As Christian children we are taught the concept of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Those were the three that made up the Trinity. As we grew older, some of us idea of the Trinity changed, but for the most part the Trinity did not include a woman.
In Yasus Afari’s book “Overstanding Rastafari”, he introduces the idea that the woman plays a part in the Trinity. According to Yasus, the Trinity is actually the Father, the Mother and the Children. The children could be Sons or Daughters and not just the Son as said in the bible’s concept of the holy trinity.
Below is a discussion with Yasus Afari as he explains his concept of God and the holy trinity.
You don’t like to talk about God per se as you believe the concept is misconstrued. You prefer to talk about God in terms of the Creator, the Source, the Beginner. Could you elaborate further?
I don’t think we should divorce humanity from divinity. We like to consider a perpetual relationship between the Creator and the created. So, therefore, wherever Jah is, him not leaving him family because God is a family man. And the Goddess is a family woman. Even the concept of matter exists in three fundamental forms – this speaks to the concept of the Trinity.
The Trinity is Father, Mother and Children. Most people enjoy saying Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Well me never harass them on that really – because we can rationalize that also. But the idea of a Father speaks to the idea of a Mother – so we need not repeat that. It is still contained in that triune. The idea of a Son again speaks to the idea of parents – father and mother. The idea of Father and Mother speaks to the idea of a Daughter. The Holy Spirit speaks to the idea of that invisible dimension which moves and quickens and corrects the human fraternity.
So, therefore, we don’t escape the concept of the triune Father, Mother and Children … The human family existed before the creation of the physical dimension. Genesis speaks to the addition of another dimension. Even when the Almighty said, “Let us create … “, God was not a madman to be talking to himself. (And even if he were talking to himself, himself is divided into facets and aspects.) Therefore we think that God did tired to be walking naked so he wanted some clothes. Just like how human being were tired to walk naked so they wanted some fig leaves.
So the earth is only a small part of the universe in a little corner.
The universe is not the only existence either.
How do you know that?
We know that by scientific evidence.
But science only judges what is in the universe.
Exactly – but listen this now. Everything that is within is without and everything that is singular is plural. It is what we know that gives us the idea of the unknown. Therefore, let us examine what we have then we can examine what we don’t have. Let us examine what we know which will give us an insight into what is unknown.
Do you have any views concerning the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant?
It is in Ethiopia.
How can you be certain of that?
How I can be certain is maybe to see it physically. But then I have visited there and I have interviewed the priests and the Levites and government officials. This will also be clear to you if you study the Bible and the Kebra Negast, human society – contemporary and traditional – and you examine the role played by religious and spiritual communities over time, and if you examine that in the context of Ethiopia. From the Rastafarian perspective the Emperor Haile Selassie I is the living Ark of the Covenant. This becomes clearer if you study the reference to Mary as Mt. Zion – it speaks to the idea that a womb shall bear the Ark of the Covenant in flesh. It did say in St. John chapter one verse one – “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.”
Do you have a church background?
There are two ways I can answer that. I and I has been and still continues to be a member of the church because I and I structure is the temple of the Almighty God. I and I grow up in the Shiloh Apostolic Church in St. Elizabeth where I was baptized.
What does the name Yasus Afari mean?
Yasus Afari means a gift of vision.
What was the name you were known by before you were known as Yasus Afari?
Well mama give I the name John Sinclair. And ‘John’ is also synonymous with vision.
Do you think there has been a demise in lyrics of popular Jamaican music because of a decline in the influence of Rastafarians on reggae and dancehall music?
There is no question that popular music has deteriorated in large measure because persons have taken the Rasta livity out of the music. Rasta represent the morals of the music. These little youths want to wine in bed with three girls all at once … These kinds of utterances which have become second nature on the lips of the youths and the children – is actually a monster being created. Legitimate resistance is different from crime, decadence and corruption … Even so-called Rastas are guilty of these things – I write a book like this fi mek a man know sey Rasta nuh promote immorality, slackness and nastiness in whatever guise or label it want to wear.
As a senior artiste and luminary in the local Rastafarian community, can’t you sit down and have a talk with some of the younger deejays to urge them to purify their lyrics? Or have you been doing so?
I and I do that consistently. I do that one to one. I don’t fraid to rebuke them publicly or privately. Open rebuke better than secret love. But I think it is a principled thing to approach a person on a one-on-one basis if given the opportunity and the gravity of the situation does not necessitate an open rebuke … I am one of the few people who come out and rebuke Bounty Killer and Beenie Man publicly … And them don’t have any animosity to me. It is sacrilegious to use the music to bring down the morals of the people.
What do you make of someone like Judy Mowatt who was a member of the Rastafarian community and who now says Jesus is the only way and Selassie is not God?
Well, me address that gospel twist in a chapter called Language and Music. Sister Judy Mowatt, she grow up maybe under the Christian influence and then the Rastafarian movement overwhelmed. My personal take on it is that in her moment of difficulties, the Rastafarian community was not there for her. She became disillusioned and the Christian community reached out to her and embraced her. And she was seduced as a consequence … We should not throw scorn and ridicule on Sister Judy Mowatt who is seeking out her personal salvation in harmony, I hope, with the dictates of her conscience … We must reach out to her and love her same way as we did not in her moment of grief. Let us be there for her now – not in competition with her present stance with the community she is embracing now. But do so as fellow members of the human family and the Jamaican family.
What do you think church people should take away from a reading of your book?
People in general and church people in particular should take a page out of Overstanding Rastafari knowing that God don’t have malice with human beings. It is because human beings so out of order why maybe the communication and connection with the Almighty is not as robust and energetic as it ought to be. Therefore, don’t trample your thoughts and inspiration in the ground. No one can teach you anything. They can only remind you of what is already there. Therefore, we need to revisit facets and aspects of the reality that we are out of touch with. And bring our thoughts and visions into reality and realize our purpose and potential in life. Don’t be afraid to proclaim the thoughts and inspiration in harmony with the good voice inside of you.
The religious communities are only concerning themselves with what they have learned is religious or spiritual. We must rationalize and harmonize the physical with the spiritual, the clergy with the laity. This is where the Church blunders. We have to concern ourselves with the liberation of a people.This man whom they claim to follow – Jesus Christ – is indeed a revolutionary and liberator. He did not sleep in bed with those who oppress the people. But he let his voice stand and he was willing to go to the cross in the defense of truth and right and justice and fair play and judgement and righteousness over corruption and good over evil. So if there is any page me would offer them is that page.
Yasus Afari may be reached at [email protected]