28.07.2011 16:39 Age: 6 yrs
Category: engl Karibik Allgemein / Politik

The Future of Rastafari


-

Ata recent symposium at Nova Southeastern University, The Rastafari Impact on the Culture of Jamaica and the World, whatbegan as an assessment of the movement was transformed into a lively discussionabout the future of Rastafari. This was hardly surprising. From the time I wasa yute in Jamaica, I've been a partof and sometimes witnessed these deep reasonings. And this was a vitallyimportant discussion. Nearly all of the panelists, Ras Don Rico Ricketts, Dr.Roy Augier, Nana Farika, Mama Iyaddis, Dr. Michael Barnett, Dr. Jahlani"Bongo" Niaah, and Dr. K'adamawe K'nife, seemed to be wrestling withthe issue of "how to be in the world, but not of it." The significanceof this issue lies in the genesis of Rastafari, which was labeled as a cult bythe British government, and its growth into a movement that has had a profoundimpact on global cultures, especially in the area of music.
Thepresentation began with a pointed analysis by Ras Don Rico Ricketts, who moderatedthe symposium. He was followed by Sir Roy Augier, the only surviving author ofthe seminal Report on the RastafariMovement in Kingston, Jamaica.
Dr.Augier began by noting the contributions of M. G. Smith and Rex Nettleford, whoseinfluence was noted by nearly every panelist. After a brief summary of thereport, Dr. Augier challenged Rastafari to become more engaged in theircommunities and pointed to several forms of denial that were prevalent in theCaribbean and Rastafari. While he acknowledged that the idea of repatriationwas a central tenet of Rastafari, Dr. Augier suggested that repatriation amongRastafari was a form of denial of the "lives that made a culture on theseshores."
Ifit was a rebuke, then it was a mild one. For Dr. Augier had nothing but praisefor Rastafari when he introduced the concept of negotiation, which set the tonefor the challenges, which he suggested that Rastafari and the Caribbean mustconfront: "Negotiationis a metaphor for navigation of the African presence in ourselves… We see it inthe mirror and we don't like it…We are not whole. We are bifurcated." Dr.Augier then asked the rhetorical question, "How do we negotiate theAfrican presence in the Americas'" Rastafari, Dr. Augier argued began asan interrogation of the African presence in the Americas and that the movementposited an alternative value system of capitalist systems. He also contendedthat the movement could have positive effects on governance and the dietaryhabits of the Caribbean--noting the deleterious effects of fast food chains ofthe health of Caribbean peoples: "We are not eating right."
Thediscussion shifted its focus when Nana Farika, a senior Rastafari elder,stressed the importance of restoring the Omega balance, expressed in of EmpressMenen of Ethiopia and Mama Iyaddis mused about Rastafari losing its impact bythe growing commercialization of the movement. Dr. Michael Barnett and Dr.Jahlani "Bongo" Niaah also highlighted the significance of The Report on the Rastafari Movement inKingston, Jamaica.
Butit was Dr. K'adamawe K'nife, a lecturer in the Department of Management Studiesat the University of the West Indies, whose startling break with the program capturedthe imagination of the audience.
Inhis presentation, "A New Hope for Humanity," Dr. K'nife offered anelegant assessment of Rastafari's centrality in Jamaican culture and offered Rastafarias an alternative to the current social, political, and economic systems:
Emphasis on the human rather thancapital Rastafari: an ethic for sustainabledevelopment Application of Rastafari in conjunctionwith the deep ecology Movement away from reliance on textssuch as the King James Version tointuitive and metaphysical livity Itral: The Law of Life "Rastafari, the ancient future. Manof the past, living in the present, walking into the future."
FollowingDr. K'nife's lecture, Ras Don Rico Ricketts invited audience participation in aQ&;A session, which continued until the conclusion of the program.
Rastafari,in its current incarnation, which was born in slave ships, flourished in thehills of Jamaica, and blossomed in reggae, has had a profound influence on mygeneration. Drawing on its roots in Garveyism, which emphasized self-relianceand entrepreneurship, unity and nationhood, Rastafari informed our sense ofidentity. And because Rastafari did not separate the physical from thespiritual in all their manifestations, the movement offered an attractivealternative to the Cartesian models of the West. Like many Caribbean Boomers,Rastafari has been, to borrow Dr. Augier's metaphor, a way of honoring theAfrican presence in our lives and negotiating between a system that valuescapital over the human and Dr. K'nife's expansive interpretation of themovement.
Image created by Ras Don Rico Ricketts.