Leading Rastafarian rights advocate Priest Blyden dies in hospital

Leading Rastafarian rights advocate Priest Blyden dies in hospital
Rastafarian Priest Philip Blyden. (FILE PHOTO)

“He will forever be remembered for uniting all the mansions of Rastafari in one house in The Bahamas”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Priest Philip Blyden, prominent Rastafarian and historical advocate for Rastafari rights in The Bahamas, died in hospital yesterday.

He was 62.

Priest Philip Blyden

The news of the death of Blyden, affectionately known as “Jah B”, has sent shockwaves throughout the Rastafari community.

He was among the leaders to set the foundation for the Pan Africanism and the Rastafari movements in The Bahamas.

Blyden was one of the first voices to demand religious freedom and on marijuana legislation for Rastafari in The Bahamas and was also one of the first Rastas to live at the camp on Fire Trail Road east, which is now the home of the EABIC (Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress) Bahamas Branch.

In a statement on his passing, Copeland “Ras Amen” Smith, executive council of the House Of Rastafari Inter-Mansion Collective, said Blyden will be remembered as “a man of all seasons and of big affairs”.

“The whole community of Rastafari is in shock, with many singing Jah B’s praises,” Smith said.

“He trod through the turbulent ’80s and ’90s, and petitioned Prince Emmanuel Charles Edwards, collaborating on many things taken for granted today.

“Jah B began laying the groundwork from the ’60s and ’70s.”

Smith noted that Blyden was the community’s “de facto leader and guiding light in things temporal, secular and the spiritual interpretation thereof”.

He added that Blyden “will live on through those he met, mentored and motivated” and “will forever be remembered for uniting all the mansions of Rastafari in one house in The Bahamas”.

Blyden was a priest of the EABIC; chairman of the House of Rastafari (HOR) inter-mansion group; as well as an arts, craft and creative design teacher at Akhepran International Academy.

In a Facebook post advising of Blyden’s passing, Akhepran’s principal Rhonda Wright urged that his family be kept in prayer and that he be remembered and commemorated “for the honorable priest that he is and will forever be”.

“He will always be remembered for all of his contributions to Akhepran, our scholars and the community at large,” Wright said.

“May he be welcomed by the ancestors as he makes this transition. We honor his life and memory by celebrating him and his many, many accomplishments.

“His works will forever be etched in our hearts and our minds.”

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