The Afrocentric Enperience – Rastafari


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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.

Governments should provide reparations to the Rastafari community, says King Frank-I

Governments should provide reparations to the Rastafari community, says King Frank-I

Rastafarian Elder Franklyn “King Frank-I”  Francis said that governments should provide reparations to the Rastafari community for the condemnation by the international community of the rastafarians’ call for the legalisation of cannabis.

He made the comments following his return to Antigua and Barbuda from the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in Jamaica as part of the Regional Commission on Marijuana.

King Frank-I, as he is more commonly known, said that Rastas have often been maligned by the international community for their advocacy of cannabis decriminalisation and legalisation.

He praised the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, for his acknowledgement of the global administrative strategies against the Rastafari.

“He (Prime Minister Browne) has acknowledged that the strategies employed against the Rastafari community, not only here in Antigua, but  around the world, because of their advocacy of the use of the cannabis, were counter-productive.”

He also added that, although the recommendations given by the commission to the various leaders of CARICOM did not go to that extent, he believed that the Rastafari community deserves a percentage of the potentially lucrative industry.

King Frank-I went further by saying that many of the international conventions on drugs and narcotics, which regional countries have signed, have been broken by various countries and states outside the region as it pertains to marijuana.

“One of the concerns or fears of some of these national governments is the international conventions of which they have been signatories, and what our report points out is that these international conventions have their validity in consensus, and since the consensus have been broken by so many countries, it is time to review these international conventions,” he said, adding, “A number of countries [including] the Netherlands, Austria and Portugal, and a number of states in the United States have been going ahead on the premise that this plant is not really a narcotic and is not a dangerous drug.”

He also said that cannabis is used for more than simply a medicinal, sacramental or recreational drug, but also for economic development.

“[There have been] a number of companies, that have been involved in the production from either the medicinal point of view or making other substances;  cannabis is widely utilised in a number of different ways, beside the medicinal usage, [including] textiles, paper production, [and] oils,” he said, adding that “cannabis now gives us the chance to produce not only the primary product but also the secondary and tertiary aspect of the production where the greater value added is derived.”

King Frank-I is a member of the country’s Marijuana Decriminalisation Committee and a member of the Regional Commission on Marijuana, the commission responsible for conducting a rigorous inquiry into the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Caribbean, and to determine whether there should be a change in the current drug classification of marijuana thereby making the drug more accessible for all types of usages, according to its website.

Antigua Apologizes before the OAS for Discrimination Against Rastafarian Community

Antigua Apologizes before the OAS for Discrimination Against Rastafarian Community

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Making an effort to improve relations with the Rastafarian community, the government of Antigua and Barbuda issued an apology before the Organization of American States (OAS) for its decades of discrimination against the religious group. Sir Roland Sanders, the ambassador to the United States and the OAS, addressed the organization’s permanent council to inform the members that Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, apologized to the Rastafarian community and provided information about additional measures the government either has already taken or plans to take to enhance the rights of this minority group in the country.

The report from Sanders meets the requirements of the OAS Inter-American Democratic Charter, which states that all forms of discrimination and intolerance must be eliminated and respect for religious and cultural diversity in the Americas, including the Caribbean region, must be upheld. According to Sanders, implementing the requirement of the Charter to ruminate intolerance and discrimination leads to stronger democracy and participation of citizens in all of the OAS’s 34 active member states. He went on to say the government of Antigua and Barbuda was proud to demonstrate its commitment to the rights of all citizens. Prime Minister Browne agreed to a request from Sanders to be joined by Ambassador Franklyn Francis, a leader in the Rastafarian community, in an address to the Permanent Council on the nation’s actions. When Ambassador Francis, also known as King Frank I, spoke at the OAS meeting, it represented a historic step forward for the Rastafarians, said Sanders.

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Rastafari People Remain African Liberators

LEFT: Baba Ras Marcus, Ras Iyapert and Dejazmatch Iyarge
LEFT: Baba Ras Marcus, Ras Iyapert and Dejazmatch Iyarge


Rastafari People Remain African Liberators

By Ras Marcus
July 09, 2010

It is very important for Rastafari People and African people in general, to acknowledge the fact that when fruits are matured and ripe on the trees, they will no longer stay on the trees, but they will instead fall to the ground and remain there, unless some persons or other living creatures take up those fruits and make use of them by eating them, if those fruits are eatable. Likewise, the leaves do fall off the trees when their work are finished on those trees, and they go back to the earth to mulch the earth and make it fertile.

When our African Patriots, Elders and Liberators and people in general, make the great transition, and their spirits fly away into the atmosphere of this great Universe, leaving their remains behind, we should learn that the real internal power, which was causing the structure to move about, has departed, and therefore, the structure can no more move around on its own, because the living breath of fresh air has departed into the atmosphere.

When we pay respect and tribute to those of our African Liberators who have passed away, it is the good attitudes and self-determination, and good moods in the struggle, for the liberation of African people which we are respecting. I was very fortunate, to have known and worked with most of the more than 100 Elders who have past away over the past 50 or more years, and I am talking about elders who were in the struggle during the middle 50s and before, and Ras Iyapert has also worked with and had known some of them since he came into the struggle in the year 1959.

I do not think that it is too late, to pay tribute to elders like Ras Shadrack, Bongo Wato, Bongo Poorru, Bongo Spence, Mortimer Plano, Ras Derminite, Bongo Iyarney(Tarney) Bongo Johnny, Mama Ina, Mama Daphney, Iyaughta Nellie, Ras Niehmiah, Ras Samuel Brown, Brother Napier, Bongo Skipper, Ras Dasilva, Bongo Titus, Bongo Bigman, Bongo Blackheart, Bongo Author, Bongo Ackee and Sister Ackee, Bongo Bigger, Ras Pidow, Bongo Iyatanya, Ras Iyizzy Iyanny, Ras Iyarussie, Ras Iyacle Iyon, Ras Loydd, and all those so many more named and unnamed, who have made the great transition while fighting for the rights of African people everywhere, including African Liberators in Mama Africa and other parts of this world. I would just like to remember you all and your great liberation works, and pay great tribute and respect to you all for your great courage and self-determination as it relates to liberation for African people everywhere.

There are so many others who have not been named here, with whom I have worked, I am not certain if they are still walking and talking, since some of them were much older than I, and some of them were also younger than I. But whatever may be the case, or where ever their spirits may be, I would also like to pay respect unto them, and thank them for their self-determination and great courage in those early days of the struggle of the Rastafari people’s movement, against Babylon and their slave trading activities, which they practiced against African people everywhere.

Twenty-six and a half Mark Lane, is situated just below East Queen Street, in Kingston Jamaica, West Indies. There is a little shop there which managed to become a very historic place as it relates to the struggles of Black people, for economic survival during the 1970s and 1980s. It became a very historic place, because it was the headquarters of The United Vendors Association where vendors from all over the island of Jamaica would visit on a daily basis to make complaints about any problems which they encountered while doing business – to seek advice on various business matters, to get assistance in the preparation of their traveling documents, to complain about their lost luggage on the planes, to get their United Vendors Identification card with their picture on it, and to seek general solutions, for whatever problems which came about during their active days in business.

Ras Historian was the President of the United Vendors Association and Ras Iyapert (Rupert) was the main advisor and Consultant within the association. Ras Iyapert was also actively helping vendors to acquire their visas to travel abroad by legal consultations, and each time that a vendor became successful in acquiring his or her visa, they shared the information of success with others, and that was also very helpful in making the United Vendors Association successful and larger from day to day.

The Association would have monthly meetings at the Coke Methodist Church, which is just five minutes walk from the Mark Lane Headquarters of the Association since there is a back gate of this church which is also on Mark Lane. At the meetings, Ras Historian (Eric Clement) and Ras Iyapert would preside over the meetings, and would often invite representatives from the Airlines, Chamber of Commerce and others, to hear the complaints of the vendors and to help to find solutions for those problems which were solvable. One Airline, as I remember, gave five traveling tickets to the Association to send observers to Curacao to observe the living conditions under which vendors live in hotels and other service areas when they traveled there. The observers were able to meet with the Governor and other officials of Curacao and had fruitful discussions relating to the problems involved. The observers were also taken to the Free Zone to observe how vendors were treated while shopping at the Free Zone.

Everything which I witnessed cannot be mentioned in this article, but the main point which I am trying to make is that the United Vendors Association was very helpful in the economic advancement of African people in Jamaica in the past, and that this Association was established and administered by Rastafari People, with the United assistance of African people across the Island of Jamaica. I would also like to make it very clear that Ras Historian and Ras Iyapert were the main administrators with help from other Rastafari people. There were other African people who were helpful but if I try to call any more names here, I would not be able to bring this article to its conclusion which is what I intend to do now. The pictures of Ras Historian and Ras Iyapert are above in this article, let us pay respect to them by just taking a good look at them. As far as I am aware, Ras Historian is still alive but he is facing hard times now. Being a much older person, he has become very sickly with no one to take care of him, and he is not able to take care of his self as he did in the past. I am presently trying to get more information concerning his direct situation and I will post this information if I get it. Take the best care of yourselves and your people.

Again, I send many oceans of blessings and self-determination to African people everywhere.
Baba Ras Marcus.