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Garvey, Anguilla, the Holy Piby and Rasta

Subject Heartically Yours is published weekly in The Anguillian

Heartically Yours
The Garvey-Anguilla Connection
Ijahnya Christian

Globalisation may not have begun with Marcus Garvey,
but during the first quarter of the last century, this
Caribbean man, born in Jamaica on August 17th 1887,
commanded a world stage. With nothing more than the
technology of the printing press, an indomitable
spirit and a personality that could not be ignored,
Garvey mobilised Africans around the globe, to claim
the historical legacy of African civilization as the
foundation for the redemption of African nationhood
based on African unity of faith and purpose, industry
and commerce. Today, Heartically Yours commemorates
the anniversary of the birth of Marcus Mosiah Garvey
and the Anguillian contributions to his work.

In the Holy Piby Chapter 7 of the Second Book of
Athlyi called Aggregation is entitled “Marcus Garvey”.
It reads as follows:

‘Now in the year of nineteen hundred and nineteen on
the thirtieth day of the seventh month, when the
Athlyians were celebrating concord in the City of
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A., and on the third day of
the period a paper was read by the Rev. Bonfield
telling of Marcus Garvey in New York City.

And the Shepherd hesitated, then spake, saying: “I
almost believe this is one of the apostles of the
twentieth century, but where is the other? For I look
for two. However by the map of life I shall know him.
Raise not the weight of your finger on Marcus Garvey,
neither speak ye against him.”

In the year of 1921 Garvey spake again saying: “I
have no time to teach religion.”
Because of this saying, Athlyi took up his pen and was
about to declare him not an apostle of the twentieth

And it came to pass that the word of the Lord came to
Athlyi saying, “Blame not this man for I the Lord God
hath sent him to prepare the minds of Ethiopia’s
generations, verily he shall straighten up upon the

Nevertheless in the year nineteen hundred and twenty
two, Apostle Garvey issued a religious call throughout
the world which fulfilled the last item upon the map
of life. Therefore, Athlyi yielded him a copy of the
map, and declared Marcus Garvey an apostle of the Lord
God for the redemption of Ethiopia and her suffering
posterities…” ’

The Holy Piby was written by an Anguillian man named
Athlyi Rogers who was an ancestor on my mother’s side
and who hailed from North Side. The Piby was first
published in New Jersey in 1924. It was also known as
the Blackman’s Bible and so threatened American
society that it became a banned book that found its
way to the diamond mines of Kimberly, South Africa and
impacted strongly on the workers there. Robert Hill,
the most well known of the Garvey scholars in the USA
has argued that the Holy Piby is one of two books that
provide “the actual interpretative basis of Rastafari
ideology”. This is why Nik Douglas in the 1981-1985
Review of the Anguilla Archaeological and Historical
Society entitled his short piece on Shepherd Athlyi
Rogers, “The Anguillian Roots of Rastafari”. It is
said that Rogers influenced Garvey’s thinking about
the God of Ethiopia seen through the spectacles of
Ethiopia. Rogers may not have been an Ethiopianist
but he had certainly rejected the Euro-Christian
imagery of Western socialization for as a child I can
recall my grandmother talking about Athlyi Rogers and
laughing at his saying that heaven was like Brimigen
Bottom, one of the few green areas in Anguilla.

Rogers again makes reference to Marcus Garvey in
Chapters 1 and 2 of the Third Book of Athlyi named the
Facts of the Apostles, as the Apostle whose mission
was to gather Black people together for the purpose or
repatriation to the African motherland. Without email
and Internet, Garvey used his maritime connections for
spreading his ideas and by this means opened channels
for global communication. The late John W. Hodge
(Cousin Waddy), once told me that he remembered his
sister, who was a teacher, making a contribution to
Sir Emile Gumbs’ grandfather, a seaman, for the
financing of Marcus Garvey’s shipping venture, the
Black Star Line. In a 1987 Radio Programme on Marcus
Garvey, I interviewed the late Mr. Calvin Richardson,
uncle of the Honourable Leader of the Opposition,
Hubert Hughes. Mr. Richardson had been an executive
member of the Aruba branch of Garvey’s organisation,
the UNIA and his shoulders squared off with pride as
he spoke of their achievements for the working class
in Aruba. So when Hubert fights fiercely for the
working class in Anguilla, it did not begin with him.

People like me represent the continuation of a
tradition of self-determination (that did not begin
with the Anguilla Revolution), pride in our African
heritage and an ongoing pursuit of reconnecting with
the African continent. It is therefore not by
accident that I am Rastafari. It is also not by
accident that Anguilla has regressed into a society in
almost full denial of its Africanity. So it is in
the spirit of Marcus Garvey that I urge all
Anguillians to use every means at our disposal to pool
our energies and resources to determine the destiny of
this island that influenced the great Marcus. Don’t
stay away from the meetings of the Constitutional
Review Committee. Turn out in your numbers and make
sure your voices are heard. Jamaica has to
understand that along with Bob Marley, at least two of
their National Heroes belong to all of us. I speak of
Nanny and Marcus. May the spirit of the Honourable
Marcus Mosiah continue to dwell within and among us.

15 August 2001

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