Rastafarians Do Not Say “We” for Plurality
The religious meaning is that a Rastafari is a part of god, at the same time a living man, which is exactly described as an “I” (as the personal pronoun). Because everyone is an “I”, the Rastafari does not say “we” for plurality, but says “I and I”. They often replace some syllables with “I”, like, “eternal” translated into “I-ternal”, “creator” into “I-reator” and “hour” into “I-owa”. The Roman numeric one, which is also I, follows the name of Haile Selassie I, demonstrating the divinity of His Imperial Majesty, Rastafarians believe.
To make this post clear, we suggest several definitions, many of us, marijuana lovers, already know who is Selassie and why the Lion, yet we pack it briefly into this, err, vocabulary:
★ Jah — is the name of God in Rastafarian religion, basically the Abrahamic branch, along with Judaism, Islam and all sects of Christianity. Jesus, Jahvee, Allah, Jah, whatever you call it is still the same “personality” (monoteistic deity) of all Abrahamic religions (or branches).
★ Haile Selassie I — is the last King of Ethiopia, His Imperial Majesty (H.I.M.), the King of Kings, and the central person and the Messiah (second coming of Christ, no less) in the Rastafarian religion. Rastafarians believe he is the direct decendant of biblical King Solomon and Queen of Sheba, therefore a holy person and the deity which they practically worship. And then Ethiopia is Caanan, the promised land.
★ Zion, or Mount Zion — is a biblical place, which Rastfarians have “moved” from Israel to Africa, in their belief. The traditional (christian) definition of heaven has been rejected as a “spiritual place in the sky”, promoting then that the Mount Zion is the “heaven on earth”.
★ Babylon — is every negative aspect of the “western culture”, which Rastafarian religion opposes in the lyrics of ska and reggae, namely: the law enforcement, the government when going mad, sometimes UK, almost always USA, along with specific political leaders including but not limited to Vatican religious authorities, etc, etc.
That’s it, and we continue listing up the rare facts about Rastafarians:
Ska was a pop-version of reggae, called “bluebeat” in England, a mix of jazz and blues, outdated by now and rarely in use, so to say: a precursor of reggea. Developed in 1950-60s as a mild protest against social and political conditions in Jamaica. While sounding happy and content ska rhythmes were about pain and suffering of people of Jamaica under governmental regime, very alike to Reggea but in a softer manner of blues. Ska also introduced Jamaican drumming for the first time, long before the transformation into reggea. Famous ska titles were: “Oh Carolina”, “Another Moses”, “Babylon Gone”.
Female Corruptive Influence
Ska musicians expressed deep personal pain they gain from the political forces, and also (surprise!) the pain from the “corruptive influence of a female”, promoting that the temptation of female flesh eventually leads in general to broken hearts, loneliness and teardrops. Well, this explains a lot the meaning of Bob Marley’s “No woman, no cry”, while being romantic in sound it is practically a desgrace of the female role in a society. Not a popular opinion nowadays. Oops!
There are (at least) two monuments to Judah Lion in Addis Ababa
Historically, the Lion is the symbol of the Judah tribe, and is a symbol of the Rastafarian movement, because biblical King Solomon was of the Judah tribe, which also means that His Imperial Majesty King of Kings Haile Selassie is of the Judah tribe as well. The Lion is depicted in his coat of arms, and there are TWO beautiful monuments to this Lion in Addis Ababa.
One was erected in 1930, on the occasion of coronation of Haile Selassie I:
And another one, comissioned in 1954 by His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I:
Sometimes, the Lion of Judah is called the Lion of Zion. Both are correct more or less.
Some of Rude Boys were Rastafarians
In 1965 in Jamaica the unemployed ghetto youths, 14-25 years old, living in the shanytown of Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica, formed the strong and well-organized rebellion force armed with knives, cutlasses and guns. They became a certain threat to the middle class, looting houses and shops, clashing violently and quite successfully against the law enforcement, living only for “run faster, jump higher, fuck longer” as they claimed. Rude Boys embraced the image of an outlaw hero, and a symbol of new generation opposing to the system which (they suggested) produced the unemployment and poverty in Jamaica. Guess, that for “ruddies” marijuana was not a spirituality.
However, some were pretending to be and claiming they were Rastafarians, adopting the the Rastafarian language, appearance, dreadlocks. Consequently, citizens of Jamaica organically associated Rude Boys to the already existing negatively lunatic image of Rastafari.
Rastafarians in their turn hardly supported any connection to rudies, and denied it simply because they had never encouraged, neither promoted as a valid solution any violent action towards to or suffering for other people in exchange for gaining own liberty. Rastafarians and Rude Boys, both highlighting the identical goals to “fight” povetry and oppression, indeed espoused two radically different ideologies.
Haile Selassie influenced the incorporation of “rudies” into Reggae
While Haile Selassie’s only visit to Jamaica, in 1966, about 100,000 people wer in the airport, it was said, that about only 10,000 of them were Rastafarians, smoking bongs and chanting. The long-awaited Messiah finally arrived on the island. His Imperial Majesty’s mission (among other goals) was to influence the public opinion persuading political leaders of Jamaica that the Rastas could no longer be written off as “dangerous freaks”.
And, at the same exact time, King of Kings has spoken to Rastafarian leaders and proposed a new concept to them — to refuse the idea of physical repatriation to Africa (to the biblical Canaan, the promised land) but replacing it with the idea of political liberation of Jamaica.
Since then — the Rastafarian music, the Reggea, already transforming from Ska to Reggae under influence of R&B, applied to be relatively aggressive and more political. The reggae musicians since then have applied to building the heroic image out of “ruddies” (Rude Boys), demonstrating the virtual alliance between Rude Boys and Rastafarians united from now on against the common enemy, the system that produced unemployment and poverty, the Babylon Evil.
From Ska passive crying Rastafarians slowly switched to Reggea-struggle, the sounds of reggae had changed to the sounds of a society in the process of transformation, religious Rastafarians became also a political power, eventually, promoting rebellion and liberation.
Why Ras Tafari
This is a pretty simple one, no mystics and no magic around. Rastafari worship the King of Kings, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I (of Ethiopia), whose real-world name before being a king was Tafari Makonnen, who was a Duke of Harrar in Ethiopia in his youth as a crown prince, and “Ras” is the word for “Duke” in Ethiopian language. Ras Tafari = Duke Tafari, the ruler of Harrar.
Love is the very idea
The said may call an “agressive image” for the western way of thinking but in reality the Rastarians oppose that western thinking dramatically, they are in reality the silent protesters, and the peaceful rebels, they express their claims and demands exclusively through the music and never mean a violent action. Love and Peace expressing it in asceticism.
We are truly humble people whose response to evil is to flee from itBongo Dizzy says in “Bongo-man”, rastafarian newspaper, 1968
We have to go to Africa to live with our brothers and sisters there. Blacks remember, our King Haile Selassi grant land space for us in EthiopiaRasta Historian, the contributor-writer to “Bongo-man” newspaper, 1968