The original “Gong” Leonard Percival Howell of Jamaica is known as the first Rasta and founder of the Rastafari movement. The movement developed as a means and way for the redemption of the African diaspora. He drew from the teachings of Marcus Garvey and built on the prophesy (“Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand”).
He saw the crowning of Ras Tafari Makonnen as Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia as the fulfillment of this prophesy: “The Messiah returned to earth”
He begun his mission in 1933 and formed a community called Pinnacle in the parish of Saint Catherine that became famous as a place of refuge and assembly for Rasta. The Jamaican establishment saw this movement as a threat and over the following years, Howell came into conflict with the planters, the trade unions, the established churches, police and colonial authorities.
He was accused of conduct and speech that incite rebellion against the authority of Jamaica. For this he was arrested and jailed many times but against these odds the movement prospered, but suffered a devastating blow from the local militia who destroyed Pinnacle in 1953.
Nevertheless Rastafari faith flourished and today exists worldwide. It’s important to note that unlike Bob Marley, the famous “Tuff Gong” and face of Rastafari, Howell never wore dreadlocks. So having dreadlocks does not automatically qualify anyone as a Rasta.
On March 1st of 1958, A new branch of the Rastafari movement was formed: The Bobo Ashanti order. Located at 54b Spanish Town Road in Kingston, Its founder Charles Edwards is held by that group to be a member of the holy Trinity; Haile Selassie as the King of Kings, Garvey as the prophet John the Baptist and Charles Edwards as the High Priest Melchizedek.
Leonard Howell was a messenger and activist, but Charles Edwards was of a divine nature according to his followers. Holy Emmanuel, Jes-us the Black Christ in Flesh, God and King, Black Moses the lord’s Servant are some of his titles. While the approaches and doctrines were different in style the purpose was the same. To gather all African slave children in the Diaspora to return to the original vine and fig tree. Ethiopia Africa.
54b Spanish Town Road (Backa Wall) suffered the same fate as Pinnacle. But Emmanuel prevailed and relocate to 10 miles Bull Bay as a fulfillment of another one of Garvey’s prophesies (“…move 10 miles out of Kingston city”). This location (Bobo Hill) holds another unique feature that made it perfect. The area is also known as Jamaica gates which is ideal for the docking of the 7 or 13 mile of Black Star Liner for repatriation.
(E.A.B.I.C.) ETHIOPIA AFRICA BLACK INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS, True divine Church of Salvation is the group official name. The members bear the title of Bobo Dreads. Their mantra is “Holy Emmanuel I, Selassie I, Jah! Rastafari.”
They are a group that believes in black supremacy and the preservation of the black race. For this reason this group and the original Rases did not partake in inter racial relationships. Black is never to be placed below white; therefore black shoes or shoes with black bottoms are prohibited. Whenever these two colors “Black and White” are together, black must always be placed at the top as a sign and remembrance of its dominant nature.
No music except for Binghi drumming and hymns are allowed on the Hill. They claim to be a people above all organization, standing Governmental, Parliamental, Churchical, Statecal and Sabbathical.
This order link its roots to the Ashanti tribe of Ghana and adopts the Ghanaian flag as part of their banner. The Ghanaian flag features a black five point star and the colors red,gold,and green. This is a very sacred part of this group’s identity because of the succession of the colors, Red at the top followed by the Gold and Green and the black star in the middle as a representation of black salvation and redemption. I was told by the Jamaican people that the original Bobos were among the most peaceful people on the Island of Jamaica.
The other branches of Rasta such as Nyabinghi and 12 Tribes are more militant and fly’s the Ethiopian flag which feature’s a lion and the same three colors, Green at the top followed by Gold, the lion in the middle with its feet on the Red at the bottom. Signifying revolution (the lion feet dipped in blood). This difference in color arrangement at times causes major disputes among Bobo Ashanti and the other groups.
Even though The Rastafari movement grew out of the resistance against white imperialism, it true nature is peace and love far all people and harmony with the earth. Because of this benevolent virtue, the movement is very attractive to all people who harmonize with the positive vibrations of life. The authoritative text is the Bible, Kebra Nagast and the Fehta Nagast.
The mission and message lives on through the movement and its greatest activist “Reggae Music.”