The Government of Antigua and Barbuda expresses its condolences to the family of Ambassador Frank-I Francis, and especially to his daughter Denise, and the members of his Danika on his death early this morning, Monday, December 6, 2021.
Franklyn Francis, known as King Frank-I among the Rastafarian and national communities, has been a fixture in the fields of cultural revival, religious discovery, and superb broadcasting.
King Frank-I has been a friend of Prime Minister Gaston Browne when the Parliamentary Representative of St. John’s City West was still a boy. At that time, King Frank-I and his partner Lumba operated an I-tal restaurant on Lower Bishopgate Street. Youthful Gaston Browne ran errands for the two entrepreneurs and helped cleaning the calabash and coconut utensils, in exchange for which the youthful Point Village resident would be provided with sauce and dread bread for his remuneration.
King Frank-I was also deemed an outstanding intellectual, a Rastafarian elder, and a leader of the sect that endured many threats and discrimination. Yet, he never relented in his determination to find broad acceptance of the Rastafarian faithful.
The drumming and singing that took place by the Rastafarian community on July 31 each year until midnight, the dawn of August 1, at one of the plantations on which ancestors were enslaved and died early deaths, reflects the Rastafari attempt to change minds and to embrace history. He was a sports-caster who could be relied upon to paint pictures with his words during cricket matches. King Frank-I appeared on ZDK each weekday morning with Sly-J, providing analysis and commentary on news events.
Upon the assumption of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) to office in 2014, several steps were taken to give recognition to the Rastafarian faith. King Frank-I was appointed Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to Ethiopia. He was dispatched to Washington, D.C. to address the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council. Embracing the apology of Prime Minister Browne for the discrimination and violence visited upon the Rastafari in years prior. Ambassador Frank-I spoke passionately about the new role for the Rastafari faithful in Antigua and Barbuda, and other Latin American and Caribbean States. He was very well received.
Ambassador King Frank-I was also instrumental in moving the Legislature to decriminalize possession of small quantities of cannabis, and allowing households to plant four cannabis plants in their backyard. He would also be persuasive in encouraging the legalization of medical cannabis in Antigua and Barbuda.
Ambassador King Frank-I was a treasured son of the soil. His passing has left a void in the leadership of the twin-island state, and in the Rastafarian community. May his soul rest in peace with the ancestors.