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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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As a people, our most cherished and valuable achievements are the achievements of spirit. With an Afrocentric spirit, all things can be made to happen; it is the source of genuine revolutionary commitment.1

In this work, I have sought to demonstrate a variety of issues. A primary reflection has been the reality that the Rastafarian movement is at the heart of a movement that runs counter-culturally to the aims and ambitions of the West, the Rasta’s Babylon. In its beliefs, its language and its vision, it emphasizes a movement that takes the marginalized away from focusing on the merits or demerits of the Western metropolitan centres and challenges black people everywhere that their focus and salvation lies in Africa, particularly Ethiopia. It is my view that the Rasta movement is the authoritative post-colonial movement of the twentieth century and in its practices, it challenges the Western hegemony of political, social and religious ideas at every point. All the trappings of Western elitism are fair game for the Rasta, who refuses to submit to Western institutions of politics, finance and ecclesiology. Its major claim that HIM Selassie I is the incarnation of God and that there is a Black God who gives affirmation to Black people everywhere shakes the very foundations of the Church in the West. It gives voice to a counter theological narrative that ‘God is Black.’

Its total reconfiguration of language is a specific tool to strengthen its stance, where it is...

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