Religiously, the Rastafari are committed to the belief in theliving God : God living in and among his people. Accordingly, such a belief throws cold water on anyone who claims leadership status. The living God, which according to the Rastafari is Haile Selassie, the former emperor of Ethiopia, is not only the ultimate decision maker, but there is no distinction between him and his followers. Thus, every member is an autonomous person whose obligation is to nothing but the convictions of his or her inner self. In this sense, the Rastafari is antihierarchical through and through.
As the Rastafari is a movement where flat hierarchy prevails, every member is a professional activist, none of whom has grounds to claim a distinct and sumptuous posture. Thus, insofar as a symmetrical relationship between the leaders and the led is integral to the philosophy of the Rastafari, it is of no avail to have a formal hierarchical organization. …
Structural versatility is also manifest in the religious dimension of the movement. The Rastafari is what a sociologist of religion calls an emergent religion. The absence of formal organizations, leadership, and official creeds is what differentiates emergent religions from traditional ones. Hence, the Rastafari as an emergent religion differs from traditional religions such as Christianity. The absence of churches and leaders, and the perspective of movement participants about the Bible, is what makes the Rastafari unique. Because the Rastafarians consider each member as a church unto him- or herself, the existence of a separate Rastafarian church is considered redundant and superfluous.
Prayers and other religious rituals can be conducted in any place as long as there is a group of Rastafarians. Consequently, among the Rastafari there is no professional staff of ministers who provide leadership and disseminate the doctrines of the movement. Unlike mainstream religions, the Rastafari does not have an established institution that formally trains a set of religious experts whose purpose is to disseminate the message of the movement. Even the Rastafarians do not refer to the teaching of Haile Selassie as do Christians and Muslims to the teachings of Christ and Mohammed. This is simply because Haile Selassie did not have a set of religious principles that he set out for his followers, nor did he at any time declare himself leader of the movement. This is one of the reasons why the Rastafari are at liberty in interpreting the messages of the Bible.
Title: DECENTERED MOVEMENTS: THE CASE OF THE STRUCTURAL AND PRECEPTUAL VERSATILITY OF THE RASTAFARI Author: Alemseghed Kebede Published: Sociological Spectrum. 2001. https://doi.org/10.1080/02732170118234
The term ‘dub’ is now used widely and indiscriminately by producers of dance and ambient music. More particularly, as the British post-punk producer Adrian Sherwood has commented, ‘everything from hiphop to techno and every other form of music right now has stolen ideas off dub, or incorporated those ideas’.
While there is obvious hyperbole here, the point is nevertheless an important one. The influence of dub permeates much contemporary electronica, dance, and urban music. Indeed, there is an increasingly wide range of contemporary music that is explicitly and conspicuously indebted to dub, from the dance-oriented rock of a band like Death in Vegas to the indigenous Moroccan music of Aisha Kandisha’s Jarring Effects, and from the relatively recent work of Primal Scream back to the punk and post-punk music of bands such as The Clash, PIL, Terrorists, Killing Joke, Bad Brains, and even the Welsh-speaking Anhrefn, some of whose album BWRW CWRW (1989) was mixed by the British dub pioneer the Mad Professor.
The term ‘dub’ evolved out of earlier terminology used in the recording industry in the United States.
This is significant because we will see that the genre has remained fundamentally related to recording technology. Traditionally known as ‘black wax’, ‘soft wax’, ‘slate’ or ‘reference disc’—and in the manufacturing sector as an ‘acetate’—the dub plate was a metal plate with a fine coating of vinyl.
Recorded music would be pressed on to the dub plate, following which a ‘stamper’ or metal master disc would be created in order to produce quantities of vinyl records. The process of transferring the music on to the vinyl-coated metal plate was known as ‘dubbing’—just as adding sound to a film is also known as dubbing. Hence, the terms ‘dub’ and ‘dub plate’ are not solely allied to the genre of ‘dub’. However, the point is that, with the demand for exclusive, unreleased music in Jamaican sound system culture (in which sound systems competed for audiences by, amongst other things, playing new music), the trade in ‘pre-release’ dub plates grew. And it is within this culture, hungry for new sounds and ideas, that the genre of ‘dub’ emerged.
The term dub, in the sense of a musical genre, was, therefore, originally applied to a remixing technique pioneered by Jamaican engineers and producers who were seeking novel and exclusive music (i.e. ‘specials’) for sound system use. So successful was the technique that it quickly evolved as a relatively inexpensive and creative way of reusing rhythm tracks. Essentially, recording engineers produced tracks on which their efforts were often more evident than those of the original musicians.
Indeed, the mixing desk and even the recording studio itself came to be understood as a musical instrument in that, in a similar way to a jazz musician’s improvisation on a standard tune, the engineer is involved in the reconceptualization of a piece of music. However, this is a very different type of instrument, in that, as a remixing technique, it is alchemical in its effects. As Jonathon Tankel puts it, ‘remixing is recoding, the reanimation of familiar music by the creation of new sonic textures for different sonic contexts… The remix recording creates a new artefact from the schemata of previously recorded music.
It is prima facie evidence of [Walter] Benjamin’s contention that “to an ever greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility” .“
Verses, names, symbols, and concepts from ancient Judah can come to figure centrally in a religious movement of modern Jamaica only through an unusually varied and extensive series of religious and cultural transmissions. This process of conceptual transformation and confluence has been the object of interest and inquiry in its own right, as scholars have attempted to trace “the twisted path to a Rastafari hermeneutics as the movement ‘hijacked’ Judeo-Christian Scriptures and converted them into vehicles for identity, ‘ideation,’ and liberation”. Rastafari reggae involves orders of intertextuality, multiple reconfigurations of language, meaning, names, and symbols, and the continual development and accrual of layers of additional semantic content and commentary. At one time literally grounded in concrete geopolitical and historical actualities, “Babylon” and “Zion” go on to become abstract concepts that pass themselves on like “memes” through modulating traditions, practices, and translations, eventually to occupy a crucial position in the religious art form of an Afro-Caribbean heterodoxy. The complex path of influences and inheritances by which the Psalms become Rastafari reggae songs goes back, according to tradition, all the way to the time of David, to whom some of the original psalms are ascribed. Evidence to place and date the Psalms historically is almost completely lacking, however, and thus there is room for considerable disagreement about these texts especially, as compared for example to many of the prophetic writings. Still, in broad terms, the path of migration may be said to extend from pre-exile Israel and Judah, to the first waves of Assyrian deportations of the northern kingdom in the eighth century BCE; to the sixth century Babylonian captivity and destruction of the Temple, and then the return and restoration; to the flourishing and fixation of the Hebrew scriptural tradition in the Persian or Second Temple period; to the Roman occupation, the watershed destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and the diaspora. Meanwhile the Septuagint, already in Koiné Greek for centuries, is taken up in the rise and spread of early Christianity in the Hellenized Roman Empire, to be Latinized, Europeanized, handed down through a thousand years of medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation developments in the West, ultimately to become the “Old Testament” of the 1611 “Authorized” or King James version (KJV) of the Bible, making its way to the “New World.”
It was thus in the classic English translation of the Bible that Jamaicans discovered the Judaic texts, but even then the reception was further modulated, mediated by resistance and interference. One may have expected missionary efforts to have been undertaken on the part of eighteenth-century British colonialists to convert indigenous and slave populations and spread Anglican Christianity, as had been done with Catholicism in Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Instead, according to Barrett, “the English planters in Jamaica adamantly refused to share their religion with the slave population”; for the Africans of Jamaica, “the Church of England and its high liturgy was considered too sophisticated”.
“After England took over Jamaica and established the slave trade, no attempt had been made to Christianize the slaves” for nearly two centuries. It was only through later “nonconformist” denominations like Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians that black Jamaicans were introduced to Judeo-Christian religion and the King James Bible. It is plainly the King James version that reggae psalmists take up and adapt to their own revolutionary purposes, as a number of characteristic examples will show. The language of the “Old Testament,” and especially of the Psalms, appears frequently in Bob Marley’s lyrics and in other reggae songs, notably the classic anthem “Rivers of Babylon,” which is an extended quotation of KJV Psalm 137 (and some of Psalm 19). This song deserves close analysis, as it is emblematic of the Rastafari reggae tradition, and both song and psalm have been the subject of singular attention in the scholarship. Rastafari identify especially with the ancient symbolism of “Zion”—under- stood not to be in contemporary Israel or the Middle East, but in Africa, and particularly Ethiopia—and they live in “Babylon,” which refers to realities of oppression far from Mesopotamia, which is (as Peter Tosh says) “everywhere”. For Rastafari, “two systems exist: Zion and Babylon, the good and the evil.” Babylon is both “the embodiment of evil in biblical literature” and also “a symbol of bondage, not only for ancient Israelites but for all people held in slavery and oppression, especially black people”.
Through an imaginative and highly subversive reinterpretation, Rastafari read themselves as portrayed in the texts and symbols of the Babylonian exile and the pre- and postexilic periods. In their “free-style approach” to the texts, making such an identification is not difficult: Rastafari are said to “hijack biblical materials and concepts and relate them to any situation or problem when their language and imagery fit the categories and ideology of the interpreter or movement”. Judaic biblical verses thus provide many lyrical and conceptual points of departure for religious reggae songs, just as they offer symbols (like the Lion of Judah) that become badges of Rastafari cultural and religious identity. The core religious vocabulary of Rastafari reggae originates in the King James version, but nearly all the names, places, and words have undergone extensive and creative deformation of language into Jamaicans’ own distinctive idiom. Key words and phrases are retained, but almost never strictly verbatim; reggae songs freely adapt and inflect the anglicized texts in a highly stylized vernacular that is unique to Jamaican and reggae culture. “I-an-I,” for example, is a preferred pronominal form; according to Stefffens, the expression “means ‘you and I’ or ‘I and the Creator who lives within I,’ indicating that there is no separation, that disunity is an illusion” , and affirming Rastafari union and identity with “the Divine, who indwells ‘I-an-I’ ”. These innovations notwithstanding, the overarching religious themes of Rastafari reggae are recognizably, indeed unmistakably Judaic: captivity, oppression, exile, diaspora, longing for freedom and return. “Rastafari reggae” thus designates a specific subset: reggae music is only one form of Rastafari religious expression—i.e. not all Rastafari is reggae— and certainly not all reggae is Rastafari.
Representing far more than mere entertainment, this now classic form of reggae is not, as it were, “just music”—any more than the original psalms were; whether at the First or Second Temple, or by the rivers of Babylon. Insofar as they are derived from particular biblical verses set to music, many Rastafari songs—at least in what has been called reggae’s “churchical” mode —may be considered distant but direct descendants of the psalm form itself. Reggae songs and themes have resonated even with indigenous peoples who have been colonized on their own land (“Reggae on the Rez”) rather than being carried away into captivity or driven into exile.
From Judah to Jamaica: The Psalms in Rastafari Reggae Thompson, J. (2012). Religion and the Arts
Jah Billah intro: This text highlights tactics used by Babylon to regain social control over revolutionary social movements. In escalating progression these appear as: Evasion – ignoring Counterpersuasion– ridicule and linguistic control Coercion or Coercive persuasion – violence Adjustment – co-opting the social movement Capitulation – Babylon take over
Even if take just a quick look at first tactic “creating dead channels” we can witness how online media surrounds us with fake activist influencers who do the talk yet never remember to do the walk.
The Rhetoric of Social Control … Responding to the agitation of a social movement, ‘‘establishments’’ tend to Resort first to ‘‘evasion,’’ which involves, in effect, pretending that the social movement ‘‘does not exist or that it is too insignificant to recognize’’. Establishments can postpone action, appear constrained to grant protest goals, control or change the social or political agenda , lie and control information, deny protestors the physical means of protest, deny protestors access to the media, and create ‘‘dead-‐end’’ channels of influence. For example, during the 1960s, several poor, Black communities in Baltimore waged a war on poverty, challenging the dominant White majority who controlled the city’s political structure. In order to thwart the demands of the protestors, Baltimore’s political establishment employed a standard evasion tactic, changing the political agenda. The protestors insisted that the city government must invest the necessary time and resources to address Baltimore’s impoverished areas. In response, Baltimore’s political establishment changed the political agenda to ‘‘improve the absolute well-‐being of the city’s entire population, not to effect a redistribution of values in favor of the poverty-‐stricken blacks’’.
The second strategy is called ‘‘counterpersuasion.’’ In counterpersuasion, governments and their surrogates seek to discredit movement leaders or to show their ideas are ‘‘ill-‐advised and lack merit’’. Counterpersuasion may be part of a larger rhetorical matrix called ‘‘administrative rhetoric,’’ or the establishment’s attempt to undermine a social movement’s ideas and influence. A number of counterpersuasion tactics have been identified, including ridicule, discrediting protest leaders and organizations, appealing to unity by ‘‘crying anarchy’’, and linguistic control. In a study on the Equal Rights Association, Martha Solomon ( 1978) argued that the STOP-‐ERA political campaign employed the tactic of ridicule to paint ‘‘an unappealing picture of the feminists’ physical appearance and nature’’. Portrayed in ‘‘devil’’ terms, ERA supporters were labeled ‘‘anti-‐male,’’ ‘‘arrogant,’’ and ‘‘abortive.’’ In contrast, ERA opponents were characterized within the ideological framework of the ‘‘Positive Woman’’—physically attractive, intelligent, and emotionally fulfilled.
When milder strategies prove unsuccessful in counteracting the agitation of a social movement, establishments typically resort to a strategy of ‘‘coercion.’’ This strategy may remain largely rhetorical, what Stewart, Smith, and Denton refer to as ‘‘coercive persuasion’’. Simons ( 1972, 1976) coined the term ‘‘coercive persuasion’’ because he believed ‘‘elements of persuasion and inducement or persuasion and constraint are generally manifested in the same act’’. For example, police officers combine physical and verbal intimidation to control deviance before a social disturbance breaks out.
If ‘‘coercion persuasion’’ fails, the conflict can escalate to more physical tactics, such as restrictive legislation, physically attacking demonstrators, firebombing homes, imprisonment, or even assassination. Oberschall ( 1973) observed that during this conflictual stage ‘‘the authorities seek to destroy the organization of the opposition, arrest their leaders, and even set up stooges that allegedly speak for the population from which the protestors are drawn’’. In a comprehensive study of how riot commissions interpret and investigate riots, Platt ( 1971) reported that an estimated 34 people died and over 4,000 were arrested during the 1965 Watts riots. According to Platt, a jury later discovered that the Los Angeles Police Department and the National Guard were responsible for 23 of the 26 ‘‘justified’’ murders.
When all strategies have failed, an establishment may employ the ‘‘adjustment’’ strategy, which ‘‘involves making some concessions to a social movement while not accepting the movement’s demands or goals’’ . Adjustment tactics can encompass ‘‘symbolic’’ concessions, such as Manley’s public praise of the Rastafarian movement, or establishments might sacrifice some of their own personnel if a ‘‘social movement focuses its agitation and hatred upon a single individual or unit’’. Elites can use economic rewards to satisfy and stratify a protest group or establish committees to investigate issues. If a social movement’s agitation becomes especially intense, the establishment might even incorporate movement leaders and sympathizers into the establishment by appointing them to low-‐level decision-‐ making positions. Or the establishment might incorporate parts of the dissent ideology into the mainstream, entering into a loose confederation with the social movement.
Yet, cooperation with a dissent group ‘‘may lead to outright co-‐optation of the cause’’ or a literal takeover of the movement by elements of the mainstream establishment. Gamson ( 1968) suggested that establishments use the co-‐optation strategy when prior control strategies were unsuccessful. Social movements that are co-‐opted are often ‘‘subject to the rewards and punishments that the organization bestows’’. In fact, according to Gamson, ‘‘new rewards lie ahead if they show themselves to be amenable to some degree of control’’.
The final strategy, capitulation, occurs when the social movement’s ideas, policies, and personnel ‘‘replace those of the target institution’’. In the case of the Rastafarian movement, the Jamaican government did not capitulate to the demands of the Rastafarian movement. Instead, the Jamaican government and its supporters co-‐opted the cultural symbols of Rastafari and reggae music as authentic reflections of Jamaican society. …
Text from: The Co-optation of a ‘‘Revolution’’: Rastafari, Reggae, and the Rhetoric of Social Control Author: King, Stephen A. (1999). Faculty Research and Creative Activity. 15. http://thekeep.eiu.edu/commstudies_fac/15
The dynamics of herbal medicine are complex within the Western Cape and are typically sectored into different groupings based upon cultural background. In contemporary Western Cape culture, particularly in urban Cape Town, a hybridization of cultures and healers has led to the development of neo–traditional healers, Rastafari bush doctors.
This group draws from the practices and herbal treatments used by other cultures including: herbalists called inyanga (Zulu) and amaxwhele (Xhosa); spiritual diviners, who communicate largely with ancestral spirits, called izangoma (Zulu) and amagqirha (Xhosa); faith healers called umthandazi (Xhosa), Christians who heal through prayer; and traditional birth attendants. In the Western Cape, bossiedokters (in English, bush doctors), healers with knowledge of bush herbs, are recognized as the oldest healers in this area.
Rastafarian herbalists acknowledge their KhoiSan history as the basis for their botanical medical knowledge. There is evidence that medicinal plant knowledge was shared between KhoiSan and Xhosa cultures from the 16th century onwards; where KhoiSan peoples used highly advanced nomenclature, distinguishing between species and sub–species levels, while Xhosa folk taxonomy discriminates typically to the family or genus level and include flora from a wider geographical range.
Investigations reveal that the growing subculture of Rastafarians promotes and trades medicinal species in most towns, city centers, and rural areas in the Western Cape. Rastafari, a socio–political religion, has been a growing phenomenon in South Africa since its introduction in the 1970s. Its tenets promote racial equality, ecological sustainability and, for those in the Western Cape, availability of traditional medicines. The most visible leaders of this group are their healers who have adopted the Afrikaans name: bossiedokters.
Contemporary Rasta bush doctors state that their mission is to reintroduce KhoiSan healing traditions to the disadvantaged people living in townships, housing settlements for people of color that were provided by the Apartheid government. Bush doctors are an important element to revitalizing a culture of healing and preserving indigenous knowledge specifically for urbanized Coloured communities, a mixed race group descendant from KhoiSan people and other cultures.
Great section on how ancient Egyptian measurement of Royal Cubit was deduced from universal constant: 1 drop of water on waterproof surface is exactly 1 cm wide. From this, every other known measurement was born and knowledge about universal constants like Pi, Phi or C arose.
40 days are gone since the sad news of Lee Scratch Perry leaving this earthly domain. Lee Scratch Perry was fundamental force in shaping of Ska, Reggae, Dub, Techno, Jungle and essentially every modern genre of music. His legacy is such that he will never be forgotten.