I was scrolling on Facebook when I came across a picture of a coworker in her elementary days in a school uniform I instantly recognized. Oh yes! That was the uniform I had been wearing for 8 years of my life. A uniform that I would never forget. That uniform had a meaning. Red was for the bloodshed, black for the people and green for the land. The Garvey Institute was the name of my elementary school.

This picture opened a flood of memories from the days that made me who I am today. Though this school no longer exists what it instilled within us definitely lives. It thought me discipline. It thought me that this world was not going to be easy. They let me understand that we were going to face trials and temptations in this life that we were to live and it definitely prepared us for it. The Garvey institute thought me who I am and to never forget that.

Every morning for 8 years of my life we had an assembly. Each morning at the assembly we would say our motto, sing South Africa’s national anthem exactly like how it’s sung in the 1st minute of this video , and recite The African Fundamentalism in our own version.

Our motto went something like this:

We are Garvey students
We work together
We play together
We help one another
We do our very very best.
For we are Garvey students
And we are number 1.

At the point where we say we are number 1 we would all have our fingers up in the air signalling we were indeed number one and believing we were. We would also recite this in French as we lived in Quebec,Canada.

Nous sommes les étudiants de l’Institut Garvey
Nous travaillons ensemble
Nous jouons ensemble
Nous nous entraidons
Nous faisons notre meilleur
Nous sommes les étudiants de l’Institut Garvey
Et nous sommes numero un!

I believed this. It built my self-esteem and nobody could tell me otherwise. Nobody made me feel no other way. As a Garvey student we were indeed number 1 no matter what anybody said. We were unique, we were private and we know what we stood for.

Here is what I remember from the African Fundamentalism that we recited every morning:

The time has come for us to forget hero worship
and adoration of others and to start immediately
to emulate heroes of our own. Africa the motherland
has produced many men and women. In war and in
peace who’s luster and bravery outshine our own.
…. (there was much more here if I am not mistaken) …
We must practice one faith one love and one goal!

Little did I know I was reciting an actual something of Marcus Mosiah Garvey. All I knew what I recited every morning stayed with me. It resonated in my head daily and now 14-15 years later it actually is working within me.

Do train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

No matter how far away I am from home, no matter where I find myself to be standing alone as a black woman in this world I will indeed not forget who I am. Let me ask you – do you know who you are?




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