Ras Mortimer Planno/Bro Kummie

Ras Mortimer Planno/Bro Kummie

Ras Mortimer Planno was born in the King’s Town (Kingston) on September 6 1920. He was one of the foundation members of the Kingston Rastafari encampment on the “Dungle”.

His devoted studies on all matters relating to the faith in combination with his intellectual brilliance established Ras Morti or Bro.Kummie as he is affectionately known as one of the most distinguished elders of the movement.

After the construction of Government housing he became a tenant on fifth Street in Trench Town. He was consulted on all matters of extreme importance to the community in which he lived and this situation remains the same until this day.

Ras Mortimer Planno is the type of person anyone will listen to, he is a community elder who anyone would respect for what he stood for in the Rastafari faith. He is an excellent communicator and is able to tell what’s going on in Africa and the rest of the world.

He is a Psychologist, great reader, author of many texts, journals, songs and poetry, he is also a playwright and a brilliant actor himself, an artist or thoughtist as he would put it. He writes a lot as he daily receives correspondence from all over the world.

Ras Kummie grew up in the Ghetto as what the system would describe as a “bad boy”, not in the sense of doing wrong, but in such communities one had to be tough to survive.

He was an executive member of The Ethiopian World Federation Inc. Local 37 at Salt lane on the “Dungle”. The Rastafari Movement experienced harsh persecution from the system in the early days, and because of this, Mortimo along with other bretheren from other “Houses” approached the University College of West Indies (as it was then known) with the intention of getting them to carry out a survey of the Rastafari Movement in order to establish a better relationship with the Government of Jamaica and also understand “The Repatriation process”.

The report was done in 1959 after Professor Arthur Lewis the then chancellor of the University sent a delegation amongst the bretheren to find out what the Rastafari bretheren really needed. The report was a success and gave birth to the 1961 Fact Finding Mission of which a ten man delegation was sent to Africa.

Ras Mortimo “Kummie” Planno and the rest of the delegation visited Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Ethiopia and other African countries. He returned to Africa in 1972 and 1979. He went to Canada in 1973, 1975 and early 1980.

He went twice to London.

In 1966 when His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie 1st visited Jamaica Ras Mortimo Planno was honored to be paged by H.I.M. at the airport on the plane steps to ask the large crowd surrounding the steps to give way so that H.I.M. can disembark, which of course was a difficult task. Planno however did it with ease after shaking hands with H.I.M.

When Mortimo visited Ethiopia he was told by the Emperor Haile Selassie 1st that the Rastafari bretheren need to Organize and Centralize the Movement.

Ras Planno shook hands with H.I.M. on April 21st 1961 and again on April 21st, 1966 five years to the date, this shows some significance.

Mortimo was instrumental along with Danny Simms and Skill Cole in the early rise and success of Bob Marley and the Wailers. He also wrote quite a few songs for them such as “This Train”, “Payaaka”, “Chances Are”, “Haile Selassie is the Chapel”, others including “Sattamassagana”.

These top two videos, possibly the first ever videotaping of the Rastafari, were filmed August 5th, 1969 in the shanty that housed the Ethiopian World Federation Local 37 in Salt Lane, Kingston, Jamaica. Lambros Comitas, an anthropology professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, taped these events at the request and invitation of Mortimo Planno, a powerful and striking figure. Kumi, as known by his friends, played a pivotal role in the public unfolding of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica. He also played a critically important part in initiating the politically potent study of that movement. As part of his lifelong dedication to the movement, he participated as a Rastafarian member in the historic Government Mission to Africa, a mission sent to explore the possibilities of repatriation. These films contain Rastafarian rites and an Amharic lesson.