RASTAFARI reggae artists are coming under harsh criticism from within their ranks. According to Nyabinghi elder Ras Flako, many of them are calling on Rastafari to get recognition from their audiences but do not support the movement in any way.
“These Rastafarian artists don’t attend any meetings. When we go to Nyabinghi meetings we don’t see any Rastafarian musicians or artists at our gatherings,” he said.
RAS FLAKO… Rastafarian artists don’t attend any meetings
“Whenever you take the microphone and call on Haile Selassie, you’re making a political statement on the divinity of His Majesty. You’re religious and political,” he continued.
He said true Rastas are guided by ethics and code.
The elder said many of these dreadlocked artistes and musicians do not belong to any of the mansions of Rastafari. There are three mansions of Rastafari. These are Nyabinghi, Twelve Tribes of Israel and Bobo Shanti.
“They sing about apartheid in Africa and highlight other issues, yet they don’t sing about the issues we face,” he said.
Ras Flako said there are a lot of issues to be addressed in the Rastafarian community, including the ‘Black Friday’ Coral Gardens incident.
‘Black Friday’ refers to two days of violence involving Rastafarians, which started on Holy Thursday (April 11, 1963) in Coral Gardens in St James and continued into Good Friday. Eight persons were killed including three Rastafarians.
The incident led to an islandwide crackdown on Rastas by government. Some members of the faith were imprisoned, some killed and others faced severe harassment.
“To date, there is only one singer who has ever given voice to the Coral Gardens incident and that’s Jah Lewis, who recorded Do You Remember the Coral Garden Incident in 1991 for Shanachie Records. Why aren’t we hearing more of these songs from Rastafarian artists?” he asked.
Author: Cecelia Campbell-Livingston