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Ras Mortimo Planno and Repatriation

"Many things have been said of the Rastafarian Movements which inspire two Professional paper on the Movement (l) One done by Professor George Easton Simpson 1958 - and another By Professor Arthur W. Lewis in 1960 - team of Roy Augier M.G.Smith and Rex Nettleford of U.W.I. Neither Professor Simpson team nor Dr A. W.Lewis's team of Smith, Augier and Nettleford are Rastafarian. But have somewhat Reported what the Rastafarians desire. Being a Rastafarian I should venture to classify in I own words and form of the Movement desire and our ultimate objective.Since I was Responsible for Dr Lewis Survey. Having Notice the wanton lack in approaching this subject matter of Repartriation to Ethiopia, I an I commited Self to study up's and down's in the Matter. These Studies had to be done by research and more research. I wanted to know more about Marcus Garvey Since he had advocated Repartriation back to Africa. I had to satify Self of How this could ever be done. I realizes that all can be achieve by the determination of a people to cite Law's that were made especially for them I started thinking upon certain lines. How one can be born in Jamaica and claim to be an African and need Repatriation to Africa. This Question as puzzling as it may Sound the answer was very easy: Slave's were taken away from Africa Some forceably while others were bought and Sold. To accept that I an I the product of Slavery gave I an I The Right to Speak as an African. Garvey Philosophy and Opinion was Studied. I an I also Studied booker T. Washington up from Slavery, and the Maroons. What did I an I find?"

--Ras Mortimo Planno, The Earth’s Most Strangest Man

Greetings and Rastafari Blessings in the Name of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile selassie I and Her Imperial Majesty Empress Menen 549 Days Before the Ethiopian Millennium

Inspiration came to I upon learning that Elder Mortimo Planno had forwarded unto the celestial life. "What can I&I do to continue the legacy of Brother Kumi," I asked Iself. Then it came to I: I&I can forward the living legacy of Brother Kumi by conducting the Repatriation Census. Why?

Examination of Ras Mortimo Planno life and works will reveal an exceptional devotion to the cause of Repatriation that included conducting a Repatriation Census.

Ras Mortimo Planno was a founding member of the Ethiopian World Federation Local #37 in Jamaica. In 1948, George Bryant, the Executive Secretary of the EWF Headquarters in New York, announced in a letter to the Executive Committee of Local #37 in Kingston, that 500 acres of land in Shashemane had been granted to the EWF from the personal property of the Emperor, given on a trial basis, “since the way it is utilized will be the touchstone for additional grants.” Furthermore, Bryan advised that the settlers “must be in groups and have the cooperative spirit of all for one, one for all . . . operating in this manner there can be no failure.” That same year, James and Helen Piper repatriated to Ethiopia, but returned in 1952. In 1955, however, the Pipers again forwarded to Ethiopia and James was appointed the Administrator over the land grant. Later, Ras Mortimo Planno would use the newspaper African Opinion to write letters and communicate with Mr. Piper in Shashemane.

1955 was also the year that the Ethiopian World Federation International Organizer, Maime Richardson, came to Jamaica to recruit volunteers to Repatriate to Ethiopia on land-granted by the Emperor. The Jamaica Gleaner of September 30 headlines the event as “Large Audience Hears Message from Ethiopia” and reports that that Ms. Mamie Richardson stated, “The Emperor is now engaged in building a Merchant Navy . . . . and the time was not far distant when ships from Addis Ababa would sail to American ports. There was the possibility that ships would one day call here [Jamaica]”. According to Ras Mortimo Planno, “The year 1955 was like a new era, for here move New Locals of the Ethiopian World Federation, Inc. was set up in Jamaica and members of the Rastafarian Movement got a charter and this was where Something effective happen.”

In 1958, Ras Solomon Wolfe, assisted by EWF International Organizer Mamie Richardson, established EWF Local #43 in Jamaica for the purpose of recruiting Repatriates to Ethiopia. In addition, on March 1, 1958, Ras Mortimo Planno along with Rastafari Patriarch Charles Edwards Emanuel and Nyahbinghi idrens of the Rastafari Movement convened their first major “national” Groundation and establish the Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress and Church of Salvation (EABIC) at 54 B Spanish Town Road “to gather all Ethiopian slave children in the Diaspora to return to Our Original Vine and Fig Tree through International Repatriation.” Three-thousand (3000) people gathered at the Nyahbinghi/EABIC Groundation. The Jamaican Police force eventually broke up the Groundation.
This led to the Nyahbinghi Order framing the issue as “Repatriation or Rebellion”, and the drafting of a letter which was sent to the Jamaican Chief Minister in 1959 and printed in the US-based African Opinion, stating:

“We have never failed from declaring our Intention of repatriating to our homeland Africa, we do not seek political power and titles from the British. We are now demanding of you in a united voice to use your instrumentality to cut loose the bonds of serfdom, before it is too late. We have always resisted the British government and her colonial puppets passively. Yet now the hour has come, that we will not hesitate to raise the standard of Armed Rebellion, Guerilla Warfare and Arson in our determined bid for Freedom . . .We shall give the order to our people for total war through Rebellion. We have reached the stage where our hands are on the trigger.” [Campbell, 1987]

On May 7 1959, the Jamaican Police force again clashed with the Rastafari Movement which lead to the destruction of much of the community in Back O’ Wall, Kingston. The event became known as the Coronation Market Riot. A year later, Jamaican police arrested Rev Claudius Henry, a Rastafari preacher, and several of his followers, and charged them with treason. Due to the level of downpression (“oppression”) that the Jamaican authorities waged against the Rastafari Movement, the movement invited the University of the West Indies to conduct research on the Rastafari Movement. Ras Mortimo Planno was instrumental in this. According to Brother Kumi, “Being one of the foremost Representative of the Rastafarian movement since 1958, I was the one who ask Dr A.W. Lewis to make his Survey.” At a meeting held on July 15th between the U.C.W.I. team, the Principal and a large number of brethren, it was agreed that the following is a fair statement of what Ras Tafari brethren want.

i. The Rastafari Brethren all want REPATRIATION

ii. All the brethren want local recognition and freedom of movement and speech, which are essential human rights

iii. All want an end of “persecution” by Government and police

iv. Some brethren want educational provisions, including adult education and technical training. Many brethren are skilled men seeking employment.

v. Some brethren have suggested that a special fund be set up, to be known as the Ras Tafari Rehabilitation Fund (Reparations)

vi. Others have asked for a radio programme to tell Jamaica about their doctrine; some for Press facilities.

The University Report included a recommendation that the government of Jamaica send a mission to Africa to arrange for Repatriation of the Rastafari Movement and other African peoples in Jamaica. Ras Mortimo Planno was thus selected as one of the brethren to represent Rastafari on the 1961 Back to Africa Repatriation Mission sponsored by the Jamaican Government.

In April of 1961 the mission, including three Representatives of the Rastafari Movement, was met and welcomed by H.I.M. Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Governor General Nnamdi Azikiwi of Nigeria, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President William Tubman of Liberia and Prime Minister Milton Margai of Sierra-Leone, African leaders, whose people had recently gained their national independence. Ras Mortimo Planno received a gold medal from Emperor Haile Selassie as well as a robe, and “was told not to take it as a token or a gift But to consider ourselves to be Ethiopian. His Imperial Majesty said. He know that the people of Jamaica and the people of Ethiopia are blood brothers, and when we are sending please send the Right People.” The issue of Repatriation was thus the primary issue of concern between the African Diaspora and leading governments of Africa who, two years later, would form the OAU.

In 1962, Jamaican Police raided and dismantle the Wareika Hill Rastafari Camp. In 1963, the Jamaican Government changed hands, and the new administration did not support the Rastafari Movement’s Repatriation agenda.

In 1966, Ras Mortimo Planno was awarded another gold medal by Emperor Haile Selassie I during the Emperor’s visit to Jamaica. After this, however, certain problems began to develop that frustrated the Repatriation Movement. According to Carol Yawney, a Canadian scholar of the Rastafari Movement and close associate of “Brother Kumi” who has also recently joined the celestial world,

"As the land grant in Shashemane was gradually settled on a small scale and in piece-meal fashion, with no overall programme for systematic repatriation, several tensions developed. There were conflicts between members of the EWF locals and those who did not belong to EWF locals. Within the EWF there were tensions between Rastafari and non-Rastafari members, as well as between those Rastafari who wore locks and those who did not. In particular, there was a long standing conflict between the original settlers and the administrator of the land grant, James Piper (who was not Rastafari and whom it was alleged refused to share the land) on the one hand, and later settlers, especially those who were Rastafari, on the other. Many individuals in Shashemane were self-repatriated and did not have easy access to financial and other resources, or were not supported by communities in the Caribbean, the USA, and the UK. There were also tensions between the repatriates and members of the local Ethiopian community. Finally, Rastafari residing in Ethiopia petitioned Emperor Haile Selassie I for an audience to resolve difficulties involved in the EWF/Piper administration of the Shashemane land grant [August 23, 1969]. They asked for the following concessions: 1. to be granted Ethiopian citizenship; 2. to be granted a separate administration to a portion of the land grant; 3. financial aid for equipment; 4. scholarships for some of their children."

A few weeks later, the Jamaican Daily Gleaner reported that members of the EWF in Jamaica departed on September 5 on a mission to develop 700 acres of land in Shashemane. The mission was composed of EWF Local #43 President Solomon Wolfe, Frederick Pryce, Gerald Brisset, Zeptah Malcolm, Mr. Malcolm's 8 year-old daughter Ophia, to be joined later by Mr. B J Moody. An EWF spokesman said, "the Federation was founded primarily to bring about the repatriation of its members to Africa the homeland of their ancestors." Jamaican Prime Minister Hugh Shearer and then opposition leader Michael Manley also visited Shashemane in September, 1969. After Manley's visit, Haile Selassie paid a visit to the community, and according to EWF Local #37 member Ras Mortimo Planno, H.I.M. Haile Selassie told the settlers not to carry Jamaican politics to Ethiopia. As a result of a meeting between Prime Minister Shearer and the Emperor as well as representations made prior to this by influential Jamaicans working in Addis Ababa, a decision was made to settle the Rastafarians elsewhere, rather than at Shashemane This caused some segments of the Ethiopian society to become jealous.

On September 21, 1970 the Jamaica Daily Gleaner reported, "Dr. Manley Writes that Rastas in Ethiopia Given 25 Acres Each." In fact, twelve repatriated settlers in Shashemane had received individual land grants of ten hectares each. EWF Local #43 Member Solomon Wolfe played major role in having the land grant tenure revised, partly because he was able to present evidence that he represented about 300 families which wished to repatriate to Ethiopia. In Jamaica many Rastafari, including those in Ras Mortimo Planno's circle, interpreted parceling out the land to individuals as an admission of failure to co-operate and to work collectively, a step backwards that would undermine the unity and credibility of Black people everywhere who wanted to repatriate. It was EWF Local #37's position that all Rastafari were entitled to repatriate to Shashemane, and that the land should be developed collectively, not individually. Ras Mortimo Planno then drafted a position paper entitled "The State of the Rastafari Movement." The essential problem, as he saw it, was the question of Jamaican and Rastafari identity in Ethiopia. Ras Mortimo Planno felt that to repatriate one must fully Ethiopianise oneself.

On July 11, 1971, the Jamaican Daily Gleaner reported that there were 17 Jamaican settlers on the 500 acre land grant. EWF Local #37 member Ras Mortimo Planno then formed a Land Grant Steering Committee in Shashemane to support a collective programme and sends a letter to the EWF Land Grant Development Committee in Shashemane (whose members had received individual titles to land there) stating in part, “If the lands are developed on an individual basis there is not much hope for members of the organization to come and settle . . . . A warning to the committee – beware of Greeks bearing gifts. We are to safeguard the EWF Inc. and prepare against infiltration, subversion and other acts of sabotage. We are to be one people. Loyal Ethiopians. Thinking of H.I.M. motto to the land grant: All for one and one for all, operating in this manner there can be no failure.” At this time, EWF Local #37 started its Amharic Language class.

Within a year, the Jamaica PNP Government sent another official mission to Africa under the leadership of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dudley Thompson. EWF Local #37 member Ras Mortimo Planno is among the five-man mission.Ambassador Foreman went to Shashemane to invite Rastafari who had concerns to meet with the delegates. When Ras Mortimo Planno returned from the 1972 mission, he reported that the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs had personally asked him to deliver a message to EWF Local #43 member Solomon Wolfe in Jamaica concerning the status of the 300 families in Jamaica that Brother Wolfe was representing. Perhaps this is why Ras Mortimo Planno began conducting a Repatriation Census in Jamaica. However, Ras Mortimo Planno only canvassed two parishes and never completed the Repatriation Census. By September 1972, Desmond Christie, Chairman of the EWF Land Development Centre in Shashemane sent a report to Jamaica and followed up with communications to both Manley and Thompson which indicated that while representatives to Ethiopia and their supporters in Jamaica were trying to appear united in public, backstage the dissension continued.

These remain the essential problems within the movement that are working against Repatriation: lack of a comprehensive, "collective security" community plan of development, disunity within the movement, and ambiguity over identity. Just who are the Repatriates: are they Jamaicans, Diasporans, Ethiopians, or Rastafari? Is a Rasta a Rasta first and/or only, and what then of the four main Houses: Nyahbinghi, Twele Tribes of Israel, EWF, and EABIC/Bobo Shanti? How will the houses resolve their differences? The answer to these questions will influence the approach to solving various problems.

In January of this year, I had the opportunity to meet Elder Ras Mortimo Planno and ask him about the Repatriation Census. Having been “mentored” in Chicago by Elder Gabriel (Patrick Diaz) who was a close older brother and close friend of Ras Mortimo Planno, as well as by Ras Xylon, a close younger brother guided by Ras Mortimo Planno, I had been especially influenced by the work and living legacy of Ras Mortimo Planno and I considered it a great honor to meet a man who had received two gold medals from HIM Haile Selassie I on behalf of the Rastafari Movement. I wanted to thank him and listen to his counsel of which I had heard so much of. I wanted to let him know that I was the recipient of the First Repatriation Fellowship of the African Caribbean Self Help Foundation (ACSHF), a UK Charity that Ras Xylon founded in Ethiopia in order to honor and fulfill Ras Mortimo Planno’s works. I wanted to ask him about his influencing of Malcolm X to grow his precepts and make Repatriation part of the Organization of Afro American Unity (OAAU) Basic Unity Program. Unfortunately, by the time I reached Brother Kumie in early January of this year, he was not able to reason fully with I.
Nevertheless, I am certain that among the greatest contributions of Ras Mortimo Planno is his legacy of sustained effort in organizing and negotiating for the physical return to Africa before the start of the Ethiopian Millennium.

The Repatriation Fellowship of the ACSHF was to I an inheritance of the good and noble works of Ras Mortimo Planno. Likewsie, attending the 1st Session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2003 as an observer, witnessing the inclusion of the African Diaspora as an official part of the African Union through Article 3(q), was reminiscent of Malcolm X, who attended early session of the AU predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), as the sole representative of and observer for, the Afro American people. Like Ras Mortimo Planno, Malcolm X returned from his second journey to Africa and began to conduct a Repatriation Census. According to Malcolm X himself (as reported on page 61 of Jan Carew’s Ghost in Our Blood),

“One of the things I saw the OAAU doing from the very start was collecting the names of all the people of African descent who have professional skills, no matter where they are. Then we could have a central register that we could share with the independent countries in Africa and elsewhere. Do you know I started collecting names, and then I gave the list to someone who I thought was a trusted friend, but both this so-called friend and the list disappeared. So, I’ve got to start all over again.”

Well, Ras Mortimo Planno influence Malcolm X in this area towards Repatriation. Even the Nigerians renamed Malcom X “Omowale” which means “Son of the Return.” Malcolm X started conducting a Repatriation Census and was shortly thereafter murdered. Ras Mortimo Planno started conducting a Repatriation Census, and now he is no longer with I&I and the Repatriation Census has still not been conducted and completed.

This is why I am now saying that the best way to honor Ras Mortimo Planno is to conduct and complete the Repatriation Census in time for the Rastafari Inity Conference in November of this year in South Africa.

Elders, Priests and Administrators of the Nyahbinghi Order, the EABIC/Bobo Shanti, The Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Ethiopian World Federation, Inc, as well as Rastafari organizations from around the world have been consistently consulted and informed about the Repatriation Census. Major Rastafari Singers and Players of Instruments have been appealed to in person with a specific plan of action on conducting the Repatriation Census and using it to facilitate Repatriation in the next 549 days. The African Union through its 6th Region Diaspora Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Western Hemisphere African Diaspora Network (WHADN) and IRIE, OAARU and Habeshi Inc (http://rastaites.com/repatriationnews/11repatriation.htm#01) is supporting I&I effort to conduct a Repatriation Census. A major meeting for Rastafari Inity is scheduled for Jamaica from April 13 -23 in commemoration of the 40th Anniverasry of HIM Haile Selassie I Visit to Jamaica. In the words of Ras Mortimo Planno, our “Brother Kumi”:

“One must not look upon the Movement by the various propoganda that has been spreading about The Rastafari Movement. The Concept of the Movement is basical as Rastafari is the Almighty God. I an I are Ethiopian and want Repatriation to Ethiopia. These and other ideas of the Movement is quite acceptable and applicable. . . . What we wanted was more important to Us than what the govt wanted. We wanted Rapatriation to Ethiopia thats what we said . . . . I only intention was to used the instrument of International law to Ressurect the unfinish Business of Repatriation. By Repatriation I an I mean a people leaving one country and to Return to his Own Country. . . . To impliment Repatriation under the term of claiming a Nationalist or changing your Nationality from the country you now domicile is worth Thinking about such thought are not mere thought of the day; they are problems which must be solved. . . . The Doggy approach to the Back to Africa desire by the people unnumbered is Both Questionable and challengable. . . . Time is important Time is Running out, and fustrations are setting in and the trouble maker's are making enought trouble. . . . The Sentiment of Peace no longer exist amongst a people when their dignity is Trampled upon . . . .For the love of mankind I and I Remind the world of the doom that await it from the hands of the almighty God His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I. . . . . We went to Ghana Here Nkhurma knew what the Mission was all about so he got down to business He wanted to know How many people wanted to come to Ghana: we did not have any ideas so He told us we are go Back to Jamaica and Make him a Memoradum and send it to him then He can do Something effectively. He knew Garvey and Dr Agreyette was in America and feel the Spirit of the Brothers in America He is hoping for the day when the people in America Should Say what the people of Jamaica say they want to come Home. . . . .The most important message to get across to the world now and is to send the people who are willing to identify themselves with the people of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is willing to take the iniciative to Resettle Black people in Ethiopia very hard task. . . . The History of the Rastafarian claim under review shows:

They are Right in claiming Ethiopian Nationality
They are Right in Claiming Ethiopian Citezenship
They are Right in wanting to be Carried back to Ethiopia!

His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I King of Kings Lord of Lords Emperor of Ethiopia Truely Recognize The Asperation of the Rastafarian Movement and show His willingness to Render the Service of God to the call and Desire of His Subjects.”

Everyone should read Ras Mortimo Planno’s manuscript, The Earth’s Most Strangest Man (http://www.rism.org/planno/toc.html).

I&I must conduct the Repatriation Census everywhere NOW! “Time is important Time is Running out, and fustrations are setting in and the trouble maker's are making enought trouble. . . .”

Most Heartically and Raspectfully,
Ras Nathaniel

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