Rasta and Resistance : From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney

Rasta and Resistance : From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney

by Horace Campbell

Hardcover(1st American ed)


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Rasta and Resistance : From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney by Horace Campbell

Rasta and Resistance is a study of the Rastafarian Movement in all its manifestations, from its evolution in the hills of Jamaica to its present manifestations in the streets of Birmingham and the Shashamane Settlement in Ethiopia. It traces the cultural, political and spiritual sources of this movement of resistance, highlighting the quest for change among an oppressed people. This book serves to break the intellectual traditions which placed the stamp of millenarianism on Rasta.

Absence of a political enquiry into the Rastafari of the Caribbean has always been an uncomfortable gap in the record of the Caribbean revolution. Now Horace Campbell has bade a big step towards the filling of that gap. This is not to suggest that Caribbean writers and thinkers (we should not confuse the two groups) have not done much investigation of the Rastafari way of life with all the clarity and depth which their areas of investigation permitted them; some have also ventured into the political dominion.

Cambell has many of the qualifications for the task he has undertaken. He has been struggling for some years to apply the scientific theory of society to the reality of African and Caribbean politics, and in the process has avoided the creation of false gods.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780865430341
Publisher: Africa World Press
Publication date: 04/01/1987
Edition description: 1st American ed
Pages: 240

Read an Excerpt

Walter Rodney's ban from the gullies of Kingston was one of more indication of the lenghts to which the state would go to stifle the development of ideas of race consciousness. This fear of the color question was evident at the time of the formation o Millard Johnson's People's Political Party, when both the PNP and the JLP has sunk their differences to launch an attack on PPP. The General Secretary of PNP prepared a special paper on the dangers of the PPP, while the white overlords founded a movement for a 'Better Jamaica' and encouraged an interest in 'Moral Rearmament'. Brother Sam Browne, one of the articulate leaders of the movement, had for a short while flirted with idea of electoral politics, but this form of political participation and expression did not advance the cause of the poor, for they did not have the resources to compete with the capitalists.

The development of reggae music and its circulation was part of a deliberate effort by the Rastafarians to present their message to the wider Jamaican community and to the black world. The transition from rock steady to reggae was, like the transition from ska to rock steady, an imperceptible process which was both a response to and a reflection of the changing social conditions of the society. Where rock steady had the legacy of singing the sex and romance songs of Jackie Opel and Lord Creator, reggae laid emphasis on Africa, black deliverance and redemption.

This emphasis in the lyrics was combined with a bass line and drumming which harked back to the conditions of slavery. Count Ossie's ensemble, the Mystic Revelations of Rastafari, was at one end of a thrust of Rasta chants, while the bass guitar of Aston Barret and Robbie Shakespeare was at the other end of an evolving sound.

It was in this period of the development of reggae that the masses reasserted the strong influence of cultural values in the development of the confidence of the society. Reggae opened possibilities at the cultural, political and technological level, and was an inexhaustible source of courage and moral support, such that reggae artists were able to enter the international arenas and force onto the world an expression of oppressed peoples which had been considered culturally and artistically inferior.

Numerous studies have documented the struggles of reggae artists in the Jamaican society, but in the course of the struggle they were able to draw inspiration from the people and in turn stirred the physical and psychic energies of the people, which enabled them to withstand the pressures of poverty, unemployment, gun men and ganja enforcers.

By the end of the sixties, the influence of the Rastafarian movement on the development of the popular culture was evident by the fact that most serious reggae artists adhered to some of the principles of the Rastafari movement. Apart from the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, which had always been prominent in the expression of their beliefs, 'Soul Rebels' such as Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals (who sang "Do the Reggae") were wearing their hair in locksand were not ashamed to shake their locks at their concerts.

Bob Marley and the Wailers, Dennies Brown, Burning Spear, Dillinger, Culture Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus, the Mighty Diamonds, Third World, Bob Andy, and many other cultural leaders embraced Rastafari, and through their songs helped many other Jamaicans to discover their roots and the richness of their history. These artists, who were spearheading the development of a popular culture, were uncompromising in their identification with Africa, such that in 1969 both the ruling party and the opposition leader made pilgrimages to Africa and Ethiopia in an effort to keep abreast of this new pace.

These political leaders could go to Africa but they could not solve the underlying economic crisis, and the reggae artists did not wince in their critique of the capitalist system and its slavery antecedent. Bob Nady spoke of the hardships of the society by singing that:

"This couldn't be my home, 
It must be somewhere else,
Can't get no clothes to wear,
Can't get no food to eat,
Can't get a job to get bread,
That's why I've got to go back home."

Bob Marley, who had the experience of a migrant worker both inside and outside Jamaica, told the people not to be ashamed of their roots; and the Wailers continuously wailed about the conditions of their neighborhood - Trenchtown - while admonishing the youths not to be drawn into the competitiveness and viciousness of the society. One of the songs, "Man to Man," which was later introduced as "Who the Cap Fits", warned:

"Man to man is so unjust,
You don't know who to trust,
Your worse enemy could be your best friend,
Your best friend your worst enemy,
Some will sit and drink with you,
Then behind dem soo soo pon you,
Only your best friend know your secret,
And only he can reveal it.
Who the cap fits, let him wear it."

This song protest against the competition within the society, using the lines which were part of the folk culture for decades, at the same time breaking the tradition of dependence in music where Jamaican artists had simply put popular American songs to the reggae beat.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Do You Remember the Days of Slavery?
Part I: Slavery and the Roots of Resistance
Do You Remember on the Slave Ship, How They Brutalised my Very Soul?
When I Hear the Crack of a Whip, my Blood Runs Cold
Resistance to Slavery in Jamaica
Going Back to Africa, Cause I'm Black
Me No No Quashie
Of the Spiritual World and the Material World
Religion and Resistance
The Armed Slave Revolts
Part II: From Emancipation to the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865
Claeve to the Black
Chapter 2: Ethiopianism, Pan-Africanism and Garveyism
The Scramble for Africa
Pan-Africanism and Garveyism
Garveyism and Racial Consciousness
Garvey and the Symbols of Racial Pride
Garveyism in Jamaica
Chapter 3: The Origins of Rasta - Rasta and the Revolt of the Sufferers in Jamaica 1938
The Origins of Rastafari
Rastafari, the Black World and the Italian Invasion of Abyssinia
Rastafari and the Ethiopian World Federation
The Capitalist Depression in Jamaica
And the People Rise Up in 1938
The Transition from Colonialism to Neo-Colonialism
Idealism and Materialism in Jamaica
Chapter 4: Man in the Hills: Rasta, the Jamaican State and the Ganja Trade
Rastaman a Lion - from Quashie to Lion
Hail Jah Rastafari
Are Rastas Violent Cultists?
The University Report
Rasta, Ganja and the State
Outlawing a Popular Custom
Kola Nuts and Ganja
Operation Buccaneer
Coptics and the New Subversion
Chapter 5: Rasta , Reggae and Cultural Resistance
Rasta and the Rediscovery of the Cultural Heritage of the Slave
The Roots of Reggae
Walter Rodney's Groundings with his Brothers
Dis Ya Reggae Music - Roots, Rock, Reggae
Bob Marley and the Internationalisation of Reggae and Rasta
Marley in Zimbabwe
Bob Marley, Rasta and Uprising
Cultural Resistance and Political Change
Chapter 6: The Rastafarians in the Eastern Caribbean
The Nationalist Forebears of the Rasta
The Dreads
Rasta, Union Island and the Sea
The Rastas and the Grenadian Revolution
Rasta, Ganja and Capitalism
Rastas in Trinidad
Rastas, Guyana and the Left
Chapter 7: The Rastafari Movement in the Metropole
Part I: Rastas and the Decline of the African Liberation Support Committee
The Canadian Dimension
Part II: Rasta, the Black Worker, and the British Crisis
The Education System and the Growth of the Rastas
Rastas and the State: The Case of Birmingham
From the Shades of Grey to Cashmore's Rastaman
The Shades of Grey Report
Blacks, Rastas and the Prisons
Rata and the Challenge of Crisis
Rastafari Women
Whither Rasta? From Cultural Resistance to Organised Resistance
The New Cross Massacre and Uprisings
Chapter 8: Repatriation and Rastafari, the Ethiopian Revolution and the Settlement in Shashamane
Back to Africa
The Slaves and the Concept of Repatriation
The Sierra Leone Scheme
The Liberian Settlement
Marcus Garvey, Liberia, and Repatriation
Garveyism and Bilbo
Rastafari and Repatriation
The Shashamane Settlement and the Ethiopian Revolution
The Unfolding of the Revolution
Rastas, Repatriation and Africa
CONCLUSION: Rastafari: From Cultural Resistance to Cultural Liberation

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