By JOHN DALY
Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley made a visit to the Big Island of Hawaii to stand in solidarity and lend his support to the protesters standing to “Protect Mauna Kea”from the invasive TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) Project.
On July 28, after headlining local festivals on Maui and Oahu, Damian Marley visited the Big Island and performed a short set of his own songs along with a few of the anthems made famous by his father, Bob Marley. The call-to-arms “Get up Stand up”, “Crazy Baldheads” and “Is This Love” gave special meaning for those gathered at the base of Mauna Kea.
“Hawaii has a very special place in my heart,” Marley said. “It’s one of the first places that ever really embraced my music. The cause we’re here for today is a very important one, to protect indigenous land and indigenous culture. We’re familiar with this kind of struggle where it comes to trying to stand up for our culture and our history.”
Mauna Kea stands out as the tallest mountain in the world from base to peak and holds a sacred place in Hawaii’s cultural history. Right now, Mauna Kea is under threat from a state plan to construct a $1.4 billion telescope at its peak.
After successfully stopping the production in 2014, native Hawaiian elders and citizens from every Hawaiian island once again took up the cause and congregated in the road to prevent construction of the TMT project at the beginning of last month. In the face of military and police force, these non-violent protestors bravely remain resolute as they are now joined by thousands around the world.
Marley compared the struggles of the people of Hawaii with those in Jamaica.
“I recently visited Hawaii where people have come together to protect their sacred land on Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world from base to peak,” he said. “Ironically, while the people in Hawaii are trying to protect their sacred land from allowing the world’s largest telescope (costing $1.4 billion) to be built on top of Mauna Kea, we in Jamaica are trying to protect our nation’s land from bauxite mining companies expanding into Cockpit Country.
“Mining these areas would remove forest cover, block and pollute waterways, displace residents, threaten agricultural livelihoods, compromise air quality and threaten the health and well-being of thousands of Jamaican citizens,” he said. “In the late 1700’s, Maroons who had escaped from plantations used this difficult territory to build communities outside of government control to free themselves of slavery. Please sign the petitions below on Change.Org to support these two important movements. ”