BURNING SPEAR a matter of Peace
Today a musical journey
I WANT TO TAKE YOU FAR AWAY….
The Rastafari movement:
It’s a matter of Peace Revolution Fighting oppression and MUSIC.
From an early age I was drawn to Reggae music having been drawn to the path by originally through Motown in the early 60 then avant-garde for a white working class boy. Quickly through Bluebeat (Prince Buster), Ska Shing-a-ling then Reggae (Bob Marley) and now Roots and Raga Music
Rasta” Perhaps A most misunderstood SocioReligious Movement .
It is also not one of submission while waiting for the “promised land” but of Resistance to oppression.
Women play their part: Queen Ifrica is a smooth reggae singer and deejay from the hills above Montego Bay Jamaica. She is the daughter of ska music legend Derrick Morgan and her style ranges from the music of protest “Serve and Protect” below v to straight forward “everyday boy meets girl” she performed in Far Away above ^ With her haunting melodies, clear sound and fluid delivery, Queen Ifrica creates timeless Roots Rebel music
Let me introduce you to Rebellion the Recaller who is an artist from Gambia, Africa, who is exciting producers and crowds around the world. Rebellion’s powerful voice combines astonishingly versatile melodies with the rhythms of his profound lyrics into another unique Reggae Rebel style.
The music of this deeply spiritual soul is inspired by a message of understanding, peace and dignity
The Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement encompasses themes such as the spiritual use of cannabis and the rejection of western society, called Babylon (from the metaphorical Babylon of the Christian New Testament).
It proclaims Africa (also “Zion”) as the original birthplace of all mankind, and from the beginning of the movement the call to metaphoric repatriation to Africa has been a central theme.
Jamaican roots reggae singer and musician known for his Rastafari movement messages. BURNING SPEAR named after a military award given by Jomo Kenyatta, the first Prime Minister and President of an independent Kenya
“Rocking Time” Garance Reggae Festival 2011
Rasta also embraces various Afrocentrism and Pan-African social and political aspirations, such as the socio-political views and teachings of Jamaican publicist, organizer, and Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey (also often regarded as a prophet by Rastas)
Rastafari is not a highly organized structured religion; it is a movement and an ideology. “I and I” is used instead of “We”, and is used in this way to emphasize the equality between all people, in the belief that the [Holy] Spirit within all people makes them essentially one and the same….
On the Political front there is much discussion about the “back to Africa Movement” This was to cause no little disagreement between the original Black Panther Party and the Cultural Nationalists like the Non Violent Student co –coordinating committee.
Panthers like Bobby Seal (Book: Seize The Time who I’ve had recent contact), Eldridge Cleaver (Soul on Ice) and Huey P Newton were to have difficulties with this internally.
The Panthers organised social programs that helped destitute African-Americans, feeding poor black and white young children in the community before they headed off to school. They also infamously patrolled the Police as they cruised around in the black and whites with the Panthers in tow with their guns sticking out of the car windows on show.
Tommie Smith (gold), Australian Peter Norman (silver) and American John Carlos (bronze). As the US national anthem the Star Spangled Banner played, both Smith and Carlos, who were already wearing civil rights badges (as was Norman) and black socks without trainers, raised their black glove-clad fists and performed the ‘Black Power’ salute, which at the time wasn’t just associated with support for improved civil rights for African-Americans but with the militant Black Panther Party.
I digressed but one might be interested to know that Reggae owes as much to its existence to the Jamaican community in New York as to Jamaica which at the time of its birth was inclined more to Calypso music with artists like Cy Grant The Blue Beat Label was born in New York.
Some black “Nationalists” even went so far as to have discussions in the 60s with Lincoln Rockwell the US Nazi Party Führer with a view to create a Black State within in the United States. Its was said that Garvey met with prominent KKK members in the 1922 to discuss black being moved back to Africa.
Rasta’s claim believe that they are the real Children of Israel. Rasta reggae is peppered with references to Zion; among the best-known examples are the Bob Marley songs ‘”Zion Train” and “Iron Lion Zion”
History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
Marcus Garvey created the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), represent the largest mass movement in African-American history. Proclaiming a black nationalist “Back to Africa” message, Garvey and the UNIA established 700 branches in thirty-eight states by the early 1920s.
Likewise Rastafari developed among poor Jamaicans of African descent who felt oppressed and that society was apathetic to their problems. Marcus Garvey political leader was driven to making black people economically equal with white and was a keen proponent of the “back to Africa” movement. Though this movement did run into headlong disagreement with the Black Panther movement in the US who opposed the concept of back to Africa but that paradise is not to be Zion but here and now (in case of the Revolutionary Black Panther Civil Rights movement in the US).
Marcus Garvey however had believed that one day on the continent Africa would be crowned a new prophet; and the Bible, served as “the Holy Writ for our Negro Race.” He stated very clearly that “as we pray to Almighty God to save us through his Holy Words so shall we with confidence in ourselves follow the sentiment of the Declaration of Rights and carve our way to liberty.”
Important to note Women do take their part in the Rasta Movement here is Queen Ifrica
For Garvey, it was no less than the will of God for black people to be free to determine their own destiny. The UNIA took as its motto “One God! One Aim! One Destiny!” and looked to the literal fulfillment of Psalm 68:31: “Princes shall come out of Egypt: Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God.”
This was by co-incidence believed to be Haile Selassie I Emperor of Ethiopia born 1892.
Hallie Selassie came to power in a Royal Coup in 1916 and ruled for almost 60 years but after losing favour of the people was overthrown by the Derg a highly educated group of Low Ranking (Communist) Army Officers in 1974.
Mengistu Haile Mariam slowly came to the fore and took over the leadership in 1977 Interestingly Mengistu received Military training in the USA and while there experienced racial discrimination which led him to hold a strong anti-American sentiment…..
Conflict arose in Ethiopia with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which seized power in a US engineered Coup in 1991 …… Though [rigged] elections were held in May 2005 Ethiopia has been under the dictatorship of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who died 2 weeks ago. New elections are not planned until 2015. But I digress from the main point of this article.
Rastafarians:- the Religion
Rastas are monotheists, worshipping God whom they call Jah. Jah is the term in the King James Version of the Bible Psalms 68. Rasta’s see Jah as being in the form of the Holy Trinity,
There are three main groups of Rastafari
“Nyahbinghi are pacifists though a paradox is they are named after Queen Nyahbinghi who took refuge in forests spanning modern Congo, Sudan and Uganda. There in an act of daring and defiance she established a mass guerrilla army who fought against British and German colonialists in the 19th century.
“Bobo Ashanti” who with tightly wrapped turbans around their dreads (Hair). They adhere closely to Jewish Religious Law as they are the true children of Zion and Israel.
The third Group are
“Twelve Tribes of Israel” and the most secular that are able to worship in any church of any denomination not unlike the Bahia of Iran.
The culture does not encourage mainstream political involvement, however in the One Love Peace Concert on April 22, 1978, Peter Tosh ex of the Wailers made political demands including decriminalising cannabis. He did this while smoking a “spliff”, then a criminal act in Jamaica.
Bob Marley led both then-Prime Minister Michael Manley (Peoples National Party) and opposition leader Edward Seaga (Labor Party) onto the stage; and a famous picture was taken with all three of them holding their hands together in a symbolic gesture of peace in what was a very violent election campaign.
One of the UK’s top reggae bands in the 1980s. They were distinctly different from Jamaican reggae acts, in that they wrote songs that dealt with the issues surrounding the experiences of black youths [and white growing-up in the UK.
In one of the numbers you will her a warning about the causes of the events that were to unfold in the London Riots 2011 In this Video recorded in 2010 listen to some sweet Reggae Music very much old style. Listen out for some classic “shing a ling” and “ska”
In 1996, the International Rastafari Development Society was given consultative status by the United Nations:
More Expression through Music
One of the current Rasta exponents is Winston Rodney Burning Spear who incidentally has his own Youth Centre in Jamaica Where the rules are Discipline Respect and Love: I’d like to think mine in London had in 1974 to 1982 embraced the love and tolerance aspect more
Here is a younger Winston Rodney, Burning Spear Paris 1988
“Are we going to work today?”
Derajah and Donkey Jaw Bone:
Derajah an artist from Kingston met the Donkey Jaw Bone band in Paris December 2007 in Paris, while they were on the lookout for an outstanding Jamaican voice.
The band, which has its own studio near from Paris and preserve a Roots Reggae vibe, which is typical of the Golden years of the 70s. In France, roots reggae is – relatively – up and well alive with other better known artists like Alpha Blondie Jamaican foundation artists get the recognition they deserve, and French reggae lovers are working hard to keep the legacy alive. I consider Donkey Jaw Bone One of France‘s finest roots bands.
Finally it’s Midnite:
Of all currently my favourite Reggae Rasta band This band’s music follows in tradition with the roots reggae bands of 1970s Jamaica but with a very heavy contemporary heavy rhythm section. The Drummer is simply amazing and in a 3 and half our set the excerpt is taken from he “don’t” miss a beat. The lyrical portions of Midnite’s compositions are characterized as the “chant and call” style which gives their music a spiritually intense and an overtly Rastafari movement feel.
The lyrics are centrally focused on the plights of the oppressed, the inherent faults of the current political, economic and social settings on a global scale. The band was started by Benjamin brothers Vaughan (vocals) and Ron is always smiling on bass and he organises the set.
This is the except taken 1 hr 20mins into a full 3hrs 17min 11sec set of Roots Rasta Reggae
Peace and Love to all:!! enjoy Smooth Heavy Roots Reggae Groove Live at the Northwest World Reggae Festival 2011.