Smile Jamaica pays tribute to the King of Kings/Negusa Negast, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Elect of God. Everliving God. Earth’s Rightful Ruler. Ras Tafari – the Head Creator. Haile Selassie I – Power of the Trinity. Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-1974. The Jah in Reggae Music Gospel produced by Rastafari devotees.
<Honorifics of His Imperial Majesty; 25 sec.>
Or is he the world’s first hippie?; 48 sec.
Descended from the lineage of King David by way of his son, Solomon. Abyssinian (the name of Ethiopia in antiquity) princess Queen Makeda married Solomon. Which is why His Imperial Majesty is often called the Lion of Judah.
<Lamb of Judah; 30 sec.>
And as befits the Lion of Judah, you and I might have pet cats or dogs or goldfish. His Imperial Majesty had pet lions! 56 sec,
Why Rastafari from Jamaica?
In the 1800’s slavery was abolished in Jamaica. Freed black slaves didn’t want to harvest sugar cane for rich British colonials. So, the plantation owners looked to another colony for indentured labor: India.
In the rural areas where freed blacks now eked out an existence as small farmers, Hindus in the area cut the cane. As the two cultures mixed, two ideas from Hinduism meshed with local protestant Christian religion imposed on the black Jamaicans:
This crossing of cultures would later come to pass in the early 20th century. Jamaican born African Nationalist, Marcus Garvey, said look to the east where a king will be crowned and that will be the signal for repatriation to Africa. Get out of Babylon captivity as the ancient Hebrews left their bondage in Mesopotamia.
Haile Selassie was prophecy. Long story short: Ras Tafari – the Head Creator, was foretold to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. (Pronounced Jess-us by the Rastas.)
As a signal of faith, these esoteric Christians began to grow dreadlocks as part of the old Hebrew Nazarite tradition:
- Do not partake of wine or liquor.
- No razor shall crease thy flesh nor thine hair.
- Avoid anything dead. (Consume no flesh.)
If wine is not allowed as a Rasta sacrament, locally grown cannabis fit the criterion. Cutting sugar cane is hard work, the Hindus brought herb with them to take the edge off their labors. The psychoactive plant was part of their devotion to their Goddess Kali.
<Hindusm and Rastafari; 98 sec.>
Rastas adapted to collie (sinsemilla smoked in chalices) for their devotion to Haile Selassie.
Here is the foundation book on Rastafari*
*Rastas tend to avoid isms and schisms. They don’t want to be called Rastafarian. That is an “ism”. Rastas as a collective would be: Rastafari. I tend to say Rastafari fellows. Or Rastafari believers.
Reggae music prior to “Rastafari Gospel” was limited to pop radio covers, love songs and novelty records. What was loved world wide was shunned by local Jamaicans horrified by these dreadlock ruffians. To be a Rasta in Jamaica was like being a punk rocker in London: a target for police abuse.
The cops and army in Jamaica had discriminated against Rastas. There was even a notorious massacre chronicled in song called the Green Bay Killing.
<Discrimination against dreads in Jamaica; 44 sec.>
Rastas would often be shaved by Johnny Law in Jamaica: the ultimate insult. Imagine knocking a yarmulke off of a Jewish man’s head. Or ripping the habit or hijab from a Nun/Muslim woman.
<Police Trim Rasta; 30 sec.>
Selassie’s hold on Reggae music is best epitomized by Bob Marley. He took HIM’s speech to the United Nations against War and put the words to song.
<Bob Marley’s War; 82 sec.>
1963 United Nations speech against war
- On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson:
- that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned;
- that until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation;
- that until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes;
- that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race;
- that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.
- And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed;
- until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will;
- until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven;
- until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.
But alas, it wasn’t to be. Ethiopia got caught up in the maelstrom of the Cold War proxy hot wars. Famine in the provinces led to communist revolution. The Soviet Union looked to topple a Western allied autocracy. Selassie’s governors were corrupt and incompetent.
In Sept. 1974, the Dergue communists overthew the Emperor and Selassie died an ignominious death similar to the Czar in Russia.
Rastas, refused to believe it. You can’t kill God! Bob Marley’s Jah Live and Peter Tosh’s Fools Die speak to this heresy.
<Jah Live; 2 min. 57 sec.>
One man who means so much to Reggae music. No Jah. No Roots Reggae. No Smile Jamaica. That is why I ‘n’ I pay tribute today.
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: Jah’ly 20, 2019: Annotated Playlist: Haile Selassie I Birthday Showcase; 69 sec.
- Natural Ites & Realistics – Picture on the Wall; Picture on the Wall (CSA) ’85 UK vinyl: 3 Hours for Haile Selassie 7/23/1892
- Ja-Man All-Stars – King’s Dub; King’s Dub (Manzie) ’80 UK vinyl dub album of the hour
- Love Joys – Wherever Jah Send Me; Reggae Vibes (Wackies) ’81 female roots duo
- Benjamin Zephaniah – Rasta; Rasta (Workers Playtime) ’83 UK dub poet
- Barrington Levy – Please Jah Jah; Prison Oval Rock (RAS) ’84
- Mikey Dread – Walk Rastafari Way; Dread at the Controls (Trojan) ’79
- Don Carlos – Jah Jah Hear My Plea; Prophecy (Blue Moon) ’84
- Cedric Myton & the Congos – Wherever He Leads Me; Face the Music (VP) ’81
- Sister Carol – Jah Disciple; Jah Disciple (RAS) ’89
- Lee & Jimmy – Rasta Train; Voodooism (Pressure Sounds) ’75 Lee “Scratch” Perry Black Ark prod’
- Bim Sherman – Lamb of Judah; Bim Sherman Meets Horace Andy & U Black in a Rub-a-Dub Style (Original) ’79
- Keith Hudson – I Broke the Comb; Rasta Communication (Greensleeves) ’78
- Cocoa Tea – Jah Made Them That Way; Rocking Dolly (RAS) ’83 update of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature
- Althea & Donna – Jah Rastafari; Uptown Top Ranking (Virgin Front Line) ’78 female dj duo
- Ijahman Levi – Jah Is No Secret; Haile I Hymn (Island) ’78
- Augustus Pablo – Well Red; Trojan Dub Box Set 2 (Trojan) Dub Album of the Hour
- Don Carlos – Just a Passing Glance; Just a Passing Glance (RAS) ’84
- Judy Mowatt – Hold Them Jah; Love Is Overdue (Shanachie) ’87
- Prince Buster – Police Trim Rasta; Sister Big Stuff (Sunspot) ’71
- Silvertones – Rejoice Jah Jah Children; Words of My Mouth (Trojan) Lee “Scratch” Perry Black Ark prod’n
Set 5: Vinyl is Vital
- Prince Far I – Every Time I Talk About Jah; Musical History (Trojan) ’83 uK
- In Crowd – His Majesty is Coming; His Majesty is Coming (Creole) ’78 Fr.
- Zema – Selassie; Zema (Melchizedek) ’86 So Cal roots dawta
- Owen Gray – Jah Jah Train; Dreams of Owen Gray (Trojan) ’79 UK Curtis Mayfield People Get Ready
- Ricky Grant – I Love Jah Rastafari; I Love Jah Rastafari + dub (Rockers) ’78 JA A. Pablo prod’n
- Bob Marley & the Wailers – War; Rastaman Vibration (Tuff Gong) ’76 + Haile Selassie’s speech to the United Nations
- Bunny Wailer – War; Tribute (Solomonic) ’81 JA vinyl; cover version
- Rita Marley – That’s the Way (Jah Jah Planned It); 12″ (Trident) ’80 UK disco mix
- The Revolutionaries – 79 Rock; Outlaw Dub (Trojan) ’79 UK vinyl dub album of the hour
- Cymande – Rastafarian Folk Song; Promised Heights (Sequel) ’74 UK rock/reggae/soul/jazz
- Aisha – Only Jah Works; True Roots (Ariwa) ’94
- Wingless Angels – Rasta Army; Wingless Angels (MIndless) ’96 Keith Richards, Justin Hinds and nyahbinghi drummers
- Bad Brains – Rally Round Jah Throne; Rock For Light (Caroline) ’83 DC punk reggae
- Bob Marley & the Wailers – Jah Live; 7″ (Tuff Gong) ’75 – you can’t kill Jah
- Peter Tosh – Fools Die; Wanted Dread & Alive (Rolling Stone) ’81 – you can’t kill Jah
- Toots & the Maytals – 80,000 Careless Ethiopians; Knock Out! (Mango) ’81
- Alpha & Omega – Jah Is Gonna Help Me; Daniel in the Lion’s Den (A & O) ’89 UK trance dub w/ female vox
- Barry Isaac – Let’s Praise H.I.M.; Man of the Century (Reggae on Top) 2001
- Tena Stelin & Jah Warrior – Keep Jah Vibes; Lion Symbol (Jah Warrior) ’99