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Four sevens clash is now long forgotten

BOB’S NOT YOUR UNCLE: July 7, 1977 did not go as Fred Locks’ Black Star Liner had promised

LAST WEEKEND was the 40th anniversary of the four sevens clash. Yet no one remarked on it. No media outlet (to my surprise) mentioned it. It was like no one remembers Old Marcus Garvey.

The date 7/7/77, which many people of African heritage spread throughout the diaspora interpreted as the fulfilment of the prophecy of the Jamaican national hero, the Hon. Marcus Garvey was the original dread version of the Y2K new millennium fear. Remember that?

It was the day when intelligent people like you and I believed that some computer bug which couldn’t deal with the digital change of the century would down aircraft cruising at altitude, have cash machines spewing out billions and send unsuspecting pensioners to the moon who had merely gone to surgery to have the batteries in their pacemakers recharged.

01/01/2000 was expected be the end of civilisation as we know it and bringing the Western world (or Babylon as the rastas see it) to its knees. How many of us refused to fly on that date?

How many of us stood outside bank cashpoint machines expecting to become million- aires on the stroke of midnight only to find out, like Cinderella, that there’s no such thing as a fairy godmother when the clock strikes 12 and, like the Prime Minister says, “there ain’t no such thing as a magic money tree”, like we still believe in fairy tales. Mrs May, don’t patronise us kids. Next you’ll be telling us that there’s no Father Christmas.

But back in 1977, rastas didn’t just believe in Santa Claus, but they also believed in the Black Star Line, Garvey’s fabled vessel company which carried black people home to Africa – all they had to do was wait on the Jamaican shoreline or wherever else they may be and the ship would come and carry them home, and Bob (no, not Marley) would be their uncle. Simple t’ings. Or not, as the case may be.

I cannot tell you how we all waited in vain for something to happen on July 7, 1977. I remember it well. It was a hot day. Just as it was last week. A really hot day. I remember waking up that morning and thinking, this is it, this is it, this is it... I was a young rastaman, and had been prepped through- out the year by reggae artists telling me about when the two sevens or the four sevens would clash.

The group Culture put out a whole album called Two Sevens Clash. And the anthem of the times was Fred Locks’

Black Star Liner: Seven Miles of Black Star Liner

Coming in the harbour I can see them coming
I can see I-drens running I can hear the elders saying
These are the days for which we’ve been praying Marcus Garvey told us

That freedom is a must
He told us that the Black Star Liners
Were coming one day for us...

When you listen to songs like that day after day after day after day, you start believing it is true. You start preparing for the four sevens to clash so that Babylon falls and, as Johnny Clarke would sing: “Move outta Babylon – rastaman.” Like I say, it was just a pipe dream.

Thousands upon thousands of black people gathered on the beaches of Jamaica and elsewhere around the world waiting for the Garvey prophecy to fulfil on that day 40 years ago. Some estimates say as many as a hundred thousand black people packed their bags ready to be repatriated.

Some rastas remained on Hellshire Beach, Bull Bay and on the beaches of the north coast of JA for weeks allowing for a delay in the schedule, refusing to believe that Garvey’s words would not be realised.


Marcus Garvey

One or two of them may still be there on the shoreline, with tears in their eyes as they slowly come to the realisation that even Garvey didn’t have a crystal ball. To give Garvey his dues, he didn’t quite say that he was going to give everyone a free ride on July 7, 1977.

His words were interpreted. So were his prophetic words to the black peoples to look to the East for the coming of a new king. Some of us took it to mean that Haile Selassie was a living God and we turned to the scriptures to find confirmation.

Seek and you shall find, says the proverb, and who am I to argue with that? What I would say is that the more knowledge you have, the better you will know what you are seeking for. If that makes sense.

In a mire of rumour and rumours of rumours and hearsay and hearsay’s hearsays, only a rigorous training of the brain through the intensive workout of the mind that books provide will we ever really know and ultimately find what you are looking for.

Don’t take my word for it, listen to Garvey:

“Never forget that intelligence rules the world and ignorance carries the burden. Therefore, remove yourself as far as possible from ignorance and seek as far as possible to be intelligent.” — Marcus Mosiah Garvey

For, even though the ship didn’t show up when the four sevens clashed and even though we missed the opportunity when the five ones clashed (11/11/2001) we have an opportunity to get on board the Garvey Train (that’s Garvey, not Gravy) on 22/2/2022, when the six twos clash. By then, it should be the Black Star Airways.
See you at the airport.

Dotun Adebayo is Britain’s most listened-to black radio talk show host. He presents ‘Up All Night’ on BBC Radio 5 live Thursdays through Sundays on 909/693 MW. ‘The Sunday Night Special’ on BBC 94.9FM and ‘Reggae Time’ on BBC London 94.9FM on Saturday evenings. Tune in if you’re ranking!

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