The All Africa Rastafari Gathering in Shashemene, Ethiopia 1-7 November was an unqualified success.
Whereas previous international conferences dating back to the early 1980s had been dogged by disruption, confrontation and disputes among delegates, the Shashemene gathering carried through without major incident, completing its stated agenda and final resolutions in an atmosphere of peaceful consensus and agreement.
Attending delegates exceeded expected numbers, totaling in advance of 100 participants from global constituencies of Rastafari. Continental representatives were in the majority, South Africa being by far the largest contingent. The UK was another major contributor in terms of numbers.
Due credit must be given to the Organizing team in Ethiopia, comprising several eminent Empresses who stage-managed proceedings superbly. Indeed the overall balance of Kings and Queens attending reflected a level of maturity in the Nation and signaled a new phase of arrival for the movement. Credit must also be given to the Shashemene community for hosting the gathering, with all Houses and individuals on the Land providing a warm welcome to incoming visitors. A significant quota of youth activists added to the historic occasion, setting a benchmark for future Rastafari conventions.
Nightly Binghi sessions at the Shashe Tabernacle were supplemented by daily presentations, w/shops, tours and visits to local places of interest. On Saturday 4th November the Conference was officially opened at the Rastafari-owned Lily of the Valley Hotel, the central venue for 4 days of intense discussions focusing on trade, citizenship and repatriation.
Live musical performances at the 12 Tribes HQ, Roots sound-systems and a lively trade bazaar added to the variety of events on offer. Impromptu exchanges and vibrant reasoning among delegates were constantly enjoined outside of the set program for the 7-day gathering.
Shashemene is now a bustling township with the three-seater ‘bajaj’ taxis, plying a roaring trade for residents and visitors alike. The Rastafari gathering lit up the locality, providing much-needed income for hotels, restaurants and businesses in this famed area of rural Ethiopia. At long last the fortunes of this Rastafari outpost in Africa have taken a quantum leap forward in the 21st century. It is proposed that the Shashemene conference be instituted as an annual event. A momentous and overdue paradigm shift from Pinnacle to Shashemene, from the Carry Beyond to the Promised Land, is taking place. The trend of destiny cannot be resisted or reversed. As one speaker said, InI must get used to the notion of victory, and in so doing embrace our divine heritage. An overarching rainbow links the Diaspora to a prophetic Destiny in Ethiopia, inspiring the resurgence of African unity in today’s world.
Ras Shango Baku