It used to be that is you saw someone with dreadlocks, wearing the colors of the Ethiopian flag, listening reggae music and probably smoking some marijuana; you would often assume that person was a Rasta.
Nowadays not only does non-Rasta wear dreadlocks and Rasta clothing but there are also some people who claim Rasta but are in fact very far from Rasta.
So if you see someone that claims to be a Rasta and you want to know if they are real or fake, here are two simple questions to ask them:
1. What is the name of your holy book?
The fake Rasta will answer that it is the holy bible. Yes, the King James bible.
The real Rasta will answer that it is the holy Piby. When Percival Howell founded the Rasta movement in Jamaica, one of his first and most important goals was to get them away from the King James Bible which he considered the “white man bible”.
Howell was astounded at the fact that Black people could read a bible that justified slavery and oppression. He was also angry at some of the blatant disrespect of Black people in the bible, for example where it says “I am black but I am comely”. Howell saw that as the bible painting Black people as being mostly uncomely and it was rare to see a Black person who was comely. So in Pinnacle where he set up the first Rasta community, everyone was given a holy Piby and the King James Bible was not allowed in the community.
2. Who is the Gong?
The fake Rasta will answer that it is Bob Marley.
The real Rasta will tell you that the Gong is Percival Howell. Howell, a student of Marcus Garvey, is the original founder of the Rasta Movement. When he founded the movement he appointed himself as “The Gong” and that’s how he was referred to in the first Rasta community, Pinnacle. The Gong meant that he was the leader of the community just like a mayor is the leader in a city within Babylon.
It is not clear how and why people started referring to Bob Marley as The Gong. Maybe it was continuation of the attempt by Alexander Bustamante to wipe Leonard Howell from the history books.
One thing is for sure; you will never hear a fake Rasta talk about Leonard Howell or give him credit for creating the Rasta movement. They will skip Howell and give the credit to his mentor, Marcus Garvey. The truth is, however, Marcus Garvey despised Haile Selassie I and spoke about the emperor in derogatory terms after Selassie went into exile when the Italians invaded Ethiopia.
So if you want to be a Rasta, the dreadlocks, the clothes you wear and whether or not you smoke marijuana should all be minor concerns. The first things you need to do is burn your King James bible, get a copy of the Holy Piby then study research Leonard Howell and study and understand his teachings.