RBG Street Scholar On Rastafari Culture and Spirituality

The Marcus Garvey’s Statement called Rastafari “Prophecy”
Below is the article many Rastafarians Refer to as the Prohecy by Marcus Garvey. It was Published November 8, 1930 in his Jamaican newspaper, The Blackman:

Last Sunday, a great ceremony took place at Addis Ababa, the capital of Abyssinia. It was the coronation of the new Emperor of Ethiopia — Ras Tafari. From reports and expectations, the scene was one of great splendor, and will long be remembered by those who were present. Several of the leading nations of Europe sent representatives to the coronation, thereby paying their respects to a rising Negro nation that is destined to play a great part in the future history of the world. Abyssinia is the land of the blacks and we are glad to learn that even though Europeans have been trying to impress the Abyssinians that they are not belonging to the Negro Race, they have learned the retort that they are, and they are proud to be so.

Ras Tafari has traveled to Europe and America and is therefore no stranger to European hypocrisy and methods; he, therefore, must be regarded as a kind of a modern Emperor, and from what we understand and know of him, he intends to introduce modern methods and systems into his country. Already he has started to recruit from different sections of the world competent men in different branches of science to help to develop his country to the position that she should occupy among the other nations of the world.

We do hope that Ras Tafari will live long to carry out his wonderful intentions. From what we have heard and what we do know, he is ready and willing to extend the hand of invitation to any Negro who desires to settle in his kingdom. We know of many who are gone to Abyssinia and who have given good report of the great possibilities there, which they are striving to take advantage of.

The Psalmist prophesied that Princes would come out of Egypt and Ethiopia would stretch forth her hands unto God. We have no doubt that the time is now come. Ethiopia is now really stretching forth her hands. This great kingdom of the East has been hidden for many centuries, but gradually she is rising to take a leading place in the world and it is for us of the Negro race to assist in every way to hold up the hand of Emperor Ras Tafari.2

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Rastafari is a movement of Black people who know Africa as the birthplace of Mankind and the throne of Emperor Haile Selassie I — a 20th Century Manifestation of God who has lighted our pathway towards righteousness, and is therefore worthy of reverence.

The Rastafari movement grew out of the darkest depression that the descendants of African slaves in Jamaica have ever lived in — the stink and crumbling shacks of zinc and cardboard that the tattered remnants of humanity built on the rotting garbage of the dreadful Dungle on Kingston’s waterfront. Out of this filth and slime arose a sentiment so pure, so without anger, so full of love, the Philosophy of the Rastafari faith.

Freedom of Spirit, Freedom from Slavery, and Freedom of Africa, was its cry.

Religions always reflect the social and geographical environment out of which they emerge, and Jamaican Rastafarianism is no exception: for example, the use of marijuana as a sacrament and aid to meditation is logical in a country where a particularly strain of ‘herb’ grows freely. Emerging out of the island of Jamaica in the later half of this century, the religious/political movement known as Rastafarianism has gained widespread exposure in the Western world.

Rasta, as it is more commonly called, has its roots in the teachings of Jamaican black nationalist Marcus Garvey, who in the 1930s preached a message of black self empowerment, and initiated the “Back to Africa” movement. Which called for all blacks to return to their ancestral home, and more specifically Ethiopia. He taught self reliance “at home and abroad” and advocated a “back to Africa” consciousness, awakening black pride and denouncing the white man–s eurocentric woldview, colonial indoctrination that caused blacks to feel shame for their African heritage. “Look to Africa”, said Marcus Garvey in 1920, “when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand”. Many thought the prophecy was fulfilled when in 1930, Ras Tafari, was crowned emperor Haile Selassie 1 of Ethiopia and proclaimed “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the conquering lion of the Tribe of Judah”. Haile Selassie claimed to be a direct descendant of King David, the 225th ruler in an unbroken line of Ethiopian Kings from the time of Solomon and Sheba. He and his followers took great pride in being black and wanted to regain the black heritage that was lost by loosing faith and straying from the holy ways.

Rastafarians live a peaceful life, needing little material possessions and devote much time to contemplating the scriptures. They reject the white man’s world, as the new age Babylon of greed and dishonesty. Proud and confident Rastas even though they are humble will stand up for their rights. Rastas let their hair grow natually into dreadlocks, in the image of the lion of Judah. Six out of ten Jamaicans are believed to be Rastafarians or Rastafarian sympathizers. The total following is believed to be over 1000 000 worldwide. 1975 to the present has been the period of the most phenomenal growth for the Rastafarian Movement. This growth is largely attributed to Bob Marley, reggae artist, and the worldwide acceptance of reggae as an avenue of Rastafarian self-expression. Marley became a prophet of Rastafarianism in 1975. The movement spread quickly in the Caribbean and was hugely attractive to the local black youths, many of whom saw it as an extension of their adolescent rebellion from school and parental authority. With it came some undesirable elements, but all true Rastas signify peace and pride and righteousness…Read More


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