RASTAS WANT COMPENSATION FROM PRODUCTS USING THEIR CULTURE.
By Andrea Downer, published on the Sunday HERALD Jamaica, June 8th, 2003
A group of local Rastafarians are trying to broker a deal with Nestle Jamaica Limited in order to get part of the proceeds from the sale of a Nestle ice cream product, Rasta Ice. The group, the Ethiopian Peace Foundation (EPF) claims that Nestle is using the likeness, image and colours of the Rastafarian religion without their prior consent and that based on the fact that Rasts is being used to promote the product, they should benefit from its sales.
The group has also proposed that Nestle package and sell products made from Rastafarian recipes under the brand and pay roylty to the Foundation.
Jah Lloyd, chairman of the EPF, told the Sunday Herald that the decision to approach Nestle for part proceeds of the sales of the ice cream novelty was fully endorsed by the Foundation, which comprises two representatives of each of the 13 ‘mansions of the Rastafarian faith.” The Nyabinghi Theocracy Reign, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Haile Selassie Theocracy Government are included in the 13.
Jah Lloyd pointed out that there was no jealousy on the part of Rastafarians with regards to their culture being used and adopted internationally. However, he feels that the Rastafarian community should benefit from any monetary gains that are realised from this association.
He noted that when the product was launched some months ago, many Rastafarian brethren voiced disapproval and asked for the product to be withdrawn. He said, however, that the EPF does not want the product to be taken off the market, but rather, that they be compensated for the use of the name and likeness of Rasta.
Astor Black, a member of the Foundation, told the Sunday Herald that the money being requested from Nestle would be used to build an old age home on lands at Scotts Pass in Clarendon. He explained that the home would house ‘ancients who have fallen on hard times and have nowhere to live.” He said that the property was donated to the Rastafarian communit6y by the late Hon. Robert Nesta Marley and is now the headqurarters of the Nyabinghi Theocracy Reign.
Dinesh Mangal, brand manager for Nestle Ice Cream, said he would not comment on the issue and referred the Sunday Herald to Diane Thompson, Nestle’s consumer services mnager, who said she could not comment on the issue without prior authorisation from the company. However, both Jah Lloyd and Astor Black told the Sunday Herald that they have had several meetings and conversations with Mangal on the issue.”
I congratulate Jah Lloyd and EPF, for using this approach for compensation. Knowing full well that Nestle will be unlikely to withdraw its product, let’s ensure that Rasta makes money as well. The success of this effort will open the way for Rastafari to start benefiting from the many, many instances of open exploitation by non-Rasta companies and individuals.