by Shai Alkebu-Lan
San Quentin, Calif. – On the first anniversary of the House of the Lions of Judah, I delivered these remarks at our ecumenical Rastafari service:
In 1914, Marcus Garvey and Amy Ashwood co-founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). He also established a printing business and produced the first Black-owned newspaper in Jamaica. The newspaper was called The Black Man.
Now just imagine back in the early 1900s reading a newspaper with the most beautiful, intelligent, political, Black women and men from all over the world. This paper not only spoke about their accomplishments but had photos too! whereby its readers could identify.
Shortly thereafter, on the other side of the world in a place called Ethiopia (Abysinnia), Africa, in 1916 Ras Tafari Makonnen, the governor of the Ethiopian province of Harrar, was proclaimed prince regent and heir apparent of Ethiopia. It was reported that Prince Regent Ras Tafari Makonnen met with Dr. Nambi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Jomo Burning Spear Kenyatta of Kenya, Marcus Garvey of Jamaica and other African patriots to form the secret order of the Nyahbinghi. The Nyahbinghi order drafted plans for the total liberation of the African continent by any means necessary.
Additionally, in 1919, Marcus Garvey founded a shipping company called the Black Star Line. Yet with every endeavor come hardships. In 1923 Garvey was surreptitiously arrested and charged with mail fraud, was found guilty in 1925 and sentenced to five years in prison in the state of Georgia. But in November 1927 Marcus Garvey was granted a pardon by President Calvin Coolidge and deported to Jamaica.
Marcus Garvey taught history about Ethiopia, Alexandria, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Monomatapa, Timbuktu, Ghana, Mali, Songhai and other great African empires and cultures to his followers.
Sometime after Garvey was pardoned in 1928, Prince Regent Ras Tafari Makonnen was fighting for his life and kingdom in a war against his own family to rule Ethiopia, Africa. Upon his victory, Makonnen was crowned negus (king) of Ethiopia.
Then on Nov. 2, 1930, Negus (King) Tafari Makonnen was coronated in Addis Ababa (the new flower) before a world audience which included England’s Prince of Wales and other European royalties. He was crowned by His Holiness Abona Basilios, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church as His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, Negus Negusti (King of Kings), Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Lebena Denghel (incense of the virgin), Keeper of the Faith of the Dynasty of Judah, Keeper of the Faith of the Dynasty of David and the Elect of God.
Emperor Selassie I was given the golden orb and golden sceptre of Biblical Kings David and Soloman. Thus, this coronation of his imperial majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, Africa, signaled prophetically and historically the birth of the Rastafarian movement. Haile Selassie means “power of the trinity.”
Further, as history unfolded, the culminating developments in the 1930s and 1940 occurring in Jamaica, the United States, Europe and Africa – especially the 1935 invasion of Ethiopia by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, forces under the command of Marshall Badolio and blessed by the Roman Catholic Church pontiff – were the catalysts for World War II and created the spawn of the Rastafarian dawn.
Three basic concepts of culture
I. That HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia is the Returned Messiah, the God Head, the Ancient of Days. This is debatable considering Emperor Selassie I specifically said in an interview with Bill McNeil: “I have heard of that idea (that I am the reincarnation of Jesus Christ). I also met certain Rastafarians. I told them clearly that I am a man, that I am mortal, and that I will be replaced by the oncoming generation, and that they should never make a mistake in assuming or pretending that the human being is emanated (originated) from a deity (God).”
II. That all African peoples brought to the Western Hemisphere through the European slave trade, whose progeny still survive, have the inherent rights to demand their reparations, which should be contributed by nations that participated in the nefarious practice of African slave trading.
III. That Ethiopia is an integral part of the Garden of Eden as recorded in the Book of Genesis.
Furthermore, special thanks to all the Rastas and visitors and staff that participated in the February 2013 coronation banquet in the Addiction Recovery Counseling Building (ARC) at CSP-San Quentin. One love to Jafi, Bell, MalachI, Mike, Ras Clarke and Ras Jahzeel, also Terry Keller and Rasheed Whitehead. Lastly, special respect to Ras Naya, Sharif, Ras Haile Maskal and Ras Midas and their families from Santa Cruz.
Send our brother some love and light. Shai Alkebu-Lan, P02598, 5W-38L, CSP-San Quentin, San Quentin, CA 94974. The source of the quote from Bill McNeil’s interview with Emperor Selassie is “From Babylon to Rastafari” by Douglas Mack.