“… I remember mentally promising Mr. Garvey when I was seventeen years old, that I would call his name every day of my life until his name began to rise again.”
- Mariamne Samad
Sister Samad, as she was affectionately called, spent her life fulfilling this promise she made to Garvey on the occasion of his death in 1940. As a member of the UNIA’S Juveniles, she spent most of her life living up to the ideals of Garveyism.
Though not Jamaican by birth, we claim her as one of our daughters as she made Jamaica her home after settling here in 1976 with her Jamaican husband. Here, she spent most of her time teaching and lecturing youth on Garveyism and Africa. She made her home into an intellectual space which attracted many scholars as well as those who yearned for knowledge on Garvey, Africa and Pan-Africanism. Every last Saturday of the month, she would open her doors to anyone who was seriously interested in learning about Garvey and the Mother country, Africa. In fact, several Garvey scholars benefitted from Sister Samad’s wealth of knowledge and book collection; of note are Tony Martin, Prof. Rupert Lewis and Beverly Hamilton.
Here at Liberty Hall, Sister Samad was highly respected. She was an avid supporter of our events. She would always arrive in her trusted taxi and sit on the bench at the front of the building. Then, as if the bench set the stage for an interview, many persons would alternate sitting with her and have a talk. She always had a story to tell and never shied away from sharing her experiences with anyone she came in contact with. On one historic occasion, she was engaged in a vibrant conversation with Frank Gordon, another UNIA stalwart who predeceased her. The two sat for hours and related stories about being young UNIA members. The pleasant banter uncovered so much history about a time well before many of those listening existed.
However, as the years passed, it became increasingly difficult for Sister Samad to attend functions at Liberty Hall. So, we saw her less and less. However, in 2014, at one of her last appearances here, she, along with Dr. Simon Clarke, were interviewed by Mr. Arnold Bertram as they were both former members of the UNIA’S Juveniles. They spoke of how the U.N.I.A impacted their lives, with each of them giving stirring accounts of their experiences as young people within the organization. They took the audience back to the time when the U.N.I.A was a vibrant organization and their parents active members.
Liberty Hall has benefitted significantly from this relationship. Besides books and other material to enhance our Library collection, all of us at Liberty Hall have learnt a great deal from this phenomenal woman.
Sister Samad received many accolades for her work as a practising Garveyite. Two of the many, are she being bestowed with the title of Queen Mother in Ghana in the 1970s. Then later, in 1999, she was installed as Queen Mother here in Jamaica.
We lost a valiant soldier on the afternoon of September 5, 2019. Sister Mariamne Samad, devoted Garveyite, transitioned to the realm of her ancestors after living a full life for 97 years.