I have been fortunate and blessed to have met many Wonder Women during my lifetime – indeed I will be introducing lots of them in this series – but rarely have I been moved by anyone as much as I was by KAI DAVIS. She came to my attention when I watched the Ted-X Antigua series. https://www.ted.com/tedx/events/14846
Kai’s is the most amazing story; she represented her country as a dancer at a number of festivals and she made a mark in modeling and pageantry, representing Antigua and winning events such as the Jaycee’s Caribbean Queen Show and the Carnival Queen Show. Internationally, Kai represented Antigua at the Hal Jackson Talented Teen International in New York in 1996 and the 2003 Ms. Universe Pageant in Panama, where she won the Congeniality Award. And then a year later to the surprise and shock of many she turned her back on her glamorous, jet-setting life and joined the Rastafari livity. Kai became an Ambassador for her Faith, particularly in education. A member of the Creek Side Rastafari Community and the Nyahbinghi Theocracy Church of Haile Selassie 1st, she is a founding member of the Nyahbinghi Theocracy Church School which was established in 2005 and registered as a Community Home School in 2011.
Now, it is no secret that I have no truck with religion – any religion. To me it is all a case of ‘My fairytale is better than your fairytale’ and yet I could see the sheer spiritual happiness that shone out from Kai during her talk, which you can watch: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nn9Zjq9mpkI
My mind kept on going back to the part where she heard her heartbeat saying ‘Do good. Do good.’ Days and weeks after watching Kai’s talk her presence stayed with me and I really wanted to meet her in person. And, as is so often the case, the Universe heard my wish and clicked everything into place for me. One Saturday morning I was chatting over coffee with my friend Sally about the Ted-X Talks and I said how I was knocked out by Kai’s story. ‘She’s my cousin,’ Sally said.
Later that afternoon Sally rang me to say that she’d spoken to Kai and she was willing to meet me. And a week later I went along to the Nyahbinghi Theocracy School where Empress Kai was waiting for me in her small, busy,’lived-in’ office.
I can honestly say that I have never met anyone whose serenity and inner beauty are so apparent the moment you are in their company. Her face, totally free of make-up, is not just beautiful, but it radiates warmth, kindness and compassion. And yet, she has had a very upsetting morning and our conversation is constantly interrupted as she takes a stream of phone calls from her Brothers and Sisters about one of their brethren who was awaiting trial on charges of possessing and trafficking marijuana that very day.
Kai patiently explains to me that marijuana is part of the Rastafari sacrament. Their community is constantly harassed and persecuted because of this. The point of this article isn’t to defend the smoking of marijuana or to oppose it but I found it disturbing listening to Kai as she talked of the harassment by the authorities that her Community receives on a daily basis. She tells of raids in the dead of night when women are rudely pulled from their beds without even being allowed the dignity of covering themselves. The Community lives simply and is self-sufficient; it is a humble village and it should be obvious to anyone that they aren’t living from the profits of trafficking. And even I know, because I’ve witnessed it first hand, that police raids would be far more profitable on many of the public beaches rather than through persecuting these people who are doing no harm to anyone.
All through our talk she answers the phone, asks if I mind if she eats her lunch (of course not!) attends to constant queries from other teachers without once losing the thread or getting upset or short-tempered. In fact, she shows no sign of stress at all, although her Brother’s predicament is serious. The Creekside Community is poor; by imprisoning one of them not only does it involve them in fines and legal fees they can’t afford, it also removes an able-bodied worker.
I am totally bewitched by her words and find myself angry and indignant on her behalf. I also find myself envious – yes I have to admit it – envious of her spiritual strength and the degree of peace and serenity she has found but also that she is someone who is totally true to herself.
When the time comes for me to leave she hugs me and for a moment there is a tear in my eye. And now, more than a year later, I still find she is in my thoughts and I try hard to take her words on board and to listen to my heart telling me to do good. Do good.