Where Is Manley’s ‘Rod Of Correction?’

Hit ’em with the rod of correction

 Hit ’em with the rod of correction

 Hit ’em with the rod of correction

 Lot’s wife turn a pillar of salt

– Clancy Eccles

Symbols are said to be the basis of all human understanding and serve as vehicles of conception for all human knowledge.

They facilitate understanding of the world in which we live, thus serving as the grounds upon which we make judgments.

In this way, people use symbols not only to make sense of the world around them but also to identify and cooperate in society through constitutive rhetoric.

Michael Manley, the late Prime Minister of Jamaica, was the consummate user of symbols to communicate and convey ideas to the Jamaican masses.

In 1972, the PNP’s election campaign was electrified by the eloquent Manley, along with music from some of the top local reggae artists and the symbol of tams, Clark’s footwear, the folding of the fist, and the rod, among others.

The backdrop to this was a period when people felt marginalized, the burning and banning of books, black nationalists being declared persona non grata and forced to leave the country, increased social consciousness, and a high degree of poverty, among other socio-economic-political morass.

Manley’s ‘Rod of Correction’ was the ‘new big thing’ on the political front, and when unveiled, it sent the people into a frenzy.

According to press reports, Manley, as leader of the opposition, had flown to Ethiopia to visit his brother, an employee at the local UN headquarters. 

He seized upon the opportunity to confer with Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, who was considered to be a living god by thousands of Jamaicans known as Rastafarians.

Manley’s move was said to be a calculated one as it was used to boost his popularity at home.

He proposed then that Selassie make a state visit to Jamaica.

The Emperor visited Jamaica in April 1966, arriving at Norman Manley International Airport to a tumultuous welcome by thousands of Jamaicans in general and Rastafarians in particular.

Selassie later presented Manley with one of his white imperial staffs as a gift, later dubbed the ‘Rod of Correction.’ 

This gift was a game changer in the 1972 election as the ‘rod’ was viewed as lending authenticity to Manley’s leadership and moral authority derived from the ‘divine’ Emperor.

Manley used his association with Selassie, the Rastafarians, and the music to full effect, gaining a significant advantage over the JLP-led government at the time.

Manley’s newly acquired staff or rod was no ordinary one to the Jamaican masses, and his sympathizers would sing of its mystical properties.

Such was its appeal that it earned Michael Manley the sobriquet of Joshua, the Biblical prophet who led the children of Israel to the promised land.

Not much is said of the rod today except that it lies dormant in a glass case at the Michael Manley Foundation in Hope Pastures, St. Andrew.

However, given what is happening in the country, now may be as good a time as any to showcase and invoke the rod’s symbol of potency.

After all, the people are still crying out for empowerment, and their disenchantment with the Andrew Holness-led government is gaining momentum.

The Holness administration has yet to be revolutionary in bringing about any significant change in the society, let alone in the life of the man on the street, but as per usual, it’s the one percent who is enjoying the sweet.

Manley’s ‘Rod of Correction’ may be a timely intervention to bring about a change.

Better must come – But can Golding bring it?

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Readers Bureau, Contributor

 Edited by Jesus Chan

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