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Beyond RastafarI

An Historical and Theological Introduction


Marzia A. Coltri

This book is an invitation to reflect on how a minority culture emerged from within «Third World» liberation movements. It considers not only the historical and cultural journey between Ethiopia and Jamaica, but also the psychological dynamics of subalterns between the East and the West.
In this work, the author discusses the various beliefs and ideologies of the RastafarI movement in relation to Ethiopia, and challenges the RastafarI misogynistic attitude by rehabilitating the position of women within the movement through the figure of the Queen of Sheba.
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Chapter 5: Afrocentricity in RastafarI: The origins of the RastafarI movement


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Afrocentricity in RastafarI: The origins of the RastafarI movement

If you know your history, then you will know where you’re coming from

— Buffalo Soldier by BOB MARLEY and the WAILERS

If we think and view through a Rasta lens (the insider’s position), as Marley notes (see the above quotation), we can understand the history of RastafarI as having moved from a position of subalternity to become an active Afrocentric liberative movement for the marginalized. This section revisits the African perspective in RastafarI. The cultural and religious diversity in RastafarI is exclusively African and represents an African renaissance. Africa is the source of inspiration for Rasta art, Rasta Talk (language), religion and philosophy. Rasta communities seek to re-humanize themselves through Africa. Their African discourse (Africanity) has been an important aspect for cultural and racial independence (‘the national renaissance’1) of the ‘Black Skins’, as the Martiniquan philosopher and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon called them, against the hegemonic schemes of the ‘White oppressors’. RastafarI is a contest for space, a moment of inspiration for oppressed people who advocate political, cultural and religious equality, parity and inclusion in public places – the reintroduction of the African people in the African world. As an independent cultural and religious agency, RastafarI views the African world both as the origin of a political thrust against a long history of colonial humiliation and racism and also as a locus for cultural, ethnic, social and religious identification, often...

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