I grew up loving Bob Marley’s music, its rythm and philosophy. But this piece isn’t about reggae, its about something related, something deeper, I am talking about RASTAFARIANISM. True to human nature, people hate what they dont understand and try to paint ugly what they dont know due to some misconcieved stereotype about them. Though some acclaimed Rasta men haven’t made it easy for others to accept them due to their indulgence in habits that society frowns on. But am sure their are also Christians and Muslims who aren’t any better.
The Birth of the Rasta
The movement or religion if you would call it that started in the slums of Jamaica in the 1930s as a culture of defiance to the the oppressive system of the rich and racial discrimination of the whites on black Jamaicans and Africans. I guess black folks just got tired of the white man making him feel ashamed of his blackness and rich black folks embracing foreign culture at the detriment of their African heritage. The black Jamaican needed an ideal to rally around.
Prior to this time Marcus Garvey – revered by Rastas as a second John the baptist had always preached the Negritude message of love for the black African culture and tried to reawaken the pride in Black, something that centuries of slavery had eroded from the black African. Marcus Garvey is also famous among Rastas for prophesying in 1927 the coming of a black Messiah – “Look to Africa, for there a king shall be crowned”.
Incidentally, three years later Ras Tafari Makonen was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia. His coronation gave him the name Haile Selassie with titles including Elect of God, King of the kings of Ethiopia, Might of the Trinity etc. All pointers to the old Orthodox Ethiopian Church (sorry i didn’t mention that Haile Selassie is believed to be a direct decendant of the royal line of Great King Solomon. Maybe I’d write an article on King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba)
All of these were seen as evidence that Marcus Garveys prophesy had been fulfilled. The Rasta was born and the Rasta men saw Haile Selassie as a god-man, he was revered as the god-sent to deliver the black man from Babylon (oppresive system) to Zion (promised land).
Disappointingly Marcus Garvey never endorsed or saw Selassie as the Messiah he prophesied about, and Selassie cleared the air by saying he was just a mortal man and not divine in any way. But it came too late as a new religion had already been born and the zealous devotees didn’t want to hear otherwise.
To be continued…