Chapter 1 | Politics
Many a Rastaman say, “I man doh deal wid politics.” Even the mention of the word breeds contention. And based on our experiences, it smells of corruption. To be “anti-political” is part of the everyday life of I-n-I. Yet everyday we face the same challenges of employment discrimination, housing inequalities and lack of basic medical attention. In short, we face the same woes on a physical level as the rest of the poor, under-developed and oppressed people from Africa to the Caribbean. For the Rastafari Nation to not be politically involved with its day to day survival and existence is an act of denial of its basic human necessities.
Every act of rebellion on the plantation was an act of political resistance. It matters not that it happened over 400 years ago. It was nonetheless an act of economic resistance for freedom and for better living conditions. Today’s modern “plantations” are no less guilty of using the same types of political tactics to maintain the status quo. The survival needs of “plantation” workers have grown alongside the growth of technology. However, living conditions in some areas have remained virtually the same based on the percentage of industrial and technological development.
If we are to argue the point that European slavery and indentured servitude is used as an economic tool, then we must come to the conclusion that we are engaged in the political act of demanding better living and working conditions while we remain on the “plantation.” One need simply consider that asking for a raise is a direct response to the lack of one’s economic stability. Thus, to argue that Rastas should not be engaged in “politics” would be to deny I-n-I the most basic of rights: the right to a better quality of living.
In its growth as a spiritual movement, the Rastafari Nation has also developed the need for a better and more centralized politically aware, active movement. Because I-n-I hold to the fact and divinity of His Imperial Majesty—who was undeniably one of the world’s greatest politicians—we tend to dwell on a more spiritual path toward achieving economic freedom and equality. But if we choose to engage in a continued daily “hustle” for economic stability (while we wait on our desired Reparation and Repatriation plans to develop), we most certainly will also remain in the state of continued plantation dependence. We should, therefore, take the time while we wait to engage in more stable programs of economic development that will become necessary upon Repatriation. This would be in keeping with the political and economic development of Africa as described by His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie in His speeches.
“Today, we also accept as an undenied and undeniable part of modern Ethiopian life the principle that a man’s ultimate worth is determined by his ability and his achievements. Let us, from the greatest to the least, take pride in the performance of the tasks and duties assigned to us, whether or not we believe them worthy of our talents, whether we labor silent and alone, or in the crowd and illuminated by the glaring light of public opinion. The reward for the job well done is not in the recognition of others, nor in public praise. Neither is it to be measured solely by the monetary return earned by the workman. It comes, rather, in the inner satisfaction that accompanies the knowledge that the work accomplished represents the best of which we are capable.” – Haile Selassie 1st, Throne Speech 1965.
It is necessary that we become engaged with political development as we are developing spiritually.
“You here today will, We are confident, serve the nation to the best of your abilities in bringing to the Ethiopian people the fullest possible measure of prosperity and individual freedom and personal dignity. You must not fail, for to do so would be to fail in the trust which We and the Ethiopian people have reposed in you. You have an important role to fulfill in the task of national development which has been Our life’s work and which is now the hope and the task of every forward looking Ethiopian. May Almighty God bless you in your labor.
-Haile Selassie 1st, Throne Speech, 1965.
Today, it has become vitally important for the Rastafari nation to rethink its positions on global development. Rastafari needs to be more politically and legally aware of the enslaver’s global political strategy. We also have to realize that our history has been relegated to antiquity and has become “prehistory.” It is vital that we “relearn ancient wisdom.”
To begin to consider such a mass exodus as Repatriation without proper justice would be a move to relocate oneself to the very same conditions as the one being left. Merely asking for transportation and a census to gather information on personal assets does not begin to satisfy the 500 years of plantation brutality, loss of identity and the myriad other assets stolen from Africa.
The educational “brain drain” taking place in Africa is a result of years of exploitation, and traitors who have given up their African independence to grovel at the feet of their European masters. Colonization is the strategy used by the Europeans to keep the labor of Africans and other non-white peoples at their disposal. The political education that non-white people receive is all geared toward European domination and survival.
How can we deny the direct political ramifications that the Europeans have imposed on us? They have set the tone for the global political playing field by ensuring that they own and control the world’s wealth, and this can only be insured by their continued stranglehold on the world’s non-white population.
The Rastafari Nation needs to put “our house” in order to combat the growing and detrimental threat to our very existence. Failure to do so would result in prolonged non-productive “conferences” and “discussions” that would in the end keep the European global political and economic plan in place. Even as we discuss and confer about Repatriation and Reparations, they are also planning on how not to “pay back” the trillions of dollars accrued over the course of the past 500 years. History has recorded this unpaid European debt, so it would seem obvious that they would design and implement their global economic plan as we have seen with the G8 conferences and their AID packages that are geared toward “reinvestment” in Africa. How can we deny the fact that when we are hungry, that this is not a political ploy that would keep us just short of global starvation? If we look at the giant food conglomerates and the chemical mega companies who dominate the world’s food market with genetically modified and chemically induced food production, their plan is to reduce the production of naturally grown food and replace it with mass produced chemically processed food. These are the same people who all have vested interests in drug producing companies, companies that have already conducted tests on the chemical “fallout” from these modified foods. They expect all of the “common” diseases to come on stream in a given time period and let it run rampant for a time and then “produce” drugs to combat these new diseases that pop up everyday. All these are political actions, planned and executed according to a specified timetable.
With all of the economic and political control of our lives out of our hands, one would think that we would see the devastation and want to do something about it. The conclusion would be to regain control of our own lives. As Bob Marley stated, “Every man have a right to decide his own destiny.” The Rastafari nation has as its priority the option to get involved with its political and economic development or face continued tribalism and chaos.
The continued demand for better living conditions while we are still on the plantation will be just that: a demand. If we don’t address the situation from a political and economic stand point, we will remain in a state of animated poverty.
We are not addressing individual people; we are addressing the needs of a nation. As we build our spiritual base, so too must we build our economic and political bases.
Chapter 2 | Representation
Political representation within the halls of the world’s governments is imperative in the development of the Rastafari Nation as a sovereign entity. We must be engaged in political activity, and to achieve any measure of success our representatives must be politically aware.
Haile Selassie as a Leader and Statesman was very political in his approach to the development of Ethiopia and its people. As he stressed the need for education, he also stressed the need for political and economical development of the African continent as a whole. He traveled throughout the Diaspora and urged Africans to prepare contingency plans for the development of Africa, thus the land grant of Shashamane was born.
Rastafarian Movement is about addressing Black issues, and to date, none of these issues has been resolved. Moreover, one of the most important questions that arise, is why? If we just deal with dreadlocks, ganja and preach one love, we are not dealing with the economic and political development of the Rastafari Nation, we are more or less dealing with spirituality while not addressing the issues of racism, health care and poverty that exists in our communities.
If we push only for the development of our spirituality, we will most definitely end up on the dung heap of religion. Like so many of the “new houses of Rastafari” who are spreading their message of revised Christianity in a continued effort to displace the economic and political development of our people.
Marcus Garvey, being a prophet of Rastafari was very political in his approach to African development in the Diaspora. In addition, he did this while holding on to his belief in God. He represented the social development of the African people globally.
The rise of Pan-Africanism during the 20th century gave birth to the social and political movements toward the development of the African people. As we moved to separate ourselves from the Eurocentric mindset, we began to replace it with that Africa and its global presence. The contributions of Africans of the past to global development began to surface and we became aware of the African social, economic and political developments that were the blueprint of the civilized world.
The Rastafari Nation has to have representation on the world’s political stage. In today’s highly developed information theater, we cannot deny our involvement in political and social uprisings for better living conditions. These are all political actions that need representing properly by politically active Rastafari people.
Rasponse to this reasoning: Rasta and Politics | Message from Gideon Zebulon