Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley Joins Ongoing Big Island Protest Against Telescope on Mauna Kea

Damian Marley Mauna Kea
Damian Marley Mauna Kea - Courtesy


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.

Damian Marley at Mauna Kea 1

“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.

Damian Mauna Kea Protest - 2
Damian Mauna Kea Protest – Courtesy

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.

Damian Mauna Kea 6
Damian Mauna Kea 6

“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. ”

Damian Mauna Kea - Courtesy
Damian Mauna Kea – Courtesy
“Protect Mauna Kea”echoes with significance for the artist. He graciously recognizes the Hawaiian people as the first to embrace his music and has made countless stops to the state over decades. Additionally, it strikes a chord with him as Jamaica faces a similar fight over protected grounds in Cockpit Country where locals are fighting to preserve the land against mining efforts.
Damian Marley Mauna Kea
Damian Marley Mauna Kea – Courtesy
Please visit the petitions and sign to show your support:
Change Hawaii:  smarturl.it/SIGN_MaunaKea

Also visit both websites for Mauna Kea and Cockpit Country for more information and action.