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Rastafari Subdivisions

By BBC Team

Bobo Shanti

Bobo Shanti Congress or Ethiopia Black International Congress

  • The Bobo Shanti movement was founded in 1958 in Jamaica, by Prince Emmanuel Charles Edwards, considered by many to be the black Christ.
  • Prince Emmanuel, Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie are regarded as part of a holy trinity. Selassie is regarded as King or God, Garvey is perceived to be a prophet and Emmanuel a High Priest.
  • The group can now be found in the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Trinidad.
  • Bobo Shanti wear brightly coloured turbans and long flowing robes.
  • Women in Bobo Shanti must cover their arms and legs.
  • Bobo Shanti members live apart from society. Their current base is in Bull Bay, Jamaica.
  • They do not accept the laws and principles of Jamaican society.
  • Elements of their daily life reflect Old Testament Jewish Mosaic Law:
    • Honouring the Sabbath, from sundown on Friday.
    • During the Sabbath the use of salt and oil is avoided and no work can be carried out.
    • Special rules for menstruating women.
    • Special group greetings.
  • In the Bobo Shanti community men conduct religious gatherings, and are referred to as Priests.
  • Bobo Shanti fast twice a week and on the first day of every month.
  • The word Bobo means black. Ashanti was the name of an African tribe from Kumasi in Ghana.
  • Bobo Shanti fly their flag in a different way to other Rasta groups. They fly the Red, Gold and Green flag with Red at the top, while other groups fly it the other way up.
  • The Bobo Shanti do smoke marijuana, but not in public, because it is a spiritual rite only to be carried out during periods of worship.
  • The Bobo Shanti movement is concerned with fulfilling Marcus Garvey's 'Back to Africa' campaign, reuniting Africans with their homeland and abandoning contact with Western society. Some Bobo Shanti feel black people should be given monetary rewards for the slavery they have endured.

The Nyahbinghi Order

  • Nyahbinghi is the oldest of all the Rastafarian subgroups.
  • Nyahbinghi attempts to keep the link between Rastafarian faith and African heritage close.
  • The group is named after Queen Nyahbinghi who ruled Uganda in the 19th Century and helped reduce the influence of colonial powers.
  • The name Nyahbinghi is believed to mean 'Death to all Oppressors'.
  • The focus of this group is on the veneration of Haile Selassie, who is regarded by them as the embodiment of God.
  • Ethiopia is very important to the sect who emphasise the repatriation of blacks to Africa.
  • The Nyahbinghi regard water, air and fire as representations of the elements of life. Fire is believed to represent the wrath of Jah pouring down on Babylon.
  • Nyahbinghi eat organic produce only, such as vegetables, fruits, herbs and barks, and avoid the consumption of salt.
  • Nyahbinghi take part in regular Groundations, often called Nyahbinghi Groundations. The word 'groundation' means affirmation of life through earth.
  • The importance of Ethiopia to Nyahbinghi:
    • The flag tends to have the colour green first. The Nyahbinghi flag also features a lion in the centre, reflecting the Lion of Judah - Haile Selassie I.
    • Nyahbinghi observe the Ethiopian Sabbath, Tuesday.
    • Nyahbinghi try to use the Ethiopian language, Amharic.
Also on the web

Twelve Tribes of Israel

  • This group was founded in 1968 in Jamaica by Dr. Vernon Carrington.
  • Carrington is also referred to as 'the Prophet Gad'. This name is used because Carrington claimed that he was the reincarnation of Gad. Gad had been one of the original sons of Israel, and Carrington felt his role was to reunite the Ten Lost Tribes.
  • Carrington is regarded as the angel discussed in Revelation 7:2. "And I saw another angel coming up from the east with the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels to whom God had given the power to damage the earth and the sea."
  • Carrington is central to the movement, although he has a number of 'shepherds' to work beneath him, enabling the development and understanding of the group.
  • Twelve Tribes of Israel is considered the most liberal of the Rastafarian groups.
  • Unlike the Bobo Shanti and the Nyahbinghi, the Twlelve Tribes believes in the salvation not only of blacks but of all races.
  • Members of the Twelve Tribes can practice their religion in church or from their homes.
  • The group believe themselves to be descendants of the Twelve Sons of Israel.
  • The group exists outside Jamaica in places such as the United States of America, New Zealand, Europe and Africa.
Also on the web

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