“My blackness comes out from my soul, out to colour my skin” (taken from the first line of the first poem written by Sis. Ijahnya)
Sis Ijahnya Christian, a tireless worker in the Army of RasTafari, a battlefield soldier, a steadfast Ingel, a royal Aeitiopian dawta, a brilliant orator, and an uncompromising voice for African Liberation.
As I write these few words in her honor, I am reminded of her vast and frequent undertakings in representation of the global Rastafari family. Some years ago, I n I reasoned about her visiting the Washington, DC area to do some works. The exchange caused a good laugh when many of the dates I selected were not possible due to her prior travel plans. Her response to one potential date was, “that won’t work either as I will be in Uganda”. I n I eventually let Their Ivine Majesties guide the journey and she came forward in the right timing.
Sis. Ijahnya was born Carol Patricia Rey in The Valley, Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, British West Indies on January 1, 1957. She once shared with I, her early days in the Rastafari Movement. She noted that the route to school took her past the house of a Rasta man and that she would often stop and ask questions until one day she was given a book to read and it was life changing. She attended UWI Mona, JA where she received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 1984 and the University of South Hampton, South Hampton England where she received her master’s degree in Education, 1991.
After returning to Anguilla, Sis. Ijahna founded the Athlyi Rogers Study Centre. The center, named after the Anguillian writer, Robert Athlyi Rogers who wrote the Holy Piby, and was her family Ancestor. To further her aim of increasing both popular and scholarly attention on Anguillian identity and history, she served as the first Director of the Department of Youth and Culture from 2004 to 2006; Executive Director of the Anguilla National Trust; as well as a member of many Government committees and agencies in the community.
She established the Triple Crown Culture Yard as a venue for social and cultural expressions and development. In 1993, she published a Dictionary of the Anguillian Language and worked passionately on the positive development of Rastafari in Anguilla and the region. Between 1998 and 2009, she also wrote a regular column for The Anguillian entitled,"Heartically Yours", which discussed cultural and political events on the island.
Sis. Ijahnya is a founding member of Caribbean Rastafari Organization (CRO) and worked collaboratively with the Iniversal Development of RasTafari. After Repatriating to Ethiopia in 2010, she inspired IDOR to utilize some funds earmarked for the Daughter’s Quarters building in Shashemane, Ethiopia for the Matriarks Publication and authored the first publication.
During and after the departure of IDOR’s Elder’s Medical Project (aka, Ancient of Days) Liaison, Rueben Kush, Sis. Ijahnya assisted with the collection and disbursement of resources in Shashemane. She also coordinated with Ras Joseph and sent IDOR reports/communique on issues related to the Nyahbinghi Center in Shashemane. She assisted with the care of and was actively involved in the final rights of Elder Mama Baby I among other elders. There are also multiple projects involving IDOR where she worked independently.
I could write for an eternity and not reach the core of Sis. Ijahnya’s impact on the lives of so many. In closing, I recall the Nyahbinghi chant……. “And if you reach there Ifore I, tell them I am yodding, for when the first trumpet sounds, I must be there”.
Chanting Ises to Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen Asfaw for peace and love for her mother; her children; her grandchildren; her siblings; her loved ones; her many friends; indeed, the global Pan-African, Rastafari, and Anguillan/Caribbean Community who are mourning her loss.
Jah……. Jah…. Jah……Rastafari!
Dr. Wolete Beresford