 men and women "forming a socialist colony". The interviewer stated that "Pinnacle is the dream of an imaginative man who has the will to impose it on numerous people", and that one should not attack the totalitarian rule of Howell because "he must either rule or not". The writer described the ESS as a business organisation. He observed the agricultural production, the craft industry, and that "they owned' a bakery and dozens of handcarts in Kingston.
    Pinnacle was a place and a concept for industry and self-reliance. By and large, the early Rastafarians were characterised by self-help and industry; a vast majority were self-employed in a range of areas. In spite of this creative direction there were forces that were working against Howell and Pinnacle. After the publication of that November interview, the newspaper published "Plight of Ras Tafarians at Camp Pinnacle" (December 22, 1940), describing major health problems at the commune. The article was informed by the parish council that living conditions at the camp were intolerable. It noted also that Howell was enforcing discipline in the form of floggings. Pinnacle was now under the microscope of the police, who described it as a "sanctuary for criminals". There was a call to "break up" Pinnacle by an inspector of police at Spanish Town (dated June 8, 1941). In responding to this call, the solicitor general informed the police and cautioned the use of force, but did not support the call for destroying Pinnacle in the same manner that "King's House" — Howell's first headquarters at Harbour Head Road in Port Morant — was destroyed.
    The story of the Rastafarians becoming a menace to the community at Sligoville was cooked up to make way for the first major police raid on Pinnacle. According to the newspaper report "Police raid Pinnacle, Ras Tafari den, seize seventy, but miss chief" (July 14, 1941), shortly before 4:00am, a strong contingent of police "surprised' the residents of Pinnacle. It was reported that a party of 153 police and "their officers motored out of Kingston in high-powered cars... with a full supply of rifles". Another article, "Cult leader held by police" (July 26, 1941) tells the story of the midnight arrest of Howell by the police. It was his first arrest as leader of the commune. At his trial at Spanish Town, in August 1941, he defined and described Pinnacle and he tried to extricate himself from a charge of assault. He was sent to prison for two years. When he returned two years after, the south St Catherine School Board passed a resolution, dated February 24, 1944, calling on the Colonial Secretary to take repressive measures against the community at Pinnacle. The colonial secretary, in a letter (April 17, 1944), told the school board: "If, as I believe, Pinnacle belongs to or is leased by Howell or his organisation, the Government can take no steps to break up the settlement.... As long as Howell's followers observed the law they are entitled to lie unmolested the way they live". Howell was again arrested in 1944 and his reputation was further tarnished.
    In October 1945 two important articles regarding the "real estate crisis" at Pinnacle were published in the newspaper. In "Leonard P Howell leaves Pinnacle on court order: Shepherd leads flock from Kingdom" (October 12, 1945), the reports states that a bailiff, "protected by a police Inspector and 13 men armed to the teeth", served a writ to vacate the Pinnacle because Howell failed to meet his contractual obligations. According to the article, Howell bought the land in a public auction, paid a part of the money, but was unable to pay the rest of the money. The other article, "Jamaica's great Ras Tafarite kingdom comes to an end" (October 14, 1945), tells the story of the bailiff from Messrs Lake and Nunes legal firm serving the paper at 8:00 am. He was accompanied also by newspaper reporters, who described the setting from Howell's plea to the 'exodus' from Pinnacle led by a strong young lady known as Pearl. They left in what appeared to have been a rehearsed march, but returned after the bailiff and reporters departed. It was reported that the bailiff declared that the "Ras Tafarite kingdom comes to an end".
    The second eviction from Pinnacle occurred in 1954 in a major raid by the police. Pinnacle was destroyed and many persons including children were arrested. According to newspaper report, over eight tons of ganja was confiscated and 140 Rastas taken into custody. Howell lived, from 1956 to his death, at Tredegar Park. There he made no effort to regain Pinnacle. Howell, a man of extraordinary intellectual qualities, would not allow the police to evict him from his property and took it sitting.
    There is no claim that any Rastafari group can make on Pinnacle lands. The negotiation for a national heritage site is accepted in general and no confrontation is required. Those people demonstrating would not be supported by Leonard P Howell. I cannot understand how the court could accept a case without a sound basis. It is good to see young Rasta demonstrating, but they must do it for the right cause. This demonstrations and activism are reminiscent of those who have been waiting for the ship that will never come. How can people who should be leading a new morality be moved by lies and anecdotal positions on a land they never knew? It is so good to see that the Howell family members have separated themselves form the most recent activism on Pinnacle. Those who are misleading the flock are dangerous self-seekers making claims on matters they have no knowledge about. The current owners of Pinnacle need to negotiate with the Government, and no one else, regarding Pinnacle as a national heritage site.
    http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/colum...atter_15943398

  7. #7
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    praises due to the immortal GongGuru Maraj


  8. #8
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    GongGuru Maraj sounds like an East Indian name to me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tropicana View Post
    GongGuru Maraj sounds like an East Indian name to me.
    one of howell's official titles...there was a prominent east-indian within the inner-circles of pinnacle, and some east-indian influence

  10. #10
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    Jamaicans of East Indian heritage?

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