Mutabaruka speak about the King James Bible and Ratafarian

by DRW



Mutabaruka of Irie FM speak about Ratafarian and the King James Bible. He was speaking during an interview with National Geographic Magazine.

In the article Mutabaruka said, "The first thing that a Rasta was exposed to in this colonial country was this King James Version." Rastafarians are not Christians. Since the 1930s they have believed that the then emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, is God himself.

His name was Ras Tafari before 1930, when he was called "King of Kings, Lion of Judah, Elect of God." Those echo the titles the Bible gives to the Messiah. The island had long been soaked in Baptist Bible culture. In the mid-20th century, as Jamaicans were looking for a new redemptive Gospel, this suddenly made sense. Ras Tafari was the savior himself, the living God, and Ethiopia was the Promised Land. For Rastafarians, intensely conscious of the history of black enslavement, Jamaica was Babylon, their equivalent of the city where the people of Israel had been taken as slaves.

Liberty and redemption were not, as the Christians always said, in the next life but in this one. "The experience of slavery helps you," Mutabaruka says, "because there is this human need for salvation, for redemption. The Rastas don't believe in the sky god. Their redemption lies within the human character.

When the Europeans came and say, 'Jesus in the sky,' the Rasta man reject that totally." (Jesus in the sky being Rasta shorthand for the whole story of the Resurrection.) "The man say, 'When you see I, you see God.' There is no God in the sky. Man is God, Africa is the Promised Land."


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