Mortimer Planno

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Mortimer St George "Kumi" Planno, (6 September 1929, Cuba – 5 March 2006,[1] Kingston, Jamaica) was a renowned Rastafari elder, drummer, and considered one of the ideological founders of the back-to-Africa movement. He is best known as the Rasta teacher and friend of Bob Marley, and as the man who commanded the respect of a chaotic crowd during the arrival of Emperor Haile Selassie on his visit to Jamaica in 1966. He is referred to by other Rastas as a teacher and a leader within the context of the faith, given his life's work.

Early years[edit]

He was born in Cuba, the youngest of four children. His mother was Jamaican and she took the family back to Jamaica when Planno was still a young boy in the early 1930s. His father was Cuban.

Rastafari activism[edit]

He became a prominent Rastafari teacher in Kingston, Jamaica in the 1950s and helped found the Rastafari Movement Association as well as the Local Charter 37 of the Ethiopian World Federation.

1961 visit to Ethiopia[edit]

In 1961, the Jamaican government decided to send a delegation of both officials and Rastafari leaders to Addis Ababa to meet Emperor Haile Selassie. Rases Planno, Douglas Aiken Mack, and Fillmore Alvaranga were the three in the Rasta delegation. Their Minority Report of the mission differs in several significant aspects from that of the non-Rastafarian delegates,[2] e.g.:

  • 16 April 1961: "Later in the afternoon the Rases were invited to visit His Holiness Abuna Basilios, the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church at his residence. The other delegates came along too. We discussed H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie, being the returned Messiah. His Holiness the Abuna told us at the conclusion of the discussion that the Bible can be interpreted that way. We had tea and honey with him."
  • 21 April 1961: "The Mission was granted audience with H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I at the Imperial Palace, Addis-Ababa. We were introduced to H.I.M., by the Minister of the Imperial Guard. Emperor Haile Selassie I welcomed the delegation warmly. Speaking Amharic which was interpreted by the Minister of the Imperial Guard, H.I.M. told us that he knew the black people of the West and particularly Jamaica were blood brothers to the Ethiopians and he knew that slaves were sent from Ethiopia to Jamaica. He said we should send the right people. The Emperor said Ethiopia was large enough to hold all the people of Afrikan descent living outside Afrika and he would send a delegation to the West Indies. Dr. Leslie told H.I.M. that Jamaica had plenty of sugar cane factories making sugar and rum. H.I.M. replied that in Ethiopia there was a refinery making sugar but not rum. H.I.M. thanked the delegation and presented each of us with a gold medal."
"All the rest of the delegation left His presence except the three Rastafarian Brethren (Bros. Fil, Mack, Planno, as we had presents for H.I.M.). Alvaranga presented H.I.M. with a wood-carved map of Afrika with a portrait of the Emperor on one side of the wooden case. The Emperor then spoke in English for the first time to us. He said, “That’s Afrika. Is it from the Rastafari Brethren?” (That showed that he knew us before). We said “Yes”. Brother Mack presented photographs of the Rastafari Brethren in Jamaica. H.I.M. said again in English, “Photographs; thank you”. Mack also gave H.I.M. a painting of Errol Flynn’s island in Jamaica (i.e. Navy Island, off the mainland of Port Antonio). Brother Planno gave H.I.M. a woven scarf in red, gold and green. H.I.M. said “Is it you that wove it”. He said “Yes”. He said “Thank you again”. We also gave H.I.M. a photograph of a widow and six children—her husband, a Rastafari Brethren, was shot and killed by the Police in Jamaica. H.I.M. asked us to who was taking care of them now. We told H.I.M. that we took the case to Jamaica’s Premier but left the island before it was settled. The Emperor said that he would do what he could to help. We then took leave."


  1. ^ Katz, David (25 April 2006). "Obituary: Mortimer Planno, revered Rastafarian leader". The Independent. London: Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Minority Report of Mission to Afrika April 4, - June 2, 1961

External links[edit]