In fitting finale, Jah Lloyd buried in Ethiopia

Jah Lloyd, elder and leading spokesman for the Rastafari Theocracy government, was buried in Ethiopia Sunday, a fitting finale for a man who spent most of his adult life advocating the return of members of his sect to the land of their ancestors.

The execution of his final rites brought an end to a lifelong crusade for repatriation and reparation for which he was a driving force and widely regarded in and out of the Rastafari community at home and aboard.

"We're going to let him have his wish to be buried in the land of his forefathers", Jah Lloyd's younger sister, Joan Young-Davis, who is senior director of communication in the Ministry of Local Government, told the Observer last week before leaving the island on Tuesday to assist with the arrangements for her brother's funeral.

Jah Lloyd was found dead in his room on Thursday, March 18 by Johnny Golding, his close brethren from Jamaica with whom he was staying in Ethiopia since mid last year promoting the efforts of the repatriation movement.

"We were very close. Before he went to Ethiopia, we were the only ones (family members) out here. He used to tell me that I'm a baldhead Rasta, meaning that I'm Rasta at heart", recalled Young-Davis.

Up to yesterday, the cause of Jah Lloyd's death was still not known, however, his sister had said an autopsy was scheduled to take place during the course of last week. "I'm hoping the result (of the autopsy) will not be cause for concern", she said, adding that her understanding was that her brother had "massive internal bleeding".

Young-Davis also disclosed that she was informed of her brother's passing by a member of the Ethiopian Royal Family who spoke highly of him and stated that he (Jah Lloyd) had made "extremely significant moves and has done a lot of work as far as lobbying for repatriation and reparation are concerned".

A simultaneous memorial ceremony is being planned for May 25 in Ethiopia and Jamaica in honour of Jah Lloyd. May 25 is annually celebrated worldwide as African Liberation Day.

Last Saturday, the local Rastafari community had a day and night vigil/wake of chanting and drumming at their departed brethren's Washington Drive home in the Mona area.

Born Lloyd Young to the late Doris and Albert Young, Jah Lloyd attended Kingston College before studying music and the fine arts in Canada where he learned to play the guitar.

Returning to Jamaica sometime in the 1960s, Jah Lloyd experienced a transformation which led to him joining forces with Abuna Blackheart (of the Ethiopian Judah Coptic Church) and the late Ras Makonnen (George Nelson) to form a triumvirate of the more militant voices within the Rastafari community in the 1970s and 80s.

"End of an era. His contribution to the gathering at UWI when South African president, Thabo Mbeki, was here last year was memorable... as was the tabling of that document in Parliament," was how Dr Imani Tafari-Ama remembered Jah Lloyd.

The document he tabled in Parliament in the 1980s, to which she made mention, was a proposal that special constitutional rights be granted to Rastafarians, including the recognition of the rights of reparations/repatriation to descendants of Africans taken here forcibly under British slavery.