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Kingston, Jamaica (McN) – Steven Golding, president of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which was founded by Marcus Garvey, and has branches worldwide, has ventured into nursery rhyme literature.
Steven Golding, a dedicated pro black activist, got what seemed like an epiphany when his five-year-old son received a book of nursery rhyme as a gift.
Golding, a Garveyite and the son of former Prime Minister, Honorable Bruce Golding has set out on an expedition of reading, researching, and carefully examining the cultural background of nursery rhymes. His research lead him to the European history in the era of slavery, in which these nursery rhymes were written.
“London Bridge (is falling down) was actually written when they were building London Bridge; Mary Mary Quite Contrary was about Queen Mary, who, her sister, Queen Elizabeth I, usurped. Silver bells and cockle shells were instruments of torture,” he outined.
“When I began to understand the history of some of these nursery rhymes, I began saying to myself, ‘Why is it that we, a country formerly enslaved by the British, a country that has such a reputation for culture in the global market right now, how is it that we are propagating nursery rhymes to our children that have nothing to do with our own cultural history as Jamaicans’.”
The pro African-Jamaican, Rastafarian, Steven Golding has created a Jamaican centered book of nursery rhymes for Jamaican children, titled Garvey Nursery Rhymes. He says Jamaican educators should be using our own rhymes to teach the nation’s children about their own roots and not continue to promote that of slave masters.
Golding tells the nation’s educators,
“Stop regurgitating a 300/400-year-old story that doesn’t have anything to do with the achievements of your own people and your nation. We’re not obligated to or bound by the curriculum that was given to us by the people who formerly oppressed our ancestors and enslaved them,” he said. “We’re entitled to our own opinions. We must inspire a literature and promulgate a doctrine of our own without any apologies to the powers that be. The right is ours. I’m quoting Marcus Garvey word for word.” Says, Steven Golding.
He went on give examples of the difference in his recreated nursery rhymes, “Garvey Nursery Rhymes.”
“I saw it as one of the last vestiges of colonialism, which is so sown into our curriculum that I think we fail to recognise it. A lot of our teachers may not even know the history of these nursery rhymes,” he said. “We’ve done Mary Mary Quite Contrary, which is now Nanny Nanny Quite Uncanny. Now, they will speak to our story. Ours says: “Nanny Nanny quite Uncanny, where did the Redcoats go. On bended knees as if to ease, she popped them all in a row. It speaks to the Maroon war against the Redcoats who eventually had to sign a treaty with them.”
Golding gave another example:
“We have others like ‘I had a little nut tree, nothing would it bear, but a silver apple and a golden pear … the King of Spain’s daughter came to visit me and all for the sake of my little nut tree‘. We have refitted that to say, ‘I had a little herb tree, nothing would it grow, but a silver Moringa and a golden ‘Tinkin toe. The king of Ethiopia came to visit me and all for the sake of my little herb tree.’ That actually speaks to the 1966 visit of Haile Selassie, who came to Jamaica five years to the date after meeting Rastafarians in Ethiopia. He came to meet these people, and there is no greater symbol for the Rastaman right now than the herb.”
Steven Golding is hoping the his book, Garvey Nursery Rhymes will be published by September.
“I would really love to have them out for September, but you know funding is always an issue. We’ve put in a couple applications for assistance here and there, but regardless, we practise self-reliance, so we will publish even if we have to self-publish,” he said, explaining that the nursery rhymes are something he believes will revolutionise the way children embrace their African heritage. Affirms, new author, Steven Golding.
“People never forget these nursery rhymes from dem likkle bit till dem dead, so we are hoping to achieve the same thing.” He ended.
Golding announced in 2011 that his name changed to Gabre Selassie, following baptism at the Saint Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Gondar, Ethiopia on May 15 of that year.
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