The Re-evolution of Rastafari
January 20, 2003
By Ras Tyehimba Salandy
"Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better and the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered the most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph"
- Haile Selassie
Rastafari has firmly established itself as a fierce opponent of colonialism by seeking to overturn the vicious legacy left by the European colonialists. Colonialism has had a grave impact on the psyche of today's generation; it is a legacy of brutality, discrimination, corruption and a relentless pursuit of material possessions. Rastafari has sought to overcome this legacy by standing for and upholding the principles of Maat, which is truth, justice, righteousness and balance.
Rastafari stands for universal love, a higher spiritual ideal that is not usually emphasized in the mainstream of Western society. To be a Rastafarian is to be a righteous person, continuously seeking to improve SELF. This process of self discovery is further clarified by the words of a St Lucian Rastafarian who said "The word Rastafari as I understand it means purely, the power that lies within any man which enables him to do anything he wants…. To be a Rastafarian therefore is to be conscious of that divine power, and to be developing one's power potential for achievement... Rastafari becomes therefore a philosophy of life fulfillment".
Rastafari does not seek to conform to the norms of this society, which are steeped in racism, sexism, neo colonialism and injustice. The norm of this society is the relentless pursuit of carnal gratification and one doesn't have to look hard to see where all this alcohol, sacredless sex, and materialistic living is taking us. It is taking our people down a wide road of great karmic consequences. Salvation cannot be found in worldly material possessions, but rather by experiences of divine proportions.
There is a misconception that Rastafarians are against technology and material things. Nothing could be further from the truth and this attempt to misconstrue what Rastafari is about is often as deliberate as it is damaging. What Rastas are against is the misuse of technology and the overemphasis on material possessions, which in fact has caused great decadence of modern society. World powers use their economic and technological advancement to oppress and hold so called third world countries to ransom. With superior military forces they impose themselves on weaker countries and force them to agree or else...
Haile Selassie embodied the stance of Rastafari on the question of material advancement when he declared, "it is important that spiritual advancement keep pace with material advancement." That is to say there must be balance. The higher self must be satisfied just as your lower self must be satisfied, but it is imperative that the higher self control the lower self, as emotions, passions and feelings are good servants but poor masters. In fact, with regards to technology our ancient ancestors (ancient Rastafarians) in Alkebulan (Afrika) were the pioneers of technology, achieving a level of high science that has mystified scientists even in these modern times. These ancient people, like the people of Kemet and Dogon were able to achieve this by adhering to natural law and meditating in order to tap into the source of all consciousness, the infinite plane of all possibilities, Negus Negast*, Neter Neteru*.
Rastafari is about reviving that ancient order, putting spirituality and meaning into one's every thought, word and deed. Every thought, word and deed therefore must reflect reverence, love, and compassion, which is the essence of the Most High, Rastafari. In fact, the only thing that can exist between souls in love (God), all else is an illusion, which is not to say that they don't exist but that they aren't as our worldly senses perceive them to be.
No One Remembers Old Marcus Garvey...
"A people without knowledge of their past is like a tree without roots"
- Marcus Garvey
The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey(1187-1940) is undoubtedly one of the most revolutionary personalities that fought for the rights and upliftment of Afrikan people, at a time in history when Afrikan people all over the world were being severely colonized, brainwashed, oppressed and subjugated. Garvey observed that one of the greatest stumbling blocks was helping his people overcome the emotional trauma and the inferiority complexes, which became so pervasive from the advent of colonialism. Marcus Garvey propagated philosophies of nation hood, self reliance and self pride, instilling hope and a sense of being into a people who had been demoralized, brutalized and dehumanized by centuries of slavery and colonialism.
Rastafarians place heavy emphasis on the teaching of Garvey because he embodied that hope of a brighter future, free from the mental and physical shackles that bound us for centuries. Garvey revived and strengthened that connection to the Mother land Alkebu lan by advocating repatriation (both mental and physical) as the solution to the grave injustices that the Afrikan Diaspora was enduring and are still enduring. Garvey proclaimed boldly " Afrika for Afrikans, those at home and those abroad", seeking to deliver Afrika from the colonial yoke that held it in bondage. Garvey sacrificed and livicated his entire life to the upliftment and development of Afrikan people and thus, ultimately all people. Garvey understood the fundamental importance of black enterprise in developing a people and he worked hard to start businesses all over the world to show that it could be done.
Garvey is inextricably linked to the Rastafari Movement, as the struggle that Garvey went through, fighting against oppression and injustice, is the same struggle that the Rastafarians and indeed all Afrikans face. It is the struggle against the mainly white power structure that continues to uphold this system whereby racism, classism, sexism, poverty and exploitation is the order of the day. Marcus Garvey was a champion of the poor oppressed people across the world, a true Pan African Leader. He stood for and fought for truth and justice and because of this he was a threat to the system. A threat that needed to be stopped. Like many of our ancestors and great heroes the contribution of Garvey has largely been forgotten, except to those who forever will fly the flag of red, green and black in their hearts. We as Rastafarians, as Afrikans, as human beings must not desecrate the memory of Garvey, but rather seek to continue and spread the message of equal rights and justice for all. ONE GOD, ONE AIM, ONE DESTINY Forever.
Rastafari and Race
There are Rastafarian people of all colors, backgrounds and races. Although the Rastafarian Movement is rooted in its Afrikanness , Rastafarianism is not a racist doctrine, it is not promulgating reverse racism. The essence of Rastafari is love, love for all forms of life (creation), which comes in a diverse array of colors, shapes, textures and vibrations. The struggle against racism is linked to the struggle against sexism, it is linked to struggle against colonialism. The struggle of the Rastafari Movement is one against fear, it is one against all forms of imperialistic exploitation and manipulative oppression. The struggle of the Rastafarians is linked to the struggle of the Palestinians; it is linked to the native Americans, to the Aborigines in Australia.
It is the common struggle against oppression and exploitation that links us together as brothers and sisters. It is this sense of revolutionary brotherhood that enabled Fidel Castro to contribute Cuban resources in aid of the Afrikan liberation in the 2nd half of the 20th century. It is this revolutionary brotherhood that enabled Vietnam Leader Ho Chi Minh to sympathize with Garvey and to attend some of his meetings in the USA. It is this revolutionary spirit that has bonded together Rastafarians from diverse races and backgrounds and made Rastafari a powerful catalyst for positive change throughout the world. Rastafari has demonstrated unique abilities in being able to transcend the barriers of race, class, religion, sex and creed.
Even though Rastafari seeks to transcend race, and racial discrimination is not a feature of Rastafari, one must face the reality of this modern world and understand the dynamics of race. This world system is one of gross race and class discrimination where the mainly white power structure controls most of the world's resources, wreaking havoc on everyone who stands in their way. Their policies are aimed at upholding their system, and imposing whatever whims they may have on the so called 'third world countries who are largely non-white.
Haile Selassie I
Look to the East for the crowning of a Black King, he is the redeemer for the days of deliverance are near
- Marcus Garvey
A house built on granite and strong foundations, not even the onslaught of pouring rain, gushing torrents and strong winds will be able to pull down. Some people have written the story of my life representing as truth what in fact derives from ignorance, error or envy; but they cannot shake the truth from its place, even if they attempt to make others believe it.
Haile Selassie I
Ras Tafari known later as Haile Selassie, was born on July 23rd 1892 in Harrar, Ethiopia. For years before his birth chaplains and astrologers had been prophesying his birth. Pluto and Neptune had started moving slowly towards each other in 1399 along the heliocentric line taking 493 years to intersect. They intersected the same time Lij Tafari was born, July 23rd 1892. This was also the first day of the zodiac sign, Leo, an event that would later help to prove his title given at his coronation; The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
It is not my intention to delve deeply into the details of the King's life as other writers had done this adequately. Rather I will deal briefly with a few areas relating directly to the connection between H.I.M Haile Selassie and Rastafari.
All Rastafarians place emphasis on the divinity of Haile Selassie, but what exactly is the nature of this divinity is often hotly debated. Nonetheless, Emperor Haile Selassie I remains one of the greatest symbols of the Rastafari Movement, traveling around the world spreading the message of PEACE, LOVE, UNITY AND AFRIKAN LIBERATION.
When Selassie was coronated in 1930, Ethiopia was the only independent black nation (except Haiti), with everywhere else under the brutal yoke of colonialism. By 1974, a lot of Afrikan countries had gained independence with his Majesty at the forefront of the Pan Africanist liberation movement. The Emperor's life was a powerful testimony of the strength and power of the most High, manifested in flesh. King Haile Selassie is the central figure in the history of modern Ethiopia, for his noble statesmanship, brilliant vision, dauntless courage, enlightened social, educational and political reforms gave him an eminent place in world history and indeed in the hearts of Rastafarians.
With the advent of advanced technology and the popularity of reggae music, people all over the world have knowledge of the King, but often this is of very superficial proportions. The names and titles of his Majesty are of some significance but the essence of Haile Selassie is what he stood for, and the works that he has accomplished, that were in accordance with his divine nature.. People often get so carried away by the titles of his Majesty that they forget what he stood for. Haile Selassie stood for education and higher development. So if one says one is a Rastafarian it must be that one stands for these principles so clearly emphasized by HIM.
The Emperor was very interested in the education of his people from the very beginning. He converted his Royal Palace into a university; know today as the Haile Selassie University. Many educational institutions, commercial technical and agricultural development in the country owe their origin to the initiative and foresight of the emperor.
The focus on Haile Selassie by the Rastafarian Movement is especially important in helping dispel the damaging effects that Michelangelo's uncle also know as the white Jesus Christ has had on the Afrikan people. This myth of the white, blonde, blue-eyed Christ, imposed on people all over the world has had a most damaging effect on the psyche of non-white people and has been just another piece of the white supremacist jigsaw puzzle. Now, it is important to understand the issue of the color of Yahweh Kristos (Jesus the Christ) would usually not have been an issue, had not it been used to further the doctrines of white supremacy and perpetuate the colonial exploitation, not only of Afrika but other regions as well.
All the saviors who have walked this earth have been revolutionaries whose main purpose was to show people how to live life in accordance with the Most High. All people have this divine essence within them and they all have the power to unleash the their true self and become "anointed ones". The whole purpose of this existence and what must be really emphasized as the ultimate mission of Rastafari is to become one with Jah (become God conscious). The message and life of mystics and saviors has been to highlight this divine path towards GOD CONSCIOUSNESS. Christ himself said, "KNOW YE NOT THAT YE ARE GODS" This is the path of authentic Rastafarians. Rastafarians in this time must continue to strive to embody PEACE, WISDOM, FREEDOM, JUSTICE, LOVE AND UNITY, rooted deeply into the rich ancient soil of Alkebulan.
Hail Ras Tafari
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