A public spat between members of the Rastafarian community and noted political scientist Peter Wickham is continuing, with one outspoken member of the Rastafari movement dismissing Wickham’s recent explanation of the comments he made regarding vaccination.
In fact, Rastafari advocate Paul Simba Rock said Wickham’s latest explanation was nothing more than a “distasteful stereotyping of Rastafari”.
Members of the community had earlier indicated that they were opposed to taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Following this, Wickham, while hosting the radio programme Down to Brass Tacks last week, acknowledged that it was their constitutional right not to take the jab.
However, he said, “If the Rastafarians believe they are better off not taking it then they should stay up in the hills and smoke their herb and stay away from society.”
He suggested that there may come a time when, if they did not take this vaccine, they may have some consequences of not being able to share certain spaces with those who do.
However, after the Rastafarians hit back and Wickham explained his comments, saying they were simply in relation to what some members of the minority group had said earlier, Wickham again sought to clarify his position.
It was while hosting the radio programme again Thursday that Wickham maintained his position, while adding that while he agreed he “spoke loosely”, he was in no way discriminating against the Rastafarian community and was simply referring to what was said earlier by members of the grouping.
However, in a statement sent to Barbados TODAY, Rock said “While Mr Wickham proudly states he does not back down and he defends what he says, my gran would tell him ‘son you cannot be wrong and right at the same time’. It takes a man or woman to admit when they are wrong, learn from the lesson and move on.”
While making reference to Wickham’s sexuality, Rock added “Mr Wickham is no idiot, and he would be well aware that to attack a minority grouping that is often ostracized by ‘normal’ society on matters of human rights, would be equivalent to shooting himself in the foot.
“Therefore the support of Rastafari in essence, by Mr Wickham for the Rastafari community, is not personal by nature but a matter of common sense and agenda,” he added.
Rock made it clear that in his initial comments he indicated that Rastafarians would be willing to separate from the general population should there be an “outbreak” of the COVID-19.
“We are now in that ‘outbreak’ and Rastafari, along with every other Barbadian, is separating themselves from general society as mandated by the government. As Mr Wickham rightly said we must keep our conversations in context,” he said.
Challenging Wickham to look further into the advent of the Rastafari movement, Rock said “Do some research into the Coral Gardens Massacre Mr Wickham, and maybe you can get an understanding of why your comments are overly offensive to the Rastafari community.
“The more you try to justify your ignorance in this issue the worse it becomes. It is not wise to ascribe Rastafari to those who are not and have never professed to be,” said Rock.
He said the Rastafari community was in the process of preparing for a meeting with Prime Minister Mia Mottley in an effort to explore the possibilities of acquiring some COVID organics from Madagascar or even the tonic Cuba is using to strengthen her people while they work on their own vaccine to aid in the fight against the virus.
“This for Rastafari is a plausible option for those who have reservations against taking the ‘Jab’. We do not wish to be made out to be a group of backward people making uninformed decisions. Maybe Mr Wickham and other advocates of this and other vaccines can tell the people of its long-term effects in the absence of the related trials,” he said. (MM)