Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas At the Sharp End

A short story I wrote for my creative writing class a couple of years ago.  Briefly e-published, now available here for free to anyone who wants to read it...

Christmas at the Sharp End

            We started at about three in the afternoon.  We wanted to get the obligatory long-distance phone call to the folks out of the way early enough.  Well, I say phone call, Baz’s brother was technologically savvy enough to have Skype so he was able to make a free call over the internet.  Mine cost me a fortune, but it was good talking to my Ma.

            Me and Barry got up before noon because if we’d got up any earlier on Christmas day it would have been a bit too depressing.  Our flatmate was away with his girlfriend and we were happy enough to be rid of him.  If he had somebody to be with then good luck to him.  Like us, he was a stranger in a strange land, though he was born in this country he was from the other side of it and as much a blow in as myself, from a shitty wee estate in a shitty wee town at the edge of Belfast and Baz, a dirty Dub but a good lad all the same.

            We pottered about the flat with some kid’s Christmas film blaring in the background and generally gave the place a bit of a square round before the other two came.  We knew it was going to get extremely messy later but it didn’t seem cool to just leave it as it was.  We’d no tree but we had a few lights up around the walls.  They were actually there from Halloween and were shaped like pumpkins and Witches Hats but somehow they looked the part.

            I still had half a take-away box of Chicken Noodles from the Christmas-Eve carry out so I nuked them in the microwave and ate them in front of the big widescreen TV we had in the flat.  Not exactly the best Christmas breakfast I’ve ever had but it tasted good and was a bit better than the “meat” pie Barry had in the oven.  We ate our stuff and watched the Bill Murray classic Scrooged.  Great movie, must have seen it dozens of times but it was only that time when I was watching it that I realised that the title of the film was a sort of play on the word “Screwed”.

            About halfway through the film, in the middle of the scene where the guy with the big ugly face that used to be in that American punk band, you know the one Malcom McLaren managed before the ‘Pistols, anyway your man that was doing the cabbie-Ghost-of-Christmas-Past takes Bill Murray back to his childhood, and the door goes.  It’s Aleks, the guy that lives in the bedsitter upstairs.  He’s from some place in one of the nastier countries at the fringes of Europe, bit like ourselves, just the other end of the continent.  We don’t know him too well but we knew he’d be kicking around that flat on his own upstairs being all miserable and killing our buzz if we didn’t have him down here with us.  Besides at least he seems to have got the message about what we were at, he’d brought his own drink for it and his face lit up when he saw we were watching Scrooged.

            “Yes, this is good one, with the Ghost-buster.  You put on Sub-titles?  I read in English better.”

            Normally I can’t stand subtitles they distract me from what’s on screen and every little difference between what comes up and what’s said grates at me, but you know ‘Christmas’ and all that, so I was like; “Aye, why not?”.

            Around the end of the film where Bobcat Goldthwait was chasing Bill Murray around with a shotgun we had another knock at the door.  This time it was Adé.  Adé is one of the Nigerians from work.  He wouldn’t be one of our partyin’ crowd, but he would knock about with me and Barry and our mates in the warehouse, eat his lunch with us.  For some reason he doesn’t get on with the other Nigerians, different tribe or religion or something, same-shit-as-we-get-at-home sort-of-thing, but he’s a good lad and when I explained what we’d be doing he was well up for it.

            As the film died to the strains of that “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” song, I nodded at Barry to get his attention.

            “Anything else on?” I said.  He surfed a bit through the channels.  We didn’t have the best package for ourselves but we had a couple of hundred channels easy.

            “Nuthin’.  Just a laod a Christmas family shoite”.

            “Well” says I, this time to the room in general, “are we havin’ a party here or what?”.

            This pronouncement was met with general applause.  The TV went off and I put on the CD of cheesy electronic covers of Christmas classics I had randomly bought for a laugh a couple of years ago.  To be fair to it, for an impulse buy it had worked out sweet, we played the absolute fuck out of it that first year and it was always on at our Christmas parties now.  Luckily for me the first track, a Euro-Trance version of Silent Night, had a nice slow build-up, which gave me just enough time to do the wee speech I had prepared for the occasion.

            “Well, you boys all know the score.  Wee Christmas party, we all bring our own drink but we all bring a little something we can share with the rest of the group, and since this is my party I’m hoping you boys don’t mind if I go first”.

            Not waiting for a reply, I took the small mirror we had on the fire place off the stand and put it on the table.  I took the bags of white powder out of my pocket and dropped them on the table.

            “That there is three grams of Mephadrome, the very last of the good stuff.”  I opened one of the bags and poured the substance onto the mirror.  “Now you see the way it’s not exactly powder, kind of like big crystals?  That, if you care to remember before last summer, was ‘the good shit’.”  I took out an old store card from a chain of music retailers back home which had long since bit the dust in the credit crunch, the card I kept for these occasions, and began to grind the crystal shards into a fine dust.  “I got a good ounce of this in off the internet before it was banned over here, twenty eight grams, sold a load of it and took a serious load of it myself.”  The powder was now fine enough so I started to chop it up in preparation for doing lines.  “Never made that much off it but hey whatever, kept me partying for a wee while, and now that’s all that’s left.”  I chopped the entire gram into four long thin lines, which I adjusted, then re-cut, then moved a small quantity from one line to the other, then realised I’d overcompensated and mixed them all in together to start over again and repeated the process.  “Could have sold these a long time ago, or cut them and made a wee packet, but I wanted to save them for a special occasion”.

When I was satisfied I stood up and took a step back from the table. 

“Anybody got a note on them?”

Aleks nodded in assent.

“You’re up first then, big-boy.”

Aleks took a nice crisp fresh one from his wallet that he must have just got from a bank-machine and rolled it into a perfect tube.  With a goofy smile on his face he addressed himself to the table, breathed in, let a long slow breath out then went down and hoofed a whole line in one go.

He whinced a little and his eyes watered but his smile burst into a full-on beamer.  “Reminds me of the old country on a fresh day in spring.”

Impressed at his fortitude, I went next.  I somehow came at the line at a weird angle and left a bit, but I got the rest on the next pass.  It stung like a high-dive bellyflop into the most chlorinated pool in the world.  Hits you right between the eyes.  It hurt damn good but I liked it because that’s how you know it’s pure.  I got that heady Meph-rush for the first time in a long time and the ache in my knee died.  Ah its dirty stuff, but I love it and now it’s gone.

Adé went next.  I can only think he didn’t know what we were doing or saw the way we took to it and didn’t know what to expect or something.  He drew in about a third of the line and stood with a look of shock and surprise on his face.  He rubbed the nostril he’d been using in obvious pain and his eyes were bloodshot.

“Woah, easy there big lad” I said, “if you’re not use to it you just take your time with it sure.”

“In old country we say ‘The pain make you strong, is the pain that make it good!’”.  That Aleks, he can be a funny bastard some times.  I don’t believe for a minute that anyone ever actually says stuff like that where he’s from but every time he’s out with us he always finds some way to come out with some crack like that about “Old Country”, usually something completely ridiculous, and it gets me every time.

I took the bottle of clove oil I kept in the place out of the drawer and passed it to Adé.  “Sniff that, it’ll take the edge off”, I says, and it did.

Suitably chastened, Adé picked up the note and went back in for round two with the line.  Took him a few goes but he got there.  Unlike Baz who went straight for it, no note no nothing, just smacked his nose to the glass and snootered the whole thing.

We were all feeling pretty good about ourselves after those lines so we all grabbed another drink and shot the shit for a wee bit.  I did us all some shots out of my bottle of absinthe and Aleks told us all the story of losing his virginity to some wee snow-maiden in his home town back in ‘Old Country’, and near dying of exposure because the only place they could find to do it was outdoors, then nearly dying again when her Da found out and went after him.

 I knew what Barry had for the party, he had managed to get a gram of Ket and some really good green.  All good stuff, especially since Ketamine has been like gold-dust this weather, but more for the inevitable wind down and we had many hours of Christmas to get through before that would be happening.  I asked Adé, “so big lad, what all did you bring for the us?”.

“It is on its way, it will be here around ten tonight.  I’ll get a text message then I’ll go get”.

I didn’t like hearing that because there was always the half chance he was pure going to get in on whatever we’d all brought then be all like “sorry guys, it didn’t come”, but he had a look on him like he knew something we didn’t and he was lovin’ it.  I reckoned there probably was something on its way right enough. He was blatantly bustin’ to tell us but he didn’t want to ruin the surprise.  Anyway, at worst he’d have to buy us all a drink to make it up to us somewhere down the line.  Whatever it was it would have to wait so I asked Aleks for his contribution to the festivities.

This turned out to be a bag of really good ecstasy tablets.  These weren’t the usual crap pills that were going round either.  They were white with blue flecks through them, were slightly bigger than the one’s I’d been seeing recently and had an exclamation mark stamped into them.  God bless him, he didn’t know how many of us there were going to be so he bought ten of them.  We split two into half, then banged one and a half each so we would all have one left for later.  They were tremendous, they hit me like a freight train and had me tripping, which I haven’t done on pills since I was a teenager.

By this time the TV had picked up, Die Hard was on one of the foreign language channels but it was subtitled over English (thank god).  Not that that would have mattered, I must have seen that film about a hundred times or more.  It was one of my favourites when I was a kid, and I could probably act in it by now.  Actually, a badly dubbed Die Hard with us filling in the dialogue might have been good fun but alas it was not to be.

We watched away at Die Hard drank our drinks, polished off another gram of ‘drome in little coke-lines and smoked cigarette after cigarette, enjoying every minute of it.  At about quarter past ten Adés phone went.  By now I was quite curious to see what he had coming fir him.  So he makes his apologies and nips off, then comes back in about 5 minutes.  Instead of bringing a wee bag or a wrap of something, or I dunno like, a bunch of big dudes with sawn-offs to stroke all our stuff and merk the whole lot of us, he brings this girl in.  Pretty wee thing, big heart face and a button nose.  When she took her rain-drenched faux-fur coat off she was wearing black fish nets, black denim hot-pants and a tight sleeveless blouse over a petite but smoking-hot figure.  She also had a shit load of make-up on her face doing a not-very-good job of hiding how young she actually was.  It shows you how naïve I am that I initially assumed she was a stripper but I have to say, I laughed at myself a bit when I realised what was really going on.

“Jesus-hell Adé, you brought a hooker!”

“Yes my friend,” he replied absolutely shameless, “I have her booked for whole evening, we all get to share!”

Now to be fair, I was a wee bit dubious about all this, particularly since I know Adé has a Mrs and a few we-ones at home in Africa, but I thought, well fuck it, if you can’t give your mates a bit of lee-way at Christmas when can you?

I smiled at the girl and chopped her out a line of Meph from the pile and offered it to her.  “Here, love you have a hit of that.”

She gave a shy wee smile back as she went to it, but when she got the line she opened up a bit. 

“Oh, that is very nice, thank you!”, she said leaning over to stroke my knee, “you’re gorgeous, I can’t wait for later when we….”

At that point I took her hand and held it.  “Nah, you’re alright kid, I don’t do girl on girl, tried it once and it didn’t agree with me.  You’re lovely though if I was going to go lez it would definitely be with you.”

“It’s a shame, you’re so sweet and you have such lovely big boobs!”

I took a complete reddener at the compliment.  I supposed I do like, but you don’t notice these things so much, your boobs are pretty much your own boobs and if they’re bigger than the average you don’t see it.  Well not me anyway, I’m more worried that the one on the left is fractionally smaller than the other one, not that I’ve had any complaints mind.

Adé started getting stuck into the girl, Aleks and Baz were having some inane conversation about the European champions league and I was getting pretty lit up by this stage so I sat back on the chair feeling a bit smacked out and watched the window where the rain had turned to snow which was softly falling in light drifts, the flakes picked out in the amber glow of the street lights.  Then, I don’t know if it was all the drugs I had taken up to that point or what but I started feeling a bit, ‘Emotional’.  We were all strangers really and could have all been stuck with only ourselves for company today.  My work visa was coming to an end and I could feel the city lights of Belfast calling me home already.  Maybe I’ll know these guys the rest of my life but there’s a good chance that I’ll never see any of them again after I go, just a random person on Facebook, a tiny face in the corner of the computer screen until such a time as I’m having a red out of old contacts and people I don’t talk to anymore, and then not even that.  But here we all are, together and having a good time.  It might just have been me coming up on the pills but it felt like something more than that, like being happy just to be where I was with these people and full of ‘Christmas Cheer’ for the first time since I was a kid.

I wiped the little tears out of the corners of my eyes, raised my glass, said quietly but audibly to the room in general, to myself, to no-one in particular, “Merry fuckin’ Christmas everybody”.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Cartoons all Revolutionary Socialists should make their kids watch, Part IV Cities of gold

Mysterious Cities of Gold (TV Series, DiC Entertainment and Studio Pierrot 1983)

What it’s about:

The year is 1532 and we are in the midst of the golden age of exploration, or to put it another way, the first period of European colonialist expansion.  In the midst of the Spanish conquest of continental South America three children and three adults set out to find El Dorado, the Mysterious Cities of Gold in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.  They are constantly pursued by Spanish conquistadors, who are also looking for the titular Cities of Gold and get into various adventures along the way.

Why It’s Good:

Out of the various feature length cartoons I have talked about and will talk about in this series on this blog this is probably my all time favourite.  I have fond memories of watching this on BBC children’s television when I was a kid myself.  The way they had a “previously on” and “next week on” at the beginning and end of every episode meant that essentially you got to see everything three times so the complicated episodic plot was relatively easy to follow for me even at that young age.  Then I read about it as a teen and was pleased to find that this old favourite was regarded among Animé fans as a classic and although I couldn’t see it at the time.  Then years later when it was finally released in on DVD 2007/8 after protracted wrangling over the copyright I bought it, watched it again and marvelled at how good it actually was.

In the middle of quite a pumpin’ wee adventure story there are skilfully inserted elements of science fiction (it’s never stated overtly but the advanced technology of the inhabitants of the Cities of Gold at the end of the series include nuclear fission) and historic fiction (real world historic characters are part of the plot and are presented in a way that is easy to understand and gives you some insight into the era).  Also, the little 4 minute mini-documentaries at the end of each episode where the factual real-world elements are explained are very well done and informative.

The animation was ground-breaking at the time and still stands up as a product of the two best cultures as far as animation and sequential art go both then and now, Japan and France.  The music all the way through is pretty immense, the theme music is catchy enough that it’s indelibly lodged in the back of my consciousness as a bridge to that time in my youth, as I'm sure it is many other peoples.  All together, it’s just a nicely done bit of work.

What the young ’uns will hopefully take from it:

Mendoza, brilliantly morally ambiguous 
Well, here’s where it gets interesting.  This is pure “baby’s first anti-imperialism”.  Rather than glorifying the conquest of the new world, as some children’s adventure fiction set in that time will do, the whole process is depicted as a rapacious land grab, a scramble for resources and specifically gold.  The fate of the Incan and Mayans is presented as tragic.  The three children, who are the unambiguous heros of the story, are all native Americans.  The white European characters are all either evil and motivated purely by greed (the conquistador characters) or stupid (Sancho and Pedro, the protagonists comedy sidekicks) and even Mendoza, the children’s adult protector is at best an anti-hero, a rouge who is depicted as being on the children’s side out of enlightened self interest and only comes out as unambiguously heroic in the last couple of episodes.  This is powerful stuff and alongside the factual elements of the story make for quite an education as to what the conquest of the new world actually was.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Cartoons that all revolutionary socialists should make their kids watch, Part III Flight of Dragons

Flight Of Dragons (Animated feature, Rankin Bass 1982)

What its about:

As the age of magic draws gives way to the age of reason, the four Wizard brothers who are the guardians of the realm of enchantment meet to discuss what to do.  Carolinus the Green Wizard (whose domain is nature) argues that if man is to chose logic and reason over magic then the brothers should gather their magic together to create a haven for themselves and all the enchanted creatures in another world, away from the ravages of logic, in a place where they can live on in our imagination to inspire us.  The magic brothers agree to the plan, except for Ommadon The Red, the wizard of darkness and destruction who wishes to use the imagination of mankind and his darkest impulses to drive him towards self destruction, leaving the world free from logic for magic to rule again. So begins a quest to the dark depths of Ommadon’s realm to secure his red crown of power and make sure that his plans don’t come to pass.

Why its Good:

Well, to begin with, for 1980s Rankin Bass the art and animation is unusually good.  The art work on the dragons in particular is wonderfully detailed, showing the film’s origins in a book of illustrations of dragons.  The story is good, the plotting is tight and the quest feels suitably epic.  The voice acting is also brilliant, with James Earl Jones in particular shining as the dark wizard Ommadon with his deep baritone vocals, possibly projecting even more menace than he did as the voice of Darth Vader.  It has many moments of escapism and wonder and a good couple of really dark scenes, Ommadons speech to the wizards council and the Ogre of Gormley Keep’s attack on the Inn both stand out and definitely left a deep impression on me at least.

What the Young ’Uns will hopefully take from it:

One of the basic truths of the world that many people, indeed most adults I know, have trouble getting to grips with is the dialectic between reason and cold hard logic on the one hand, and the imaginative / intuitive / creative mode of thinking on the other.  This “left brain / right brain” divide (actually this has no basis in real physiological terms, but I like it because it’s a handy short hand for describing the relationship between the two) should be central to our way of understanding the world and the mental processes that shape us and it is precisely this that the film tackles as its main thematic material.  In the story Carolinus (who wanted to separate the two spheres) is told by the tree of knowledge to call on a person from our time (who shares a name with the author of the book the film was based on).  He is told to do this because in order to defeat Ommadon, who represents acquisitive self interest and nihilistic cynicism, you need someone with a foot in both worlds who can thereby bridge the gap between the two.  This is a very profound lesson to impart to anyone, especially the young but including the most hardened activists.  Gramsci talked about the mentality of a good Marxist revolutionary as “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”, and surely that’s more or less the same message?  It’s a good lesson and in this instance it is charmingly conveyed in a film that is enjoyable to adults and children.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Cartoons that all revolutionary socialists should make their kids watch, Part II Princess Mononoke

Now for another of my occasional series on how to get your kids into communism using cartoons (see part 1 for my spurious justifications for such actions).

Princess Mononoke (Studio Ghibli, 1997)

What its about:

Princess Mononoke is a modern legend about man’s relationship with the environment as told by one of the greatest story tellers of the age.  Basically, in the middle of the 20th century Japan went from a fairly agrarian / semi feudalistic society to a fully industrialised advanced capitalist economy in an incredibly short space of time.  They went from a green country side still full of the gods and spirits of the Shinto religion to miles of sprawling suburbs and industrial production zones practically over night.  The environmental pollution that inevitably came with it meant that what had been almost unheard of as a problem became a national crisis in a few short years as the Japanese saw their natural environment ravaged by industrial development.  Also, because of the topography of the country a lot of land was too mountainous to be built on, so quite close to the cities you have great towering reminders of everything that was lost.

One of the ways that this has impacted on Japans arts and culture is that environmental considerations have never been far from the imagination of its creative community.  In Ireland we used to say that the Banshee had been driven from the countryside by the electric lighting.  In Japan where this process was much quicker and they still had a much more direct relationship with the gods and spirits of the land it must have seemed like man kind was at war with the spirits.  Princess Mononoke is a story about that war and a parable for modern times about its implications.

Why Its Good:

For starters, the animation is absolutely beautiful.  The colour and detail shine out from every frame, the character design is exquisite and the backgrounds are just as detailed as the foreground.  At the very beginning of the film before anything really happens we see the main character riding his Elk through a wood in the shade of some branches and the way the light is picked out and moves is amazing.  It’s not just at the level of Disney but actually better than anything ever produced in the west.  The plot is well structured and although the characters are essentially mythic archetypes they still feel real and are capable of inspiring real emotion.  Although it doesn’t speak in the entire film, the Elk thing the main character rides has more soul in one of his antlers than all the characters in all the Disney animations in the last 20 years put together.  It is an adventure film and more than satisfies on that level, but it completely runs the gamut of emotions, there is a very touching love story in it and it has moments of genuine horror as well.

What the young ’uns will hopefully take from it:

Well, they should certainly take from it a more balanced and nuanced idea of man kinds position in with regards to the environment than they would from watching Walt Disney’s Bambi or such other schlock with its trite black and white morality or even James Cameron’s Avatar.  It contrasts nature and the natural environment with all its violent and brutal inhumanity and the inevitable forces of civilisation and industry, which are depicted as progressive as well as destructive and motivated by human greed.  Most of all, the message of the film is that hatred and anger are the most destructive forces of all, you can draw on your pit of rage for strength but you never let it consume you.  This is a small lesson that we could all do well to learn, even (indeed especially) those of us on the revolutionary left.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Race, Class and Reasoning. The Formation of the Early Rastafari Movement, 1932-1938

Watching Marley at the QFT with some friends earlier in the week reminded me of this essay I did while I was at Essex. I always had half an idea about getting it published, I may still do, but I like having it on display here for people to read. I think it stands up well, its a little bit dry and academic but for that it reads well and seems fairly understandable. i probably spend a bit too long establishing what Rastafarianism is, i.e. if its a Cult or a religion, IIRC that was all to pad the thing out a little bit as I was short on the word count, but its an interesting question in the abstract so i don't mind keeping those sections in.

Race, Class and Reasoning.  The Formation of the Early Rastafari Movement, 1932-1938

            The journey of the Rastafarian movement on Jamaica from a mistrusted and suspect menace in the 1960s to its eventual conquest of Jamaican identity and dissemination world-wide is one of the most curious stories in 20th century cultural history.  The processes by which this happened, i.e. the “Rasta Revolution through the Arts” and the appropriation of Rasta iconography by the Jamaican mainstream political parties has been well documented elsewhere[1] and are not pertinent to this discussion.  However, by the time that this transition was even possible the Rastafarian movement had come a long way from its beginnings in the late 1930s, emerging from among a number of similar groups.  One of the interesting questions that arises from this transition is what was it about the Rasta movement that enabled it to become so influential in Jamaican culture and civil society to the extent where Rastafarians are completely identified with the Jamaican national character?

To open this discussion we shall first examine conceptual questions concerning the Rastafarian movement.  Firstly, how do we define Rastafarianism?  It has been referred to in the literature as variously a religion and a cult.  But how satisfactory these categories are is open to question.  The Rastafari themselves, would not concur with such designations, as they are notoriously derisive of what they call “isms and schisms” and most sympathetic commentators are happy to go along with them[2].  Still, rather than debate the matter in these terms it may be more prudent to look at what these definitions can contribute to the study of Rastafarianism from a sociological perspective.   To begin with, one needs to look at what definitions of cult and religion are, and sociological concepts can be useful in examining these issues as they can  inform the discussion of this particular form of religious phenomena.

On one level Rastafarianism does satisfy many of the basic criteria of a religion.  It is a system of metaphysical beliefs that are “a set of coherent answers to… core existential questions”, codified into “a creedal form that has significance for it’s adherents”[3].  Or, to take another definition, it can also be described as a human enterprise by which a particular sacred cosmos is established[4].  Nonetheless, for the period under investigation, it would appear that most of the interpretative approaches that follow on from these models in the sociology of religion can be dismissed out of hand.  Models such as those discussed above, and others such as Geertz’s semiotic-based 5 point model[5] tend to assume a mature religion integrated into the fabric of a society, to the extent that it is integral to it.  Rastafarianism was in the period under investigation, and to some degree, remains outside of society and diametrically opposed to it.

Another body of literature within the discipline of sociology of religion that is more useful is the study of New Religious Movements (NRMs).  This branch of sociology developed from the study of cults, indeed the term “NRM” is meant to supersede that of “cult” due to its pejorative implications and the assumptions of secrecy and mental manipulation that were inappropriate to some groups under consideration[6] (and quite inappropriate to the Rastafari).  What they do provide are a number of detailed conceptual frameworks for the origins of religions and religious movements.  While these models have been useful, and have informed much of what is to follow, they are also not without their problems when applied to the study of the Rastafari.  The organisations in the sociological  studies which have typically informed such models, such as the Church of Scientology or the Society for Krishna-Consciousness, are usually contemporaneous i.e. post world war two, and occurring against a background of a modern secularising society.  The questions they are supposed to answer, such as how can apparently rational “modern” people be attracted to backwards-seeming spirituality and organisations, just do not appear to have any application in the context of Jamaica in the period under consideration.  If we wonder how the seeds of religious movements can take root in the barren soil of western culture, then Jamaica by contrast would be a fertile field with many seeds finding their way their on the winds of the Harlem renaissance, to bloom under the hot Caribbean sun.

Aside from these specific objections, there is a more basic objection to the idea of Rastafarianism as a Religion, Cult or NRM.  This is the basic openness of Rastafari.  The Rasta faith exists without formal power structures or set rituals or devotions.  Here are a few basic rules but there are no authorities to enforce them, or inflict penalties.  There have been leaders, usually based on seniority, but again these are informal.  There are texts that Rastas consider to be canonical, but the extent to which they are studied or followed is down to the individual.  Philosophical and theological discourse is never set or finished among Rastafari, but rather ideas are there to be continuously examined, contested and re-made in what are known as “reasoning” sessions[7].  Instead of formal ritual devotions there are irregular “groundations” all-night sessions of reasoning, drumming, feasting, “speechifying”, and chanting[8].  The entire system is individually enforced and self-sustaining, a, “state of consciousness” as much as a system of beliefs[9].  In fact it is quite tempting to conclude that, Rastafarianism resembles nothing less than an African “Stateless Society” akin to the Igbo in West Africa (modern Nigeria), or the Kikuyu in East Africa (Kenya).

Moreover, it could be interpreted that this essentially anarchic structure and open-ended discourse that spares it from categorisation as either a religion or a cult that I feel is the crucial factor in the rise of Rastafarianism.  It is this open-endedness that allowed Rastafarianism to absorb cultural and intellectual currents (religious and political) already present in Jamaica, as well as draw on much older traditions and novel developments as they occurred.

The most basic principle of the movement, virtually the sole article of faith, is the belief that Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia was the living Messiah of the Black race who would at some point create the conditions whereby the black peoples of the new world would return to Africa.  On the surface it would appear that, like other religious movements that had preceded it such as Bedwardism, Rastafarianism was a millenarian movement in the tradition of the Ethiopianist church.  The period in which the Rastafari movement emerged has been noted to be a time of a marked revival in Ethiopianism.  In the King James Bible, the word “Ethiopia” referred to Africa, consequently since the eighteenth century black Christian churches in the New World tended to use the word Ethiopia in their titles.  By the end of the nineteenth century Ethiopia was the last remaining black nation that hadn’t fallen to the onslaught of the European’s ‘Scramble for Africa’ after having decisively defeated an Italian raiding force at the Battle of Adowa.  After a short and seemingly easy conquest of more than three quarters of the continent had been over-run between 1884 and 1900, thanks to European technology, to see Africans fighting back and winning made Ethiopianism into a Pan-Africanism in the early twentieth century[10].  When Negus Tafari Makonnen was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia, the event was covered by the world’s media, including a famous piece in National Geographic in 1931, shades of which can be seen in the Rasta holy text The Promised Key[11].  For the first time a positive image of African Negros, complete with colour photography to showcase the lavish costumes of the coronation ceremony, were available to a black public.

Concurrent with the portentous significance of Selassie’s accession to the throne of Ethiopia was the prevailing economic situation in Jamaica.  As in much of the rest of the world, the Great Depression of the 1930s had created an atmosphere of general unrest, dislocation and confrontation, which the revived Ethiopianism both thrived on and contributed to[12].  As well manifesting itself, in a fashion typical for the period, as a Caribbean wide series of strikes and other labour disputes[13], the popular mood of class antagonism also exhibited itself in the upper levels of Jamaican society in speculation among elite circles about putting legal restrictions on ‘Revivalism’ or ‘Shakerism’[14].  There were even articles in the bourgeois press mooting the possibility of the Ethiopianist revival leading to a, “Black war in Jamaica”[15].  Although the Rastafari themselves did not directly participate in the labour struggle on Jamaica in 1938 (and particularly in their common articulation of discontent with the colonial administration), they can both be seen as indicative an emerging national consciousness across the Caribbean.

Ethiopianism and other Christian[16] traditions were part of the tapestry of Rastafarianism and informed how people received its message[17].  What Rastafarianism had that distinguished it from both earlier movements and other expressions of Ethiopianist revival was that it was informed by a western radical political sensibility, mediated by the early North American black power movement, and specifically the politics of Marcus Josiah Garvey.

Garveyism had been formed in the political hotbed of New York’s immigrant communities.  Influenced by the radical politics of liberalism, nationalism (including Irish nationalism, from which he appears to have actively supported and learned from[18]) and Zionism, among others[19], he formulated a radical black politics based on an inverted racial order (Black > White, dark > light), the return of the black peoples of the Americas to Africa and the general improvement of the lot of the Black peoples of the earth.  He also founded an international organisation to carry out his political programme this was UNIA – The United Negro Improvement Association.

The most enduring cultural legacy of UNIA, which the Rastafari in particular were able to capitalise on, was the exorcism of the legacy of shame at their own physical form.  Even though slavery, had been abolished relatively early on Jamaica – 1834 – in the following century little had happened to loosen the psychological shackles of racism on which the system depended.  As recently as the Bedwardist movement of the 1890s-1920s the leadership preached that their skin colour would be changed to white on their ascent to heaven, while the follower of the movement, typically members of the black underclass, prayed to God to wash them “white as snow”[20].  By inverting racial categorisations Garvey re-awakened the black person’s sense of themselves and as his ideas were disseminated in print form throughout the Black Atlantic he initiated a revolution in the mentality of that generation of black people.

There is also a very direct sense in which we can see Rastafarianism as a continuation of Garveyism.  At the accession of Ras Tafari to the throne of Ethiopia[21] Garvey wrote an article for his The Blackman welcoming the new emperor, who was then the only Black leader to sit at the head of an independent state in all of Africa.  Typically of a UNIA publication, he reports that the Emperor is “ready and willing to extend the hand of invitation to any Negro who desires in his kingdom”[22].  What's more in the oft-quoted final paragraph he evoked the Biblical scriptures[23] in calling for the support of, “us as the Negro race to assist in every way…Emperor Ras Tafari[24]”.  For a deeply religious people, absorbed in a protestant bible reading culture, it was only a short leap from an evocative reference to scriptural prophecy to a direct reading of the event described as the actual fulfilment of that prophecy.

The status of UNIA as a religious movement is contested in some quarters[25], we can say that it was imbedded in a black culture that was deeply religious and had many organisational forms that were consciously or unconsciously religious.  Indeed some[26] have gone so far as to describe it as an attempt to create a black civil religion.  One of the points emphasised in the Entrepreneur Model of Cult Innovation proposed by Bainbridge and Stark[27] is that the cult leader (or in this model entrepreneur) will have gained skills and experience through contact with an earlier successful cult organisation, thus creating lineages between organisations.  This actually provides us with some insights into the character of the founder of the Rastafari, Leonard Howell that is unfortunately absent from the source record[28] and indicates the sort of relationship that exists between UNIA and Rastafarianism.  Like Garvey before him, Howell emigrated, via Panama to the Harlem of the Jazz age and the Harlem renaissance[29].  He had been a member of UNIA in the period he lived there, and was quite active in the movement.  He was well enough known to Garvey to lunch with him shortly after his return to Jamaica.  There has been some suggestion that he knew Garvey personally and that the two were good friends[30], however this is based on the recollection of an elderly relative of Howell’s who was obviously quite enamoured with him at the time so its hard to say how credible this account of the encounter is.  Another version of the meeting[31] has Howell going to visit Garvey to request that he be allowed to distribute his 1 Shilling pictures of Haile Selassie at or around UNIA meetings on the island, which Garvey refused.

One of the other models proposed by Bainbridge and Stark, the Sub-Culture evolution model of cult innovation, contains another point that also illuminates some of the complex relationship between Garveyism and Rastafari.  Point 3 of the model is that religious movements “are the result of side-tracked or failed attempts to obtain scarce or non-existent rewards”[32].  Taking this as our point of departure we can see that the Rastafari movement emerged contemporaneously with the failure and decline of UNIA and the Garveyist project and its promise of bettering the lot of the poor Blacks of Jamaica.  The black star shipping line, which was intended to transport the Black peoples of the Americas back to Africa, had ended in a financial shambles in 1922, and Garvey himself had been deported to Jamaica just a few years before Howell himself arrived there, possibly under simmilar circumstances[33]

In a sense, Rastafarianism flourished against the background of the failure of the institutions of the Garveyist project in Jamaica to connect to the rural poor and the working class in a meaningful way.  Though itself a deeply religious movement[34], given to biblical references in its speeches and literature, Garveyism was deeply contemptuous of Rastafarians.  It seems that while Garvey and his movement were all for reversing the western assumptions of an ordering of racial superiority based on skin colour they shared western assumptions about the superiority of western cultural forms.  For instance Garvey famously organised a concert of classical music for a black audience in Edelweiss park to make the point that poor black Jamaicans could appreciate western high culture just as well as anyone else.  Ironically it seems that what the Jamaican Garveyists found abhorrent in the Rastafari were the aspects most in opposition to white cultural hegemony, the use of the “dangerous weed”[35] Ganja, the peculiar (possibly heretical) interpretation of Christianity and the divinity of Haile Selassie etc.

Part of the reason for the estrangement of these two, seemingly mutually complimentary groups, was of course the class basis of the movements.  Whereas the Rastas at that time were mainly from the rural peasantry and the urban underclass, the UNIA organisation on Jamaica was mainly composed of an urban working class in its rank and file and it’s leadership if not from the petit bourgeoisie then at least aspiring to that level of respectability.  In 1934 the Kingston UNIA convention denounced, “new cults that were entirely contradictory to the true religion”[36].  It seems that this wasn’t the first time one of Howell’s projects had fallen foul of UNIA’s cultural bigotry.  In Harlem he had been running a “tea room” which had been “declared against” by UNIA, possibly because he was serving beverages based on traditional Jamaican herbal medicine that would have contained ganja, which had been used on Jamaica in that capacity for centuries.  It was even implied that he was an Obeah-man,[37] a practitioner of an (apparently non-existent) African black magic, Obeah, that has the same position in Jamaican culture as Satanism had in European before the industrial revolution. 

The significance of all this is two fold.  To begin with, it indicates an un-bridgeable cultural gap between the Garveyists and the Jamaican peasantry who they were trying to reach.  It also marks a difference between the open-ended Rasta discourse and the more closed dogma of Garveyism which it was able to absorb, and points to why Garveyism as a political movement is extinct while Rastafari continues to attract followers right into the present day.  While the reverse racial series of racial categorisation should have favoured the black working class, lightness of skin colour and straightness of hair, indicating some white ancestry being a mark of class difference and class identity on Jamaica as elsewhere in the Caribbean.  In practice UNIA came to be the articulation of the grievances of middle class blacks who despite being near the top of the class hierarchy in their own communities, still could not reach the level of obtaining the benefits of capitalist society relative to their station as they were held back by the colour of their skin from obtaining the level of whites within the capitalist system who were basically doing the same occupation as they were[38].  The ideology of Garveyism implicitly accepted the system of capitalist economic relations and sought to make accommodation within it for black people, which is why it could not accommodate those for whom the capitalist system itself was the problem.  On the other hand the Rastafari, with their open discourses, were able to adopt a critique of the capitalist system and fuse it with Garveyism and other traditions to create an outlook that would make sense of this and reject the system of capitalism and so articulate the racial and social grievances of the Black underclass.  The Anthropologist George Eaton Simpson in his early visits to Kingston in 1953 to investigate the movement, saw at first hand this deeply rooted resentment of racial and economic grievances articulated at Rasta meetings[39].

Another surprising source of symbolism that Howell and the other early Rastas were able to draw on was that of British colonial culture.  As a holding in the British Empire, the state, education system and much of the rest of civic culture[40] was predicated on the iconography of the British monarch as the head of state.  Also, through the Anglican Church, the monarch held a quasi-religious status as head of the State religion.  Against a background of growing Black racial consciousness, it was then only a logical step to substitute one foreign monarch living on the other side of the Atlantic with another with whom they could more readily identify and give allegiance.  This theme was quite evident in Howell’s early sermons.  According to the Jamaican police files dating to early 1933[41] Howell would begin by stating that “The Lion of Judah has broken the chain…George V is no longer our king, Ras Tafari is King of Kings, Lord of Lords”[42].  He then went on to invoke the old colonial idea of the distant Monarch as the protector from local oppression by telling his congregation that “If anyone has any grievance, he must write to Ras Tafari, King of Kings[43]”.  The he would end with the National anthem, god save the King, but of course not for George V but for the new king in Ethiopia[44].

In the sermon sketched out above we can see how the symbolism and pomp relating to the person of the monarch, on which the British Colonial system relied, was subverted.  We can also see this in how Howell emphasised and interpreted the presence and actions of Henry Duke of Gloucester at the Coronation of Haile Sellasie.  In his religious tract, The Promised Key he gives the presence of the son of the King a tremendous occult significance, claiming that he had gifted Tafari a golden sceptre and pledged in the kings name that he would “Serve him to the end” and calling him “master”[45].  Thus in the accepted language of monarchical symbolism and deference, handing the power to the new king.  Monarchical powers, like Religion, operate on a symbolic level and are often given equal credence.  As one historian points out,  “the legitimacy of the British crown as the constitutional power on Jamaica was of great concern to Rastafarians”[46].  Indeed, events surrounding the British Monarchy were followed and used by Rastafarian leaders and ideologues to further prove the legitimacy of Haile Selassie I.  During the abdication crisis of 1936 for example, Robert Hinds would argue that since the new King George VI had not been properly crowned the British Empire no longer had a king at all.

An example of how the Rastafari discourse was able to absorb novel developments was the phenomenon of Nya-binghi.  It is of particular interest as it shows how the Rastafari could absorb the negative media portrayal of international events that were specifically targeted at causing the movement harm.  The origins of Nya-binghi lie in an article in the Jamican Times, which reproduces a sensational account of a far-reaching murderous international black conspiracy, with Haile Selassie at its head.  The article itself is fascinating as an artefact of Racist propaganda, undoubtedly concocted by the Italians Fascists to provide a spurious popular justification for their quite unpopular invasion and annexation of Ethiopia.  It can also be read as part of a wider literature of conspiracies, along side texts like the infamous, “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.  It draws on traditional racial tropes of African savagery, anti-communism (with its allusions to an international congress in Moscow) and a reactionary paranoia against the rising in black consciousness and the immigration of blacks into western cities.  A telling phrase in this respect is the author’s assertion that, “Hitherto…the stupidity of primitive peoples prevented such an amalgamation”[47].

The article, picked up by The Jamaican Times from the international press[48], was clearly intended to discredit the person of Selassie and was deployed by the paper as an attack on the Rastafari, but to the Rastas themselves it had the effect of confirming their faith at a time when, as a movement, they were under considerable pressure (physical and ideological).  The section about the nefarious hordes of the Nyabinghi, whose eyes gleam at the word “Negus”, and worship him as the Messiah of the coloured people[49], might almost have been written about Jamaicas own Ethiopianists.  Many Rastafari found the idea appealing and began to identify themselves as Nya-Binghi or Nyah-men. This was after all the period, after the Italian invasion of Ethiopia when the Italian military machine, complete with tanks, aeroplanes and mustard gas, did what a previous generation of Italians had failed to do and defeated the modernised Ethiopian armed forces and captured Addis Ababa.  Selassie was living as a Monarch-in-exile.  Even Marcus Garvey, had bitterly condemned Haile Selassie for failing to repel the Italian invasion in an editorial for The Blackman[50], which contributed to the falling away of interest in the movement among most sections of Jamaican society (with the possible exception of the rural underclass)[51].  The thought of Selassie at the head of a secret order of 190,000,000 was heartening to the Rastafari.  Some actually went so far as to embellish the conspiracy into Selassie having a huge secret inland navy with which to repel the invaders[52].  “Nya-Binghi”, which was (erroneously[53]) given by the article to mean, “Death to the Whites”, struck a similar cord then to that which, “Kill Whitey”, would three decades later.

The essentially anarchic structure of Rastafari discourse and society came into existence as a result of the historical process that drew it together and the events of the early movement.  If it is a small wonder that Garvey’s biblical allusion would be taken literally by a proportion of readers, then we shouldn’t be at all surprised that several people emerged independently of each other at around the same time preaching exactly this message.  By the time Leonard Howell arrived on Jamaica, Archibald Dunkley, another migrant labourer from Jamaica, had been studying the King James Bible, inspired by Garvey’s “Prophecy” and had come to the conclusion that Haile Selassie was the Son of God, (though not the father himself[54]).

As well as developing in isolation, Rastafari was often received in isolation from the controling influence of those preaching the cause.  Much of the dissemination of the Rastafari message was done through the media.  As we have already seen in the case of the Nyah-Binghis or the National Geographic article on Haile Selassie I’s coronation, the print media was crucial in the spread of Rasta ideas.  While a typical large meeting may have only a few dozen people in attendance[55], press coverage of Leonard Howell’s trial in 1934 would have been across the entire island in a few hours thanks to the extensive coverage given to it by the Jamaican Gleaner[56] in three consecutive reports, and like the aforementioned, were among the formative texts of the movement. Again there is nothing surprising about this considering that before this was before the general availability of radios on the island in the late 1950s[57], when the majority of Jamaican cultural consumption was based on cheap printed materials.

Another factor in the development of the Rastafari was that the leaders were under constant police pressure and were often arrested and imprisoned.  This had the effect of regularly decapitating the various threads in the movement at important junctures in its development.  That the movement was given to periodic organisational dormancy, for example during Leonard Howell’s first period of imprisonment from 1934-1936, meant that the membership was forced back onto their own skills of reasoning.

The regular pruning of the Rasta leaders by the forces of officialdom also meant that the movement was always disparate and never fell entirely under the sway of any one individual.  While Howell was the most important of the leaders of the early movement, his lieutenant Hinds had a large following of over 800 people at his King of Kings mission[58].  While Howell’s communal settlement at The Pinnacle in the hills near Sligoville, at its height, could boast a population of 18-1600 men, women and children[59], the Rasta communities in Kingston were also of great significance to the development of the movement. 

The actions of the authorities were in an odd sense actually helpful to the movement in that they de-railed the process of cult formation[60] and ameliorated or at least delayed some of the negative behavioural phenomena associated with New Religious Movements.  Left relatively unmolested, as The Pinnacle was between the end of Howell’s second imprisonment in 1946 and the last major police raid on The Pinnacle in 1954, Howell’s gathering took on some of the more unpleasant characteristics of more recent NRMs, “communal” un-paid labour, sexual exploitation of women and eccentric megalomanical conduct by the leader[61].  It’s interesting to note in light of this that after Howell was released from being imprisoned after the 1954 raid few of the Rastafari looked to him for leadership and he effectively dropped out of the Rasta-consciousness for the remaining two decades of his life, while the movement grew beyond its founding generation towards what we would recognise as Rastafarianism today.

So in conclusion, one thing I hope to have avoided thus far is giving the impression that there was some necessary teleological relationship between the early movement and what it would eventually become.  Rather than positing a straight whiggish theory of Rastafari development where phenomena A leads inexorably through process B to end up at point C, which is world domination, what I hope to have shown is more generally that for all its adaptation of ancient spirituality, Rastafarianism is a product of the modern world and that some of the elements of modernity that led to its tremendous success were there from the beginning.  In an example of global transculturation, just as the international media culture would be a major formative influence on the formation of the Rastafari, so the same international media would be the means by which its message would achieve worldwide transmission.  It is significant of the inherent modernity of Rastafarianism that, while retaining the communal aspect of traditional Afro-Caribbean forms of spirituality, the Rastafari actively rejected more atavistic forms of worship (e.g. the totem worship and spirit possessions found in Pukkamina, Vodun or Candomble) in favour of an interrogative relationship between the individual and the holy texts and open-ended discursive analysis.  The music of the Rasta movement, which is without doubt its greatest asset, was developed because of a modern sense of individuality and innovation, as much as a rootedness in traditional musical cultures.  It is the tension between these twin aspects of Rastafarianism, the ancient and the modern, that allowed it to blossom onto the world stage when given the opportunity by the rise of Reggae in popular culture across the world later in the century.



E.A. Wallace Budge (trans.) Kebra Nagast (1932,

Marcus Garvey, Editorial "THE FAILURE OF HAILE SELASSIE AS EMPEROR" The Black Man - London, March/April 1937 (

The Rt. Hon. Leonard Percival Howell, The Promised Key (1935,

Fitz Balintine Pettersburg, The Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy (1926

Robert Athlyi Rogers, The Holy Piby (1928

The Jamaican Gleaner online archive. (


Leonard E. Barrett Sr., The Rastafarians (Boston; Beacon Press, 1977)

Randal K. Burkett, Garveyism as a religious movement (Scarecrow Press; Metuchen, 1978)

Lloyd Bradley, Bass Culture; When Reggae Was King (Penguin; London, 2001)

Barry Chevannes, Rastafari: Roots and Ideology (Syracuse University Press; New York, 1994)

David T. Courtwright, Forces of habit: drugs and the making of the modern world (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001)

Lorne L. Dawson (ed.), Cults and New Religious Movements, A Reader (Oxford; Blackwell, 2003)
                -Roy Wallace ‘Three Types of New Religious movement’
-William Simms Bainbridge and Rodney Stark ‘Cult Formation; Three Compatible Models’

Ennis Barrington Edmonds, Rastafari: From Outcasts to Culture Bearers (OUP; Oxford, 2003)

Robert Hill, ‘Leonard P. Howell and Millenarian visions in Early Rastafarianism’ Jamaica Journal (February, 1983) pp24-39

Nelson W. Keith and Novella Z. Keith, The Social Origins of Democratic Socialism in Jamaica (Temple University Press, 1992)

Stephen A. King Reggae Rastafari and the rhetoric of social control (University Press of Mississippi; Jackson, 2002)

Helene Lee, The First Rasta: Leonard Howell and the Rise of Rastafarianism (Chicago Review Press; Chicago, 2005)

G, Llewllyn Watson, ‘Patterns of Black Protest in Jamaica: The case of Rastafarians’ Journal of Black Studies Vol.4 No.3 (March, 1974), pp. 329-343

Samuel N. Murrell (ed.) Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader (Temple University: 1998)
                -B. Chevannes, ‘Rastafari as the Exorcism of the Ideology of racism and classism’  pp55-71
                - E.B. Edmonds, ‘The Structure and Ethos of Rastafari’ pp349-360
                -R. Lewis, ‘Marcus Garvey and the early Rastafarians’ pp145-158
-G. E. Simpson, ‘Personal reflections on Rastafari in West Kingston in the early 1950s’ pp217-230
-William David Spencer, ‘The First Chant: Leonard Howell’s The Promised Key with commentary by William David Spencer’ pp361-389

Velma Pollard, Dread talk: The Language of Rastafari (Kingston; Canoe Press, 1994)

Ken Post, Arise Ye Starvlings; The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 (Martinus Nijhoff; The Hauge, 1978)

William J. Rolston, ‘Bringing it all Back Home: Irish Emigration and RacismRace and Class, (October 2003) pp39-53

P. Sherlock and H. Bennett, The Story of the Jamaican People (Marcus Wiener inc.; New Jersey, 1998)

George Eaton Simpson, ‘Religion and Justice: Some Reflections on the Rastafari Movement’ Phylon (1960-) > Vol. 46, No. 4 (4th Qtr., 1985), pp. 286-291

Bryan Turner, Religion and Social Theory (Humanities Press; London, 1983)

Frank Van Dijk, Jahmaica: Rastafari and Jamaican Society 1930-1990 (ISOR; Utrecht, 1993)

Anita M. Waters Race Class and Political Symbols; Reggae and Rastafari in Jamaican Politics (Transaction Publishers: New Jersey, 1989)

[1] Eg. S. A. King Reggae Rastafari and the rhetoric of social control, A. M. Waters Race Class and Political Symbols; Reggae and Rastafari in Jamaican Politics, (on the use of Rastafari in the political sphere) and E. B. Edmonds, Rastafari: From Outcasts to Culture Bearers
[2] E.g. L. Bradley Bass Culture; When Reggae was King pp77 & Helene Lee, The First Rasta: Leonard Howell and the Rise of Rastafarianism pp5
[3] D. Bell, quoted in B. Turner Religion and Social Theory pp244
[4] P.L. Berger, quoted in B. Turner pp244
[5] C. Geertz, quoted in B. Turner pp244
[6] L.L. Dawson, Cults and New Religious Movements, A Reader pp5-6
[7] E.B. Edmonds, ‘The Structure and Ethos of Rastafari’ in, in Samuel N. Murrell (ed.) Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader, pp353-4
[8] Ibid., pp355
[9] K. Post, Arise Ye Starvlings; The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 pp165
[10] R. Hill, ‘Leonard P. Howell and Millenarian visions in Early Rastafarianism’ Jamaica Journal (February, 1983), pp28
[11] W. D. Spencer, ‘The First Chant: Leonard Howell’s The Promised Key with commentary by William David Spencer’ in Samuel N. Murrell (ed.) Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader, pp365
[12] K. Post, pp379
[13] P. Sherlock and H. Bennett The Story of the Jamaican People pp364
[14] R. Hill, pp30
[15] Ibid., pp34
[16] And specifically protestant.
[17] R. Hill, pp26
[18] W. J. Rolston, ‘Bringing it all Back Home: Irish Emigration and RacismRace and Class, (October 2003),  pp 49-50
[19] P. Sherlock and H. Bennett, pp299
[20] B. Chevannes, pp57
[21] When he would take the name Haile Selassie I
[22] M. Garvey, The Blackman 30/11/1930 Quoted in Lewis pp145
[23] Specifically Psalm 68:31 “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God”.
[24] M. Garvey, The Blackman 30/11/1930 Quoted in Lewis pp146
[25] R. K. Burkett, pp2
[26] Justifiably in my opinion,
[27] W.S. Bainbridge & R. Stark, pp63-4
[28] See for example the chapter in H. Lee about Howell’s life in New York and the almost complete absence of any records relating to him – ‘Harlem’ pp27-36
[29] H. Lee, pp30-34
[30] Ibid., pp47
[31] F. Van Dijk, pp85
[32] W.S. Bainbridge & R. Stark, pp67
[33] H. Lee, pp36
[34] R. K. Burkett, pp1-44 & pp195-6
[35] M. Garvey, Editorial “The dangerous Weed”, New Jamaican, 13/10/1932  Quoted in R. Lewis pp152
[36] H. Lee, pp47
[37] Ibid., pp32
[38] K. Post, pp206
[39] G. E. Simpson, pp219
[40] Including youth organisations like the Boys Brigade.
[41] As quoted in H. Lee, pp63-67
[42] Ibid., pp64
[43] Ibid., pp65
[44] Ibid., pp65
[45] L.P. Howell,
[46] F. Van Dijk, pp96
[47] Ibid, pp95
[48] H. Lee, pp92
[49] F. Van Dijk, pp95
[51] K. Post, pp191
[52] R. Hill, pp38.
[53] H. Lee, pp92
[54] K. Post, pp164
[55] F. Van Dijk, pp93
[56] H. Lee, pp71
[57] L. Bradley, pp90-91
[58] B. Chevannes, Rastafari: Roots and Ideology pp127
[59] F. Van Dijk, pp98
[60] W.S. Bainbridge & R. Stark, pp67
[61] See the accounts in B. Chevannes, Roots and Ideology, pp122-124 & F. Van Dijk, pp98-104