A documentary by
Deborah A. Thomas,
John L. Jackson, Jr. and
Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn
BAD FRIDAY: RASTAFARI AFTER CORAL GARDENS
A documentary film directed by Deborah A. Thomas and John L. Jackson, Jr.
Producers: Deborah A. Thomas, John L. Jackson, Jr., Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn, and Junior "Ista J" Manning
Musical Director: Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn
For many around the world, Jamaica conjures up images of pristine beach vacations with a pulsating reggae soundtrack. The country, however, also has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, and the population is actively grappling with legacies of Western imperialism, racial slavery, and political nationalism – the historical foundations of contemporary violence in Jamaica and throughout the Americas. BAD FRIDAY focuses on a community of Rastafarians in western Jamaica who annually commemorate the 1963 Coral Gardens "incident," a moment just after independence when the Jamaican government rounded up, jailed and tortured hundreds of Rastafarians. It chronicles the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community, and shows how people use their recollections of past traumas to imagine new possibilities for a collective future.
Format: A feature-length documentary (running time 63 minutes) shot in DV, mini-DV and HD that also includes archival footage, reproductions of still photographs, and an original score composed by Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn. BAD FRIDAY is in English and Jamaican patois, with English subtitles.
Style: The film is shot mostly in an observational and ethnographic style, with hand-held shots of Rastafarians giving us the history of the movement, explaining the events leading up to the Coral Gardens "incident," and offering testimonials about their own experiences of violence at the hands of the Jamaican state as a result of that incident. The film concludes with a discussion of reparations, both broadly (for those who were trafficked as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade) and specifically (for those Rastafarians who suffered at the hands of the Jamaican security forces in 1963). BAD FRIDAY is not dominated by experts and talking heads, as the subjects speak for themselves. The film was shot on location in Jamaica, and the original score features modern renderings of the traditional musical forms that comprise the roots of reggae music.
January 24, 2012 | by ivetteromero | Repeating Islands European Release of "Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens"
January 24, 2012 | Caribbean Creativity Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens now out on DVD
January 24, 2012 | FriendFeed Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens now out on DVD
January 23, 2012 | by reggaefilms | reggae.com Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens now out on DVD
January 23, 2012 | Caribbean Entertainment Magazine Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens now out on DVD
January 23, 2012 | by Emiel Martens | Abeng News Magazine Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens
January 23, 2012 | Reggae & Jamaican Film News Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens now out on DVD
January 16, 2012 | Caraïbisch uitzicht Europese première van Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens
January 16, 2012 | GoodTimes Entertainment Magazine Europese première van Bad Friday
January 15, 2012 | by Dutch Rasta - www.dutchrasta.nl Rootical Vibrations: Bad Friday
January, 2012 | Caribbean Creativity Rootical Vibrations V: Rasta Struggles
January, 2012 | reggae.be 10/02 Rootical Vibrations V
November 11, 2011 | by Ethnolust Documentation and Dissemination
October 24, 2011 | by Andrea E. Shaw | Jamaica Primetime Making Bad Friday Better: An Interview with Deborah Thomas
July 3, 2011 | by Howard Campbell | The Gleaner 'Bad Friday' - Documentary resurrects Jamaica's forgotten past
July 2, 2011 | by Mel Cooke | The Gleaner 'Bad Friday' documents brutality to Rastafari
May 16, 2011 | Stabroek news Bad Friday and its aftermaths: Rastafari and Reparations in Jamaica
Past and Upcoming Screenings
Lehigh University, 16 October 2014
Sundial Cultural and Learning Center, Bronx NY, 17 May 2014
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, 14 March 2014
Caribbean Cultural Theatre, Medgar Evers College, 26 October 2013
Nelson Mandela Robben Island Gateway Museum, Cape Town, 24 July 2013
Judah Square Center, Cape Town, 22 July 2013
Yeoville Recreational Center, Johannesburg, 20 July 2013
Katlehong Arts Center, Johannesburg, 19 July 2013
Soweto Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, Johannesburg, 17 July 2013
African Freedom Station, Johannesburg, 16 July 2013
University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, 13 July 2013
Marcus Garvey Community Center, Cape Town, 12 July 2013
Elsies River Library, Cape Town, 11 July 2013
Paddington Arts Center, London, 7 July 2013
Northwestern University, 26 April 2013
University of California-Berkeley, 14 March 2013
Florida International University, 31 January 2012
Festangola 2012, Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, 24 November 2012
Jamaican Film Festival, Frankfurt, Germany, 27 October 2012
Bucknell University 24 October 2012.
New York University, Center for Culture, History, and Media, 28 September 2012
SALISES 50/50 Conference, Kingston, 23 August 2012
AFI Hamptons World Peace Initiative Film Festival, 5 August 2012
Blackstar Film Festival, Philadelphia, 5 August 2012
Jamaica Reggae Film Festival, The Drum, Birmingham U.K., 20 May 2012
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, 30 April 2012
Annual Coral Gardens Commemoration, Montego Bay, Jamaica, 6 April 2012
Princeton University, 28 March 2012
Rutgers University, 26 March 2012
University of Toronto, 16 March 2012
Rootical Vibrations @ Studio K, Amsterdam, February 2012
San Diego Black Film Festival, January 2012
Florida International University, Rootz Productions
Amsterdam, Rootical Vibrations
Scribe Video Center, Philadelphia, December 2011
Hollywood Black Film Festival, October 2011
CUNY Graduate Center, October 2011
Trinidad and Tobago International Film Festival, September/October 2011
Duke University, September 2011
Bob Marley Museum, Kingston, Jamaica (Premiere), June 2011
Caribbean Studies Association Meetings, Curacao, June 2011 (Preview)
Human Rights Film Festival, University of Virginia, April 2011 (Preview)
Yale University, What is Caribbean Studies: Prisms, Paradigms, Practices, April2011 (Preview)
University of Pennsylvania, September 2010 (Preview)
Haverford College, September 2010 (Preview)
University of the West Indies, Rastafari Studies Conference, August 2010 (Preview)
- Directed by Deborah A. Thomas and John L. Jackson, Jr.
- Produced by John L. Jackson, Jr., Deborah A. Thomas, Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn, Junior "Ista J" Manning
- Camera Operators:
Deborah A. Thomas
Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn
John L. Jackson, Jr.
Philip "Ambokele" Henry
Alvin "Muggy" Davis
- John L. Jackson, Jr.
- Carol Narcisse
- Philip "Ambokele" Henry (portrait of Rudolph Franklin)
- Sound Engineers:
- Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn and Alain VanAchte
- Musical Composition/Direction:
- Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn
- Additional Compositions:
- Thomas Brett, Bongi Duma, Horace James
- Akete, Grant Braddock, Thomas Brett, Lindewe Dlamini, Horace James, Jordan, Thulu Mabena, David Ondrick, Sanga of the Valley, Abbashani Wedderburn, Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn
- Bongi Duma, Trejah Ethiopia, Philip "Ambokele" Henry, Horace James, Kheswa, Ras Menelik, Derrick Passley, Carl "Rev" Richards, Clyde Wedderburn
- Musical Compositions:
"Hard Times Ska"
"Here Comes the Rastaman"
"Take I Home"
"The Elders Song," written and performed by Queen Takiyah
"Babylon," written and performed by Uzalo
"Zion Calling," written and performed by Uzalo
"Dry Bones Dub"
- Audio mixed and recorded at AV Studios, Brooklyn, New York
- Archival Footage:
The National Library of Jamaica
The Jamaica Gleaner Co., Ltd.
University of Pennsylvania, Film Archives
- Distribution and Marketing Consultant:
- Emiel Martens, Caribbean Creativity
- Special Thanks:
Dierdre Hart Chang
Michael X. Delli Carpini
Honor Ford Smith
Lord Anthony Gifford
Robert A. Hill
Ras Iyah V
Ras Jahnoi M. Jaja
Brother Roy McPherson
Bongo Jerry Small
Brother "Kiddie" Thompson
D. Alissa Trotz
Eddie "First Man" Wray
The Pitfour Nyabinghi Centre
The Rastafari Coral Gardens Committee
- The Annenberg School for Communication and the Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
- Distributed by Third World Newsreel
- Extra Special Thanks to:
- All the elders who went through the struggle and were willing to recount their experiences.
- In Memorium:
- Junior "Ista J" Manning, without whose vision and hard work this project would not have been realized, and who worked tirelessly to ensure the continued growth of the worldwide community of Rastafari.
Deborah A. Thomas
Producer and Co-Director
Thomas is Professor and Chair of the Graduate Group in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica, Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica , and co-editor of the volume Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness . Prior to her life as an academic, she was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women.
John L. Jackson, Jr.
Producer and Co-Director
Jackson is Richard Perry University Professor of Communication and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. He has produced several fiction and non-fiction films, features and shorts. He is the author of Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America, Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity, and Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness.
Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn
Producer and Music Director
Wedderburn is an accomplished percussionist who has performed and recorded with a variety of well-known reggae artistes, and who has also composed percussive scores for dance. His own percussion group, Ancient Vibrations, presents traditional Afro-Jamaican rhythms and chants, the roots of reggae music. Wedderburn has played with The Lion King on Broadway since it began development in 1997.
Junior "Ista J" Manning
Prior to his death in March 2010, Manning, a Rastafarian from Trelawny who was based in Montego Bay, organized the annual Coral Gardens Commemoration and was leader of the Ethio-Africa Diaspora Union Millennium Council. Manning was also a member of the Reparations Commission that was appointed by the Jamaican government in March 2009.
About Coral Gardens
--- under construction ---
The Price of Memory -
A film by Karen Marks Mafundikwa
About the Soundtrack
I am Jahnoi Plonteh, given slave name is Stephen McDonald.
I was born in Friendship District, Bunkers Hill P.O. Trelawny. Jamaica W.I. Feb 16 1938.
I grew up doing the normal things young boys do: playing marbles, backyard cricket, shooting birds, picking fruits, carrying water, swimming in the springs and rivers and carrying wood and ground provisions for very long distances.
I was born a weakling. I walked at 7 months, so my poor structure was not fully prepared for strenuous physical activity, but my mind was sharp and intuitive. I was rescued when I won a free scholarship from Hampden Estates to attend Cornwall College in 1951.
Doing PE was a strenuous exercise until one day I felt my sports-master sitting on my shoulders! My entire being crumbled under the weight, producing pain and laughter. I was alive. I could do sports other boys took for granted.
I left Jamaica in 1963 having worked 7 years in the public service from the colonial period to independence in 1962 to attend Howard University and later University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to study psychology. I did my internship in clinical psychology at the Wisconsin State and Social Services, in the boys’ medium and maximum penal institutions – Plymouth, Fox Lake, and Taycheedam.
I entered the United States in the midst of the Civil Rights/ Black Power Movements. It was a period of cultural renewal mixed with racial repression, political turmoil and assassinations. A time of the ‘hippies’, the Vietnam and Korean wars and counter cultural expressions. I, young, black, qualified, culturally divergent in my thinking, was perceived as an unconventional, a revolutionary with ‘threatening’ black-power sentiments.
There were two assassination attempts on my life. I decided to return to Jamaica in 1972, not without social and political discrimination, including being placed without trial in the ‘Bellevue Mental’ institution, drugged with mind-traumatic drugs (sodium amythal), charged as a lunatic and typical psychotic because I professed to be a psychologist and was not. I was later imprisoned in the St. Catherine District Prison for so – called rioting, sedition and corrupting the morals of the youth.
I have no formal practice in Jamaica. The community is my office and the people my laboratory. We share experiences and counsel each other. For the past 35 years, I have been a volunteer community service worker developing, managing and pioneering projects. The most exceptional is “Triple Eye Inc”. based in Wakefield, Trelawny, which unfortunately was burnt down in 1987.
This pioneering effort with local youths learning management skills producing natural foods, wines, sports, summer school cultural arts and a healthy lifestyle has been copied elsewhere.
My experience has produced many significant manuscripts, personality studies, commentaries and theoretical ideas which will be published soon. My life is my story; my goal my liberation.
August 18, 2008
Bunkers Hill P.O.
Sir Kenneth Hall
Governor General of Jamaica
Dear Governor General,
I write to you as a Rastaman, and a loyal Jamaican citizen who is conscientious about the fate of our African ancestors who were brought to this country in chains and turned I to chattel slavery-loosing name, country and language-many languishing in painful misery; others living in wealth and privilege… In your emancipation message, you spoke of the urgency to legislate A Bill of Rights for Jamaicans to exercise real freedom. Our country has Indeed, arrived at a critical socio-political crossroads seeking clear answers to questions that no one seems brave enough to tackle. In my humble opinion, A Bill of Rights is merely the tip of the iceberg surfacing under the menacing underbelly, confounding our insincerity about genuine constitutional reform-lack of social advocacy for the majority-where battered communities feel the pangs of deathly despair… Where we sit at the lowest rung of the socio-political, economic ladder; our vote remains meaningless; our voices, muzzled, in spite of verbal rhetoric by most of our leaders. In effect, we do not see where the office of the Governor General validates our cause; has valued significance to our goals and expectations; where our custodies and Justices of the Peace perform similar, ritual ceremonial roles with symbolic authority only.
February 3, 2010
Bunker’s Hill P.O.
TAME YOUNG LIONS
Revisiting Rastafari: A Psycho-Cultural Analysis; From Group Delusion to Political Architects
It was 1981; the 1980 elections had come and gone. Michael Manley had just lost a vital mandate with the Jamaican people- a cultural euphoria that lasted eight years. The people wanted much more than could be given; they refused much more that could have been made available; to ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’ not consume more of what you import... The question of altruistic political governance still hung in the air after Manley’s defeat; the theme of credible leadership had taken its toll; brutal tribal politics even in the presence of a growing Rastafari consciousness still held sway sixteen years after His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1 meteoric visit to Jamaica and the Caribbean…[The] point was very clear; it was time for Rasta to create its own literature, define its own program, and outline its way forward. Rasta should not depend on others to clarify and emphasize what it already knows and what it already possesses. Rastafari must cultivate its own social and political parameters to function, to re-examine its own paradigm of existence, its goals of success.
July 30, 2011
Bunkers Hill P.O.
Letters of Public interest: The Rastafari Speaks His Mind
Throughout my entire life I have always been sensitive, perhaps too sensitive for my own good. Growing up I did not like to see my friends or anyone else poke fun or jokes of other people however unfortunate or ‘abnormal’ the situation may be because it could have easily been me…. I tried also to speak the truth whatever the consequence and most times the consequence took its toll but I felt better for because it did not lie on my conscience…It is this consequence that has followed all my life as you will notice in the letter to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; the various letters to the University of the West Indies [UWI] Mona and other state agencies that involved public officials which have gone either unanswered, rejected or the position cancelled… The hard fact is the intellectuals of the world and people sitting on the ladder of power do not like to hear the truth and history has shown that messengers carrying bad news are often killed simple because bad news often had some semblance of truth or the truth itself… I was railroaded into Bellevue Mental Hospital and used as a guinea pig as the typical psychotic because I was posing as a psychologist while I was not; and months later in a kangaroo Court sent to St. Catherine District Prison for 7- months for sedition against the Jamaica Government and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Heirs and successors in addition to corrupting the morals of the youth for simply speaking the truth… If this compelling need to speak out seems revolutionary then I am guilty as charged because I always respected the truth even if it was not absolute but it gave me a sense of freedom that my democratic rights as a citizen of the world meant something valuable, something special that should be protected above all else for as the African saying goes: “it takes a village to raise a child” and in extension, a proper foundation to build a nation, and in this respect I think I was nurtured to be a nation builder no matter what level of community life it may be, no matter what hardship it might bring.
June 10, 2012
Bunker’s Hill P.O.
The Office of the Contractor General (OCG), and Dr. Omar Davis.
On TVJ’s All Angles, with host Dionne Jackson-Miller, and panelists: Dr. Omar Davis, Dr. Omar Davis, Dr. Christopher Tufton, Dr. Trevor Munroe and Desmond Henry, the discussion demonstrated clearly that politicians never change course but only obscure the process and deny the inevitable. They ignore the fact that tribal politics is about triple down corruption in and outside of parliament and the abuse of electoral authority to control power. It is a two-card game that is subtle in devious ways….. Government which is identical with parliament uses legal subterfuge to deface the process of justice and good governance… Tribal politics or two-party dictatorship is a syndrome of cartelization and mental garrison behavior… This root and twin-evil factor lies at the heart of the Westminster delusion the binds parliament and Cabinet in unholy wedlock of deceit and distortion- in a negative-reinforcing, loyalist display pattern that hides the truth and diminishes cultural confidence. This conflict of interest cycle and contradiction of purpose in British democracy which the English experimented with for over 1000 years without success boils over into the symptomatic dysfunctions we experience at all levels of social life.
Bongo Jerry Small
BAD FRIDAY IN AFRICA: ROOTS, RIGHTS, REPARATIONS
In July 2013, during the 50th anniversary year of the Coral Gardens “incident,” we received funding from a variety of agencies to support travel to South Africa in order to screen Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens. Our aim was to provide a forum for communities in the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa who have been struggling with the continuation of forms of colonial violence during the post-colonial period to learn from each other about these experiences, and about some of the ways we are addressing them. We also wanted to use expressive cultural forms and ethnographic methods to facilitate political linkages among and between these communities and organizations working through the languages of social justice and human rights to counter these legacies.
We traveled with a delegation of nineteen people that included the three filmmakers (Deborah Thomas, John L. Jackson, Jr., and Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn), seven musicians who make up the percussion group ANCIENT VIBRATIONS (directed by Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn), three graduate students from the Departments of Anthropology, Africana Studies, and the Graduate School of Education, three undergraduate students from the Departments of Anthropology and Communications, and one representative of the Rastafari Coral Gardens Committee (based in western Jamaica).
We began our tour with a screening in London at the Paddington Arts Centre, a center for diasporic Jamaican arts, education, and culture. From there, we traveled to South Africa, where our itinerary had been organized by Kurt Orderson, a South African filmmaker and a Rastafarian himself. We screened the documentary in ten venues across Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Knysna. These venues were primarily community-based spaces of political, cultural, and educational activism, including the Elsies River Library, the Afrikan Freedom Station, Soweto’s Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, the Katlehong Arts Center in Katlehong Township, and the Yeoville Recreational Centre. We also screened at two centers of Rastafari activity (the Marcus Garvey Community Centre in Cape Town and Judah Square in Knysna), and on university campuses (University of the Western Cape, Witwatersrand University, and University of Cape Town). We ended the tour with a screening at the Robben Island Nelson Mandela Gateway Museum.
Preceding several of the screenings, two of our graduate students conducted media ethnography workshops. These two students also documented the tour on film, and an additional graduate student blogged about our experiences and the discussions that were being generated as we moved from place to place. The undergraduate students assisted in documentation, and wrote fieldnotes daily. A short performance by Ancient Vibrations opened each screening, and in all locations we conducted post-screening discussions in which the filmmakers and community members participated. These discussions served as a platform for us all to elaborate the historical and contemporary similarities between post-colonial Jamaica (and the Caribbean more generally) and post-apartheid South Africa.