Ethiopia Advocate Ras Seymour Mclean Passes Away


Jamaican-born activist Advocate Ras Seymour Mclean passed away on October 6. 2014. He was a well-known advocate for the return of priceless Ethiopian relics and hundreds of books and manuscripts of Ethiopian history. According to The Voice, there will be a special African-themed funeral service for him on Thursday (November 6) at the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Phillips Square, Battersea, London SW8 3RT starting at 10:00am. Interment will be at Putney Vale Cemetery, Stag Lane, London SW15. Here are excerpts from George Ruddock’s obituary article:

He was also best known an activist for the recognition of land given by Emperor Haile Selassie to Jamaican Rastafari who wished to return to their spiritual home in Shashemane. Ras Seymour McLean was also a regular campaigner who would attend most public events when Jamaican government ministers were visiting the UK pleading for assistance to the Rastafarians who had set up home in Shashemane but were neglected by the Ethiopian government.

[. . .] Seymour Antony Mclean was born in Jamaica on November 6, 1956 and he grew up in Beckford Kraal, Clarendon. He was the third of four brothers and one sister. He spent his formative years in Jamaica where he attended Mount Liberty Primary School. At the age nine he left Jamaica for England with his older brother Ronald to be reunited with his mother in Battersea, south London. [. . .]

Seymour followed in his elder bother’s footsteps into electrical engineering and started work as an apprentice at Clarkes Electrical Constructor. He rapidly worked his way up the ranks and he went on to work at Lloyds of London, the prestigious central London-based specialist insurance organisation. He then moved on to work at Sterling Westminster as a Financial Consultant until 1982.

In 1982, Ras Seymour Mclean came to the Ras Tafari House (temple) in Brixton, south London, at the time of the famine in Ethiopia. After expressing his concerns and reasoning with the elders, he and others were sent to research the best ways to support Ethiopia. A series of fundraising events followed this. His further research led him to spearheading a campaign calling for the return of priceless relics and hundreds of books and manuscripts of Ethiopian history to Ethiopia, which were stolen from the Ethiopian church during the British invasion of the African nation in 1868.

His struggle was chronicled in a 1991 television movie, The Book Liberator, which was based on his trial after he had recovered several of the manuscripts from the British museum – including the Kebra Nagast (Prayer of the Virgin Mary) from the Pankhursts’ museum – an offence for which he spent nine months in prison.

In June 1990, Ras Seymour McLean joined the Ethiopian World Federation Inc and he devoted most of his life to research and repatriation in the true sense of the words, exploring the ancient Ethiopian royal and cultural history. [. . .] Ras Seymour was known globally for the liberation of ancient Ethiopian manuscripts and books looted from Magdala, Ethiopia, in 1868 by the British. His research led him to uncover priceless information about the magdala loot, this has been documented on TV and again Seymour spent significant time campaigning for the stolen relics return.

Through his own business project, Ras Tafari International Consultants, he also retrieved public records detailing the British parliamentary involvement in the looting of Magdala, as well as their interest in, and reports on, the Rastafari Movement in their early days in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Ras Seymour held the offices of President, Vice-President, Sergeant-at-Arms, and Chaplain in the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated.
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