A true legend has left us. And, although many Grenadians, including many adherents to RASTAFARI, might take umbrage with such a bold statement, Prince Nna Nna’s role in the establishment of RASTAFARI in Grenada, and his many other escapades should never go unnoticed.
Rasta Nang’s claim to fame as the first black-belt martial artist on the island of Grenada is one of his many other accolades. His role as the leading Physical Training Instructor of the troops of the Peoples’ Revolutionary Army (PRA), and his position as one of the most trusted bodyguards of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop during some of the most dangerous periods of the revolution should also be placed on record.
But Rasta Nang’s accomplishments extend beyond the period of his involvement within the revolutionary hierarchy. Given his adherence to the values espoused by RASTAFARI, he was one of the earliest persons to stand up against the excesses of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG).
He had no fear publicising his opposition to the bourgeoisie-style administration of the PRG in the Torchlight newspaper. Thus, the extent of the repression that was thereafter meted out to him could only be deemed a precursor to how the revolutionary leaders subsequently annihilated themselves.
Even so, Rasta Nang’s involvement with the revolution fades miserably in comparison to his yeoman contribution as a SOLJAH for RASTAFARI. He could be commended for almost single-handedly erecting the Nyabinghi tabernacle located next to the Maurice Bishop International Airport, and his gallant role in shepherding the Nyabinghi Order could never be justifiably discounted.
Additionally, his relentless advocacy for the decriminalisation of “ganga” must be noted.
Rasta Nang’s significance within the broader geopolitical context might be better appreciated by juxtaposing the raison d’etre of RASTAFARI with the initial objectives of the New Jewel Movement (NJM). For most of the last two thousand years, the more powerful nations of the world have been ruthlessly oppressing weaker nations with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
As part of the process, the African race was collectively enslaved and colonised by Europeans and Arabs. The German philosopher Karl Marx painstakingly analysed the situation in his book The Communist Manifesto, and in subsequent years the Socialist International organisation came into being to usher in a more egalitarian global polity. It was to such a system that leaders like Maurice Bishop, Bernard Coard, and Rosie Douglas of the neighbouring island of Dominica hitched their wagons.
As Grenadians sadly came to realize, however, the battle lines of such a new world order had already been drawn between the so-called communist and capitalist powers. Accordingly, while Third World countries like Grenada had attained “paper independence”, their freedom to navigate the rough waters of big power politics left them as mere pawns at the hands of the bigger players. Thus, the attempt by the PRG to align themselves on one side or the other was doomed to fail.
Even as European nations and the United States were parroting the slogan “WORKERS UNITE”, they were busy doing everything in their power to keep other people disunited. It did not take long before the Right Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey discerned that the overall mechanics of world governance were premised on a dynamic of racial identity. As Garvey explained, the whole system of international relations is based on the principle of “RACE FIRST”.
The Jamaican-born Pan-Africanist strongly believed that (AFRICANS) BLACK people were no less endowed than other races and he insisted that BLACK people could become equal to other races by the REUNIFICATION of the African continent.
Garvey was not the only BLACK man who saw the light. The same message was echoed by His Imperial Majesty (HIM) Emperor Haile Selassie I, President Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, and other enlightened BLACK personalities. It was in the spirit of such times, therefore, that the Rastafarian Movement derived its genesis.
And, although many black people are not aware of the full potential and urgency of the fledgling philosophy of RASTAFARI, millions of others like Prince Nna Nna are convinced that the BLACK race could never be redeemed without the concomitant development of a vehicle that would serve as a collective articulation of the COLLECTIVE experiences, hopes, and aspirations of the AFRICAN People.
All of the other races have recognised the need for such a mechanism for racial cohesiveness. The Indians arrived at such a consciousness around 500 BC and instituted the belief system now known as Hinduism. The Chinese experienced a similar kind of reawakening, and the philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism gradually came into being.
The Roman emperor Constantine I adopted the movement called Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire and he successfully used the institution as the main instrument to extend the Empire. A merchant named Muhammad ibn Abdullah founded the way of life known as Islam, and disparate Arab groups were thereby united.
The only race that has failed to see the need for establishing such a kind of COLLECTIVITY is the AFRICAN People. Instead, Black People continue to bask in the putrid ambiance of other peoples’ ways of thinking and believing.
Notwithstanding the many kinds of tokenism that are meant to lull the race into a conditioned state of contentment, BLACK people have nothing to show for our COLLECTIVE existence on planet Earth. For instance, while all of the other racial groups have their respective stockpiles of nuclear weapons and other kinds of technological gadgets, BLACK people are as vulnerable as we have ever been in this unpredictable world.
The emerging Philosophy of RASTAFARI must, therefore, be recognized as a deliberate effort by enlightened BLACK people to fully assert the BLACK Race as the equal of other races. Such an objective was espoused by all of the individuals mentioned above. It is in this sense, therefore, that RASTAFARI must be understood as a dialectical synthesis of the lives and teachings of such noble personalities.
As HIM admonishes: “UNTIL THE PHILOSOPHY THAT HOLDS ONE RACE SUPERIOR AND ANOTHER INFERIOR IS FINALLY AND PERMANENTLY DISCREDITED AND ABANDONED, THE WORLD WILL NOT KNOW PEACE.”
Rasta Nang might not have been a statesman, philosopher, or musician of world renown. However, his willingness to deny himself and take on the gigantic responsibility of leading the AFRICAN masses along the path of RASTAFARI speaks volumes. And so, this is why Rasta Nang’s passing must be seen as a tremendous loss to every BLACK man, woman, and child who long to live in the type of world envisaged by HIM and other enlightened BLACK leaders.
TRANSITION IN ETERNAL GLORY MY BROTHER!