From earliest times Rastafari branding and trade were essentially tied to the livity of the movement. Handicraft in wool, carving, catering and other mediums had one thing in common: they all expressed the i-rits (spirit) of the movement. They carried the message of Rastafari in colour, design, taste and iconography. Through the work of hands InI art and culture expressed the heartical knowledge of Rastafari and communicated the inner truths of a new, dynamic and distinctive way of life.
Rastafari found ways of self-employment outside the system – necessarily, since the system was averse to Rastafari. The mainstream was controlled by Babylon. Rastafari served up an alternative vision of existence based on Peace and Love.
InI functional creativity was founded on Nature. For instance, a single tree, the i-conut, (coconut) was the provider of not merely food and water. It also furnished mats for flooring, roofs for dwelling-places, brooms, hats, shoes and clothing for everyday wear. I-conut also became central to the ital diet. Truly this was the tree planted by the waters, bringing forth fruit in abundance – in and out of season. Thousands of polished trinkets (known by the Bobo-Shanti as ‘guidance’) were fashioned from the hard shell of the i-conut to be worn as emblems, bracelets, on necklaces, ear-rings, and as natural jewellery. The range of products from this one tree exemplified Rastafari creativity, industry and invention. It fully demonstrated InI ability to survive and trade from the bounty of Mother Earth.
Rastafari art, craft and cuisine served multiple purposes. It was an invitation to reason, exchange, communicate, question, engage and edify. InI reached across barriers of fear, ignorance, apathy and alienation to convince, influence and convert, whilst raising funds for day-to-day survival. Trade and life (livity) were intrinsically entwined. As the elders said, the knowledge of the Most High would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2, 14)
The Rastafari brand was inevitably picked up by mainstream business in fashion, media, sport and entertainment. Red, gold and green became the must-have colour combination in advertising. The dreadlock image, once scorned and vilified, became a major force in pop culture. After all, there was no copyright on rainbow colours, no law to forbid the hijack of Rastafari imagery and produce. On the contrary, ‘natural man’ was an iconic standard-bearer in a world that had become false and outmoded. “A new name Jah got and it terrible among men.” Rastafari natural livity exposed the fake reality of Babylon. The scent of the Sacred Herb perfumed the universe, bringing a sense of peace and tranquility into realms of oppression that hungered for Justice and Equality. No wonder the Rastafari brand became the most attractive trademark on the planet. Reggae music rode the airwaves of every nation, especially in times of revolution against the establishment.
But even global popularity has its drawbacks. If salt should lose its savour, will it be seasoned with a salt-free diet? If spirituality is diluted, what is its worth socially, health-wise and financially? Today mega corporations such as Monsanto (Mt Satan) are eyeing up profits to be made from extensive ganja cultivation. Puma and other sportswear manufacturers have cornered the rainbow market. Knee-length trousers, car-tyre sandals, fishnet vests and other Rastafari garments have been modified and commodified as consumer goods without credit being given to the pioneers of these creations.
InI need to reclaim the Rastafari patent by a return to basics. The nation needs to regroup and consolidate its unique unified strength as a global community or risk the dissipation of InI most valued asset: integrity. Ini must look to His Imperial Majesty, Who has created InI in His own image, knowing He will not allow mankind to destroy the earth He has made safe through the conquest of Good over Evil. His teaching is InI confidence: the courage to withstand the scourge of unrighteous men and to triumph in His Name, ever vigilant in the defence of Nature, holding fast to the heritage of i-vinity and the hallmark of Excellence. InI must continue to outgrow ourselves, to become something we have never been, and for which our education and experience have ill-prepared us: bolder in irits, more courageous in action, global in outlook, owing ultimate allegiance not to nations, but to our fellow beings in the community of life. His Imperial Majesty has enjoined InI to live as far as possible in peace with our former colonizers, forsaking the luxury of vengeance, whilst defending InI independence and sovereignty without apology. For InI are a peculiar people, a hola nation, a priestly and chosen generation to show forth the praises of the Most High, so that His will be done on earth as it is in Mt Zion. (Peter1 Ch2, Vs 9)
In this critical iwa for mankind the Rastafari star must rise and shine more brightly than ever for Peace and Justice in the global village. The Armageddon is set. The battle-lines are clearly drawn in the sands of the Last Days. With His Imperial Majesty and Empress Menen at the Helm and Nature as our rearguard, the triumph is assured through confidence in the power of Right over Might.
For InI, trade is not simply monetary exchange or increase. It is the centralization of brotherly and sisterly love in moral rectitude, peace and harmony, the cornerstones of enduring wealth and prosperity, the building-blocks and i-verlasting pillars of the i-niverse. One perfect Love.