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In this two-part documentary, we are being treated with the history of the Movement of Rastafari, from the start to the situation in contemporary Jamaica.  

Some elements in the video might be hard to follow for non-Jamaicans, as there is no subtitling. That's why this in-depth review actually contains a description of the whole two-part video. 

It is a must-see for everyone, if only to get a better look on just how the music we all love so much actually came into existence. 

The video opens with a central theme within the Movement. We see Fillmore Alvaranga of the Mystic Revelations of Rastafari group, asking how it comes that countries like England are so rich. They might have officially abolished slavery, but the fruits continues until this very day. Stolen from Africa, in order to be used as richness over here in Babylon.

We are then taken to a Bobo Shanti camp, where a groundation or gathering is ongoing. The Bible is open and the drums are played. A Rasta explains what they are doing, after which we are taken into the study of Barry Chevannes, a well known professor who speaks about the tremendous influence of Rastafari in the culture of Jamaica and beyond.

The "dread combination" of Reggae and Rastafari is usually seen as a minor influence, but this video actually shows a different story. We are being introduced to Mortimer Planno, one of the founders of the Movement. He speaks about his initial contacts with Bob Marley and his influence in Marley's spiritual development and lyrical expressions.

The legendary "One Love Peace Concert", wherein Bob Marley called the two main political rivals on stage in order to make them shake hands and stop the violence that terrorized the island, turns out to be a the result of Marley's contacts with Mortimer Planno, too. The concert almost got him killed, as anonymous gunmen tried to shoot the King of Reggae before he could perform.

After a few clips from the One Love concert, fast forward a few decades into the ghetto's of Kingston. The music changed, but how about the situation? It turns out, that it is still Rastafari who appeals to the needs of the poor people. Poor people who are being kept poor while being forced into political violence that only serves the interests of the power elite.

But still, it remains hard for a Rasta to be a Rasta in that society. Even though the positive influence of the Movement is obvious, there's still too much discrimination and prejudice against the Rastaman. Part of this is caused by people who do wear dreadlocks but only for the looks. "We call them fashion dread", as Rasta spokesman Ras Dago says in the video.

However, Rastafari may be fought against, the fact is that the Movement has gone globally in the mean time. In every nation and continent you can find Rasta people. 

And in the same time, the Jamaican government is just too happy with the financial income that the island generates from tourists who want to have a "Rasta Holiday". Still, the Movement is still not officially recognized. Many try to have it officially recognized as a religion so that a Rasta can do his thing in peace, but it has yet to come in Jamaica.

Ras Dago continues to explain, just where the name Rastafari comes from. It was the name of the Ethiopian Emperor before he was crowned Haile Selassie. The significance of a Black King is then explained, for why is there always a White Jesus and a White King and a White Queen? Rastafari shows the people of Jamaica that Black is Beautiful, that the Creator has nothing to do with this colonialist thing.

Someone who had an enormous influence in Black Thinking, was Marcus Garvey. He is also presented in this video. The Movement of Rastafari kept the Garveyite traditions until his philosophies are now at the root of most black liberation groups in the world today.

Leonard Howell, one of Garvey's followers, started to spread his believe that the Ethiopian Emperor actually was God. This believe continues to be present with a lot of Rastafarians. The "Howelites" started to congregate and the birth of the movement was a fact. 

Persecution of the Movement was a fact, too. Members were stoned to death, for example. The camps were brutally looted, as we see one eye witness describe just what happened. Leonard Howell himself was thrown into a mental hospital because the colonial downpressors didn't like his message of Blackman Liberation.

With a society that is so brutally set against this Movement, the Rastafarians started their own communes, some of which continue to thrive until this very day. 

Fillmore Alvaranga then tells us, when dreadlocks came into the picture. He points to the Mau Mau freedom fighters in Kenya, Africa. Barry Chevannes tells us how the militancy of a certain group back in the late 1940's also started to carry dreadlocks as a sign of protest against the powers of downpression called Babylon system.

This also triggered a reverend Claudius Henry who came from America and started to preach doctrines in Jamaica. Eventually, the colonial government charged him with subversive activity and it was said he wrote a letter to Cuba asking for an invasion. As he was charged, some people came and tried to liberate him out of prison. In the resulting gun fire, the colonial government had found another reason to downpress Rastafari even further.

When two or three Rasta's would stand together at the corner of the street, people were encouraged to report it to the police. That enraged Mortimer Planno, who together with a few brethren wrote an appeal to the University to come and research the Movement, in order to see that there is no reason for the persecution.

So said, so done. It went further, as the Jamaican governor was more or less forced to organize a ten-man Rasta delegation to the African continent. They went to Kenya and had reconciliation with the descendants of tribes that had sold the Jamaicans' fore parents as slaves to the white slave traders. they went to Ethiopia where Haile Selassie told them that there was land for them: Shashamane.

But then there was another incident, in 1963. Again, Rastas were accused of killing and putting a gas station to fire. Three were shot, three hundred were arrested for being a Rasta. And, according to Fillmore Alvaranga, this happened under the motto: "If the prison can't hold them, throw them in the cemetery"...

Rastas were then more or less declared outlaws: "wanted dead or alive". Literally. Police harassed them everywhere, forcing many to cut their locks. We see someone in the streets agreeing to this policy. Agreeing to the governor saying to "arrest Rastas, dead or alive"...

"Persecution elevated the movement's status among the people", the narrator tells us. The younger generation was attracted to the Movement. Emperor Haile Selassie's visit to Jamaica in 1966 also helped easing the tensions.

The Movement continued to develop, and the different camps began to have different doctrines and names: Nyabinghy, Twelve Tribes, et cetera. But one thing remains firmly: "repatriation is a must"...






The Rise of Rastafari

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