Mutabaruka flattered by petition - But dub poet believes Miss Lou, Bob Marley are more deserving of national hero status
Since the Office of the Prime Minister launched the Jamaica House Petition in July, many Jamaicans have sought to bring recognition to those who they believe are deserving of national honours.
Pan-Africanist Mutabaruka is one of those persons for whom a petition was started to award him the highest honour on the land.
But Mutabaruka told THE STAR blatantly that he does not believe the honour of national hero would be bestowed on him. He, however, thinks that the founder of the only religion to rise up out of the Americas should be made a national hero.
"Leonard Howell give rise to the only religion to rise up out of this part of the world. Leonard Howell give the world a new religion, Rastafari, and it came at a time of struggle, and because of him you have a religion that come from Jamaica," Mutabaruka explained. "Leonard Howell is why Bob Marley become who Bob Marley is because Bob is Rastafari. One thing that come from Jamaica that is still making an impact on the world is the voice of the Rastaman through the music."
Mutabaruka also believes that Bob Marley, Louise Bennett, Mary Seacole and Tacky, who led a slave rebellion in July 1760, should be bestowed with the honour.
"Tacky lead the biggest slave rebellion in Jamaica. He is just as important as Nanny," Mutabaruka said.
He admitted though that the fact that someone thinks he deserves this honour, speaks to the body of work he has been doing over the years to educate Jamaicans about their history.
"We have been doing programme [on the radio] for 20 odd years, and it must have reached a group of people, especially the young people who started out listening in the early years, who recognise that what we are doing is important," Mutabaruka told THE STAR.
"When we just started, a lot of people used to say a mad man, a foolishness, and they used to shun it. But the more people grow and get expose they realise that it is not foolishness."
Mutabaruka said he is also appreciated for his teachings beyond the borders of Jamaica.
"I feel good because at my age and to be still appealing to young people [it is great]. I don't know of anyone on radio who appeal to so many young people. It is really saying something," Mutabaruka said. "Those students who I meet all over the world in universities who send for me, they recognise that something that we are saying, something that resonate with them. So they keep gravitating towards me."
The petition to make Mutabaruka a national hero needs 15,000 signatures before October 23 for the matter to be raised in Parliament.