by Shai Alkebu-Lan, Director and International Spokesperson for the House of the Lions of Judah Ecumenical Rastafari
Soledad – The passing of General Kiilu Nyasha has left a spiritual as well as physical and emotional void among many of her students; however, we, the incarcerated family of General Nyasha, have kept up the fight, although despair continues to cloud our eyes from the prize.
Here’s what one brother from the Central Facility at CTF (Correctional Training Facility) Soledad had to share during my interview with him.
Alkebu-Lan: Why do you feel inmates are “fighting CDCR” (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations) to no avail?
D. Ratliff: The CDCR continues to mislead the public in order to get whatever it is they want at that moment. In front of the cameras, they pretend to care, while using a lot of fancy words … like rehabilitation, honesty, integrity etc. … But in reality they don’t give a “blank” about prisoners. If you’re a rapist or child molester, the CDCR protects you (despite lying to the public about what happens to them in prison), rewards them with special privileges that a regular inmate cannot have.
Alkebu-Lan: What privileges are you referring to?
D. Ratliff: The CDCR fights for their release! Whereas, if you’re in prison for crimes like drug possession, possession of a weapon, assault, etc. … They fight to keep us incarcerated. They fight to take away any hope you have of being a son, father, grandfather or, simply put, “a productive citizen”!
Alkebu-Lan: Hasn’t this been the status quo of the CDCR? I mean, those wielding the power of oppression?
D. Ratliff: If you break a rule and get caught, for another example, the CDCR rushes to write you up, take away your privileges, immediately, depending on the violation, when the rules state a punishment isn’t to start until you have received your final copy of that rule violation.
Alkebu-Lan: What about the new laws like Proposition 57? Are they of any help to us?
D. Ratliff: If there is a law or rule that changes and it’s against the prisoners, it’s made “retroactively” to harm all prisoners, whether or not they were under that law when convicted, and it is activated quickly and expeditiously. Yet if a law or rule is passed to benefit the prisoners, it’s “not retroactive,” or the CDCR refuses to honor the law or put it into existence. Example No. 2, two perfect rules or laws come to mind.
1) Family visiting was reinstated for prisoners including lifers, but the CDCR still refuses to allow some prisoners that opportunity due to things that happened as kids.
2) Prop 57, overwhelmingly passed to help prisoners, in fact, to give them an incentive to program, get help and change their lives. Well, CDCR has only implemented and allowed three strikers to be considered for release after they’ve completed the maximum sentence. Their crime carried without the enhancement or alternative sentence.
3) If a person committed a robbery or assault, and the maximum they would receive was anywhere from four to 15 years, but received 150 years to life under three-strikes, yet under Prop 57, after 14 years he or she could be considered for early release. However, the CDCR continues to defy the will of the citizens of California pursuant to Proposition 57, calling California residents “stupid” and “ignorant of what they’re voting for.”
Alkebu-Lan: I’m sure California residents are very aware of what they’re voting for – contrary to the CDCR’s corruption. Is there anything else you’d like to add, Brother D?
D. Ratliff: I ask the readers this question: “If an individual is given a 50, 75, 150, 200 year to life under the three-strikes law, and all they earn is time credits that account for them to do 66-80 percent of the sentence, why should they change? They shall die in prison.
“The bottom line is prisoners are nothing more than a paycheck to some of the biggest criminals in California. The CDCR is a criminal empire.”
Alkebu-Lan: Off top! The real Gs with the biggest sacks. Thank you, Brother Ratliff.
We ended our interview and came to the conclusion that despite our plight, General-Queen-Goddess-Mother Kiilu Nyasha laid the foundation with her axiom, “Freedom is a constant struggle.” Thus, I pray we all can see that. Dread and alive!
Rastafari services established at CTF-Soledad
On Feb. 26, 2018, the first recognized Rastafari Kemetic Service at Correctional Training Facility (CTF) Soledad on the Central Yard was held.
Rastas Giovanni White and V. “Gangster” Wallace held the official banners of Rastafari Maronen and Marcus Garvey while Ras Jason Smith, a co-founder of the group, opened the services with the following Kemetic verse:
“Those who live today will die tomorrow. / Those who die tomorrow will be born again. / Those who live MAAT will not die.” (Maat is the ancient Kemetic word for justice, order, balance, harmony, righteousness and reciprocity.)
Upon the services being sealed open with the above fire prayer, Ras James Savannah, one of our young brethren, along with Brothers Ford and Elders Oliver, Allen and Martin all gave their respects to the Alebes-Aggot Ayats of other communities at San Quentin, Solano, CMF Vacaville, Centinela, Calipatria and CMC-East and all the communities worldwide. Sister Farika and Empress Tara, along with all the queens, daughters and the Holy Queen Goddess Mother Aset were given their respect as the female principals of Creation.
From that point, the Nyabinghi (spiritual grounds) were blessed and groundation began and was celebrated for the whole month with speakers, meditations, chants and music.
The keynote speech was about returning to and redeeming our Kemetic cultural roots, yet keeping up with current times. Laws, scientific advancements, nature, spirituality and the question of whether it contradicts the ancient established laws of our ancestors, gods and goddesses of our foreparents, and of course, where do we draw the line?
The community determined that when in doubt, “meditate within thy heart, upon they bed, and be still: with the “Maa-ur-n-shetaut Neter,” i.e., the four great truths and Shedy disciplines.
Rastafari holds historic Sunsplash 2018
On Oct. 8, 2018, the House of the Lions of Judah Ecumenical Rastafari Service conducted the first annual CTF-Soledad Sunsplash in Chapel II. It was a great event, which featured great speakers from the Veterans Group, Cemanahuac Group, poets and Brother Conscious, who never ceases to amaze the CTF-Soledad Central Yard with his political, economic, historical analysis of the plight of the oppressed of America and a solution to the problem.
The speakers and guests also pledged to be “Honorary Rastafari” upon giving the chant “Rastafari” upon the call of “Jah!” Yes – I.
The event was capped off by the Director-Founder and international spokesperson sharing with the guests that the community plans to conduct their own investigation into the mysterious death of Professor George G.M. James, author of “Stolen Legacy,” to continue the United Nations mission by Brother Minister Malcolm X with our own proposal, and it was capped off by some roots-rock-reggae by Brother Elson, who entertained the crowd for 15 minutes, and then the program ended.
On a more positive note: Brother Shep received news of going out to court for a possible sentence reduction in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Shai Alkebu-Lan is the director, founder and international spokesperson for the House of the Lions of Judah Ecumenical Rastafari at CTF-Soledad. Dread and alive! You can write and make donations to the group by sending your interests to: Shai Alkebu-Lan, P-02598, DW-229-Low, P.O. Box 689, Soledad, CA 93960-0689.