Insight into Rastafarian movement


THERE are black people who wear long twisted hair called dreadlocks with a full beard.
Such people are almost always thought to be Rastafarians, and many of them profess to be.
This is, however, not always the case.
If a black person lets his or her kinky hair grow without combing it, the hair curls and entangles owing to the uniquely flat hair follicles of blacks.
Before the advent of Ras Tafari Makonnen, blacks in antiquity naturally wore locks.
The ancient Hebrews, Elamites (Persians), Arabians, Egyptians, Sabaeans, black Indians and indigenous Americans (Mayans) often kept their hair in the form of locks.
The central Hindu figure named Shiva (Sambo) is depicted with long locks, so was Kukulcan the dragon sage (Quetzalcoatl) of Mesoamerica.
Likewise, almost every Buddha, including Gautama, Bodhidharma, Nagarjuna and Maitreya (Milefo), is depicted with locks of varying lengths.
The locks prove that these people were black.
In the late 19th Century, West African sages, Cheikh Bamba and Baye Fall together with their followers, wore long and matted locks.
In Zimbabwe, traditional healers (n’anga) often wore locks which were called mhotsi.
Admittedly, since the time of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, blacks with locks have been associated with Ras Tafari, even to the extent of the locks themselves being called Rasta.
The Rastafari movement began after the ministry of Marcus Hosea Garvey.
A black Jamaican who was first in raising the blacks, the world over, to the knowledge of their glorious past in antiquity. His work was undertaken in the US shortly after slavery was abolished.
He successfully pioneered the black pride movement and in the US alone, Garveyites numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
Garvey urged blacks to return to Africa, if not physically, then mentally and culturally.
This entailed breaking away from the whiteman’s culture and religion.
Affectionately called black Moses, Garvey used history and scripture to prove that the blacks of the West underwent the foretold scattering and captivity that the children of Israel were to suffer in books like Deuteronomy 28:64.
He quoted Isaiah 18 which stated that a Davidic king will deliver them from Africa, beyond the rivers of Ethiopia (Nile).
When Ras Tafari got crowned in the 1930s, this was seen as a prophecy partly fulfilled.
He was from a lineage which descended from Menyelek, the son of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and Solomon, the King of Israel.
To Jamaican Garveyites, this was evidence that Israelites were black and that the formerly enslaved blacks were indeed the lost tribes of Israel.
Garvey had also taught his followers to follow the culture of Ethiopia because it was the only black kingdom which remained independent at a time when all others were being colonised by whites.
Garvey adopted the Ethiopian colours of red, gold and green for his organisation.
With the exclusion of gold and the addition of the black colour, Garvey also produced the red, black and green pan-African flag.
He requested for his body to be wrapped posthumously with the Ethiopian colours. All this culminated in the Garveyites inevitably regarding Ethiopia as a source of black pride.
Within the Hebrew community of Ethiopia was an ancient creed called Nazarene (Nazare).
According to Numbers Six it involves taking a vow of separation for the service of God.
It is a voluntary priesthood with strict restrictions on cutting of hair, consuming alcohol, grape juice, grapes, raisins, vinegar and making contact with corpses.
Nasserites would sacramentally anoint their heads with oil containing cannabis and thus yielding meditative and healing qualities.
Moses, along with priests, like Aaron and Zadok, kings like David and Solomon as well as Nasserites like Samson, Samuel, Christ and his disciples from Nazareth, regularly anointed themselves with this oil of gladness.
A Jamaican elder called Emanuel I visited Ethiopia, met the Emperor and witnessed the Ethiopian Nasserite order firsthand. He adopted many things from Ethiopia to pioneer priestly orders like the Bobo Shanti in Jamaica.
He studied traditional Ethiopian music and returned with some instruments, particularly drums, to form Nyayabingi, the Rastafarian music of deliverance.
Rastafarians also began wearing Ethiopian gowns and turbans.
However, Ethiopian Orthodox Church doctrines that stretched back to controversial conferences like Nicaea under Constantine were also absorbed by the Rastafarians.
These include the trinity doctrine and the observance of Easter and Lent.
Ras Tafari’s coronation name of Haile Selassie means power of the trinity.
This was testament to the great extent to which Christianity had converted this originally Solomonic kingdom.
Rastafarians would also setup their own trinity structure comprising Marcus Garvey, Holy Emanuel I and Ras Tafari whom they deemed Jah (God).
In the time of Samuel, who was prenatally made a Nasserite for life by his mother, Israelites begged for a king.
Samuel warned that in so doing, they would be denying God who is the King of Israel. They insisted and God finally agreed to work within the man who would be appointed king.
From thence came the kingship of Saul then David.
Isaiah 18 addresses the Messianic African king as God. It is from these sentiments that Rastafarians consider the King of Israel God.
Unfortunately, the prophecy pertained to Mount Zion, a place further south from the Nile region which is also home to a Davidic lineage namely VaRemba or VaMwenye (foreigners) who are original Hebrews like the Falasha.
Enlightened Jamaican Rastafarians, like the South African-based Honourable Priest Advar refer to Zimbabwe as Ophir and Mount Zion and the Great Zimbabwe as the monument written about in Isaiah 19:19.
However, this phenomenon of Western blacks returning to Africa or uncharacteristically becoming cultured in an African fashion that is associated with locks, drums, herbs (cannabis), pan-Africanist ideology and immense race pride would not have taken place had it not been for a look-east orientation centred on Ras Tafari and Ethiopia.
But as for Rastafarian Africans, the cards were not dealt in like manner.
Africans remember their ancestors and tribes. In Zimbabwe these are conveniently identified by way of respective totems.
Why would one then forgo the remembrance and reverence of his ancestors and adopt those of others?
Some African Rastafarians are of royal blood but opt to glorify Ras Tafari instead of their God, nation and ancestors.
I am constantly mistaken for a Rastafarian on account of my name (Jama), natural locks, vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol consumption and/or occasional wearing of clothes with Ethiopic colours.
But let us call a spade a spade; Jama was my great grandfather’s name and only coincidentally sounds Jamaican.
I am Remba and only allowed to eat clean animals that have been slaughtered lawfully (kushinjwa), otherwise I only eat plant foods.
My locks are owed to the fact that I have been a Nasserite since 2011 and that also explains my abstinence from drinking.
The red, gold and green colours were adopted by many African nations as flag colours, including Zimbabwe.
Now if I call myself Rastafarian, what then becomes of the glory of my Sabaean (vaShavi) ancestors, tribe and kingdom, who predate Rastafari by many generations?
Zimbabwean Rastafarians even opt to suppress their otherwise eloquent speech and resort to using Jamaican patois which, like pidgin, was a failed attempt by blacks to speak the slave master’s tongue.
‘Wha gwan’ is therefore a corruption of ‘What is going on’.
Eloquent Jamaicans like Marcus Garvey and Peter Tosh would be disappointed to find literate Zimbabweans deliberately murdering the Queen’s language.
Still on the subject of authenticity, there are Rastafarians whose faith is only hair deep.
True Rastafarians are strict adherers of Old Testament biblical law.
They are revolutionaries who study the likes of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Peter Tosh. Yet, in Africa and the West, some supposed Rastafarians consume alcohol and other drugs, eating unclean meat, marrying non-black women and other things that were initially deemed sacrilegious. They pervert the movement by making it seem overly pacifistic and all inclusive instead of pan-African.
The Nasserite vow is strict but voluntary and its duration is entirely up to individual decree.
Many Western blacks take up the Nasserite vow for successive generations with the hope of being repatriated to Africa; at which point their vows would be fulfilled and they may cut their locks, drink alcohol and make animal offerings in celebration.
Rastafarian locks were appropriately named ‘dread’ because the experience of being displaced far-off and yearning to permanently return to Africa is altogether dreadful.


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