For those of you who haven’t already heard this is to inform you of the passing of Brother Mortimo “Kumi” Planno, on Sunday March 5th at 22:40 hours at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
Brother Kumi as he was affectionately called, was born in 1929 on the 6th of September in Cuba. He arrived in Jamaica in the early 1930s with his mother (Jamaican), May Parks, father Miguel Planno (a Cuban Tobacconist) and 3 older siblings.
Planno grew up in the West Kingston district and came to national prominence in the early 1950s through his articulate and defiant involvement with the Rastafari Movement, then in its first two decades, as one of if earliest dreadlocked youth leaders. He was a founding member of the Rastafari Movement Association, which held the Ethiopian World Federation Chater 37, and was instrumental in many initiatives including the First Universal Grounation of Rastafari in Back-O-Wall in March 1958; the University ISER – Report of the Rastafari Movement in Kingston Jamaica 1960; the Fact Finding Mission to Africa, 1961; the visit of Emperor Haile Selassie I to Jamaica in 1966; the development and Management of Bob Marley and the Wailers; the repatriation of several families and individuals to Shashamanie Ethiopia throughout the 1960s; the arrival of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica in 1970; the Peace Concert 1978 among other initiatives.
Planno was well known for his intellectual acumen, letters to the press and his famous autobiographical text “The Earth Most Strangest Man: the Rastafarian”. He has toured Africa on three separate occasions visiting a total of 15 countries there and has been invited to give lecture/tours in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
In 1998, the Faculty of Social Sciences made Bro. Kumi its inaugural Folk Philosopher through a one year fellowship where he pursued his autobiographical writings through an attachment to the department of Government. Subsequently Planno became a sinecure attached to the Institute of Caribbean Studies which facilitated his continued work up until the end.
Since 1984 Planno’s health had been compromised by a number of complications (glandular, cardiac, gastric and circulation issues). Increasingly from 2001 after suffering a heart attack Planno has been in and out of hospital, and in July of 2005 his right leg was amputated.
Though Mortimo Planno may be most remembered for his role on the occasion of the Emperor Haile Selassie I’s visit to Jamaica when he restored order to a state where protocol has disappeared, he is perhaps most of all the archetype of a Rastafari ecumenical leader and operated in this manner for some forty odd years. His command was one with words, and when he opened his mouth all were forced to recognise his power.
For some fifty years Mortimo Planno has been one of the key Rastafari figures on the battle field. He leaves behind four children and a younger Brother Barry. Today we ask that his memory be honoured in your thoughts and prayers.
May his soul find rest and comfort with Jah.
Rastafari Liveth…One Perfect Love