Rastafari Resurgence in Reggae's Roots Revival Generation Two Reggae Songs by Chronixx in Jamaican Patwa.
Few reggae songs have received serious orthographic treatment, analysis of their lexical content, or close readings of their meanings in relation to the sources of Rastafari. The task is worthwhile because reggae songs provide a widely celebrated peoples' critique of colonial legacies.
One goal in this contribution is to increase the corpus of published Patwa texts with interpretations about them. Although websites like Genius Song Lyrics and Knowledge, AZ Lyrics, and Jah Lyrics include significant crowd-sourced databases of reggae lyrics, public knowledge of Jamaican Patwa's official spelling system, referred to as the "Cassidy-Jamaican Language Unit" spelling system, is woefully inadequate both on the Internet and in published sources. Most publicly accessible transcriptions of songs in Patwa make use of a spelling system inspired by Standard English that obscures the sound structure and meaning of reggae lyrics. The publications Biesik Jumiekan and Di Jamiekan Nyuu Testiment (1) robustly illustrate Standard Jamaican Patwa's spelling system (although lingering differences like Jumiekan versus Jamiekan or an versus ah, etc., show that standardization is not totally established). Recent publications provide a model for judging and correcting the inaccuracies found in online reggae transcriptions. The lyrics in this essay were originally sourced from www.genius.com (where they can still be viewed in their original form) and were thoroughly corrected to reflect Standard Jamaican spelling norms. (2) This is not to say that Chronixx's idiolect consistently follows standard Jamaican Patwa norms. It is nonetheless closer to basilectal Patwa than the more acrolectal Patwa that leans toward Standard Jamaican English in the songs of other artists, such as Bob Marley, for example.
Staat a Fayah Yes Ai, aili, Haili, Haili, Haili, Haili, a bon (3) VERSE 1 Ya neva waarn mi, foreva bernin Kan ya si wen di tebls ternin Mi se a lov Ai an Ai priichin So evri laand ov heet wil bern Ai waz der wen di ships keem An chastaiz Ai iina Jiizas neem Wanda if mi kreezi, wanda if mi sein Bot di uol a Ruom ago go op iina fleems (Lisen wa mi se naw) CHORUS Ana notn fi mi waak iina Ruom an staat a fayah, staat a fayah An ana notn fi mi waak iina Ruom an staat a fayah, staat a fayah Kaa dem a wanda ou a likl Afrikan Ago bon dong di uola iina Vatikan Bot ana notn fi mi waak iina Ruom an staat a fayah, staat a fayah VERSE 2 Mi a go Ruom, di huol demografi An wen mi taak, an mi no hipokratik Wen mi se Ruom: Ah it no jiyografik Bot if a yu fi weer di kyap den yu it a fit Wen mi se Ruom, mi a taak bout layad (4) Haili Selasi Ai, di powa a di trayad, di iigl, an di dragon, an di biir a spit fayah Bot dem kyaa ovacho di kankorin layan Start a Fire Yes I, holy Haile, Haile, Haile, Haile, will burn VERSE 1 You never warned me, forever burning Can you see when the tables are turning? I say love to I and I preaching So every land of hate will burn I was there when the ships came And chastised I in Jesus's name Wonder if I'm crazy, wonder if I'm sane, But the whole of Rome is going to go up in flames (5) (Listen to what I say now) CHORUS And it would take nothing for me to walk into Rome and start a fire, start a fire And it would take nothing for me to walk into Rome and start a fire, start a fire Because they are wondering how a little African is going to burn down the entire Vatican And it would take nothing for me to walk into Rome and start a fire, start a fire VERSE 2 I'm going to Rome, the whole demography And when I talk, and I'm not hypocritical When I say Rome: Oh it isn't geographic But if you wear the cap, then it fits you When I say Rome, I'm talking about the liar Haile Selassie I is the power of the triad, The eagle, and the dragon, and the bear will spit fire (6) But they cannot overthrow the conquering lion PRE-CHORUS Ier wa mi se naw, Lisen tu di vais ov Jah piipl Tide Ruom wil bern Ana mi aluon, a Jah ova ivil Se tide Ruom wil bern (Repeat CHORUS) BRIDGE Ana mi aluon, aital (7) a kom Teflon a waak we di aital a bon An wen ya fail a ertkwiik shiek dong a grong Ana gon, a shieks dat a kom (Repeat CHORUS) PRE-CHORUS An mi se, lisen tu di vais ov Jah piipl Tide Ruom wil bern Ana mi aluon, a Jah ova ivil Se tide Ruom wil bern OUTRO Se, lisen tu di vais ov Jah piipl Tide Ruom wil bern Ana mi aluon Ana mi aluon, tide, tide, tide... Ier wa mi se naw Ya na miin? Ya na miin? Ya na miin? Ya na miin? PRE-CHORUS Hear what I say now Listen to the voice of Jah people Today Rome will burn It is not I alone: Jah stands above evil Say today Rome will burn (Repeat CHORUS) BRIDGE It is not I alone, ital is coming Teflon is walking to where the ital is burning And when you feel an earthquake shake the ground down And once I'm gone, a shaking is coming (Repeat CHORUS) PRE-CHORUS And I say, listen to the voice of Jah people Today Rome will burn Even if I'm alone, Jah stands over evil Say today Rome will burn OUTRO Say, listen to the voice of Jah people Today Rome will burn Even if I'm alone Even if I'm alone, today, today, today, Hear what I say now Do you know what I mean? Do you know what I mean? Do you know what I mean? Do you know what I mean? Yes Ai (8) Tide Ruom wil bern Tide Ruom wil bern Tide Ruom wil bern Ruom wil bern Lisen wa mi se naw! Ago bon, ago bon Ago bon, ago bon Yes I! Today Rome will burn Today Rome will burn Today Rome will burn Rome will burn Listen to what I say now! Is going to burn, is going to burn Is going to burn, is going to burn Ruuts an chalis INTRODUCTION Ruuts! Uhuh! Piipl dem a baal ruuts! Umm umm! Ruuts! Ow ruuts! Hey! CHORUS Iina Rastaman paati, chalis fi bon Chalis fi lik Iina Rastaman paati maalis fi (wi) bon An a ruuts wi sip Ruuts an chalis, sipin ruuts an chalis Iina Rastaman paati, chalis fi bon An a ruuts fi sip VERSE 1 Luod op di kuchi nuh Mi pof it, den shi pof it, den ya pof it so Di masiv (9) dem a wanda ou mi lov it so Ai-man no jrink no rom Ha ooooh yeh, ow wat a Satide Si Viva komin wid di ruuts bokl deh Mi si Jahmiel, im a faawad wid a Graba Liif Mi tek it fram im, an tel im, "duon kyari non a diiz!" (Repeat CHORUS) VERSE 2 Luk ou moch piipl pak op in ya, (eeh) Luk ou moch vehikl paak op in ya, (hey!) Roots and Chalice INTRODUCTION Roots! Oh oh! The people cry out roots! Umm umm! Roots! Oh roots! Hey! CHORUS In a Rastaman's party, water pipes are for lighting up. Waterpipes are for hitting In a Rastaman's party, evil will be burned up (10) And roots is sipped Roots and water pipe, sipping the roots and water pipe In a Rastaman's party, water pipes are for lighting up, Roots beverages are for sipping VERSE 1 Load up the bowl right away I puff it, then she puffs it, then you puff it so The people wonder how I love it so I-man drinks no rum Ha ooooh yeah, oh what a Saturday See Viva coming with the roots bottle there I see Jahmel, he approaches with Grabba Leaf tobacco wraps I take it from him, and tell him, "don't carry any of these!" (Repeat CHORUS) VERSE 2 Look how many people cram in here Look how many vehicles park up in here So mi nuo Silasi is di wina, uh uh, o ye. Di worl get nof lov fram Rasta So ou Babilan a pof (n) pan Rasta An ef ya kom iina di danshaal tu chrobl Ai, wi Ai beg ya, duon bada put a nit (Repeat CHORUS) BRIDGE Giv a lidl (12) lov, a lidl lov Sho som lov (show som lov) Rastaman se giv a lidl lov, a lidl lov An sho som lov (show som lov) Yeh, a Rastaman paati, a likl lov Sho som lov (sho som lov) Aits an giv a lidl lov, a lidl lov An sho som lov (show som lov) INTERLUDE Ruuts! 0 ruuts, hey! Hey, ruuts, ruuts! Rastaman paati, hey, Rastaman paati, Rastaman paati! OUTRO Fenomenan! An mi se stiimin out, Kraniks a stiimin out Nah lef mi chalis wen mi a liiv mi ous Stiimin out, Kraniks stiimin out Neva kom wid no naif, ruolin wit mi spaws, huh An Rasta na plie no kat nar no maws An mi a no nuo dopi, bat (13) nar no gos So I know Selassie is the winner, uh huh, oh yeah, The world has received so much love from Rasta So consider how Babylon (14) harasses Rasta And if you come into the dancehall to bother me, us I beg you, don't bother putting your feet in the door (Repeat CHORUS) BRIDGE Give a little love, a little love Show some love (show some love) Rastas say give a little love, a little love And show some love (show some love) Yeah, a Rastaman party, a little love Show some love (show some love) Spiritual elevation and give a little love, a little love And show some love (show some love) INTERLUDE Roots! Oh roots, hey! Hey, roots, roots! Rastaman party, hey, Rastaman party, Rastaman party! OUTRO Phenomenon! And I say steaming out, Chronixx is steaming out Didn't leave my water pipe when I left my house Steaming out, Chronixx is steaming out I never come with a knife, rolling with my spouse, huh, And Rasta doesn't play any game of cat and mouse And I don't know duppies, moths or ghosts So mi she, wach it, mek a popa (15) Kraniks kom dong an chos Laik mi an di ridim marid an wi neva divos Az mi step iina di plies, di piipl dem a baal out So man hafi go sing ontil mi chrot get hows Sombadi paas mi chalis dem, naw! Na na na, no no, no no no, now! Wail, wail, kom (16) a wikid an wail Naw welkom popa Kraniks in orijinal stail An di piipl dem a baal, se mi wel versatail An mi step iina di plies, an di dans get spwail An mi rof an mi tof, plos mi miik and mi mail Fram mi shert tu mi shuus, wel kliin, nah nah sail An a wach it popa Kraniks in orijinal stail Wail, wail, luk ou mi wikid an wail Fram mi likl, yeh mi tek it fram mi waz a likl chail (17) Naw mi big, luk ou mi rof, luk ou mi tof, laik krokodail And mi liriks dem a no, an dem a ron laik riva Nail Mi se sekl popa Kraniks, piipl dem lov ya stail Dem lov ya stail, an mi se, dem lov ya stail Dem lov ya stail, an mi se, dem lov ya stail So I say, watch it, let don Chronixx come down and have trust Like me and the rhythm are married and we never divorce As I walk into the place, the people cry out So I have to go sing until my throat gets hoarse Somebody pass me the water pipes, now! Na na na, no no, no no no, now! Wild, wild, I come wicked and wild Now welcome Don Chronixx in original style And the people cry out, say I'm very versatile And I step into the place, and the dance is spoiled And I'm rough and I'm tough, plus I'm meek and I'm mild From my shirt to my shoes, very clean, never ever soiled And watch it Don Chronixx in original style Wild, wild, look how I'm wicked and wild From my childhood, yeah I took it from when I was a little child Now I'm big, look how I'm rough, look how I'm tough, like a crocodile And my lyrics flow, and they run like the river Nile I say chill out, don Chronixx, the people love your style They love your style, and I say, they love your style
Of all Rastafari's cultural expressions, ideas have circulated most saliently in reggae music. Reggae means "The King's Music" because it praises the King, Haile Selassie I, and spreads his teachings. (18) The platform of recorded reggae music has spread Rasta ideas onto the international scene since the dawn of reggae in Trench Town in the late 1960s. Today Rastafari people dwell throughout the Caribbean, Africa, and the African Diaspora.
Reggae music has naturally evolved with the technological developments of recent decades. The ska, rocksteady and roots reggae of the 1960s and 1970s shifted toward an electronic reggae sound produced with drum machines and keyboards in the 1980s. The faster and euphoric dancehall reggae, with its throaty rap-toasting vocal-style, took the mantle in the late 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. In recent years a roots revival reggae movement inspired by the drum, bass, guitar, keyboard and brass instrumentation of the original roots reggae has surged forward.
According to Sarah Daynes, religion was the central theme in hit reggae lyrics in charting songs between 1973-1982 and 1993-1999. (19) In other years, the themes of love and sex, identity, individual and collective memory, social and political struggle, or "slackness" including guns and gangs, take over the reggae charts. The Rasta influence is strongest in roots reggae artists like Culture, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Israel Vibration, Peter Broggs, the Itals, and the Gladiators. Their basic ideological concerns include the religious and historical significance of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I (ruler of Ethiopia from 1916-1975), philosophical concerns about equal rights and justice, and economic solutions for the poor (such as education or cannabis and hemp cultivation). These themes can be traced back through the twentieth century in the work of Caribbean writers who embraced and elevated local cultures.
The young Jamaican musician and performer Jamar McNaughton, known as Chronixx, represented by the accompanying lyrics of two songs, is emphatically an exponent of Rastafari music. He stands out as a leader of the roots revival cohort, which includes artists like Chezidek, Macka-B, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Proteje, Kabaka Pyramid, and others. Critics and the public have received the releases of Chronixx's albums Dread & Terrible (2014) and Chronology (2017) enthusiastically. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Chronology among the top fifty albums of 2017, raving that Chronixx had "spearheaded a reggae revival that's more than merely retro " (20) Billboard magazine notes that demand for Chronixx's music resulted in his sold-out performances in the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa in 2017, even if his album sales have faced challenges in the age of digital streaming. (21)
Chronixx, by virtue of his vocal talents, his lyrical virtuosity, and the solidity of his musical accompaniment, leads the contemporary roots reggae revival movement. I ground my motivations for focusing on Chronixx on my appreciation of his Jamaican Patwa lyrics. I wanted to write about a contemporary artist in order to pursue a synchronic representation of Jamaican Patwa. I also aim to contribute to Jamaican ethnomusicology and Rastafari history through my linguistic documentation of Jamaican Patwa in the form of the transcriptions and translations of Chronixx's singles "Start a Fyah" and "Roots and Chalice." These two songs are also particularly rich in illustrations of Rastafari and Ethiopianist ideas, still resonating decades after their elaboration, which began in the 1920s with the writings of Marcus Garvey, Robert Athlyi Rogers, and Fitz Balintine Pettersburg, taking form in the 1930s with the work of Leonard Howell, and continuing to be elaborated through World War II up to the present. (22)
In addition to advancing Jamaican applied linguistics in this study, the historical, thematic, and linguistic structures in the songs inspired my work. Chronixx's music represents an example of Jamaican reggae with global impact. Research on the interlocking worlds of Jamaican Patwa, reggae, and Rastafari helps readers grasp the meaning expressed by these important Caribbean and global forces. Scholarly contributions have significantly improved access to research on reggae and Rastafari, but documentation of transcribed and translated songs in accurate Jamaican Patwa spelling is scarce.
Ethiopianism and Rastafari
The next paragraphs sketch the history of Rastafari in broad terms in order to place Chronixx's themes in their historical context. Reggae lyrics memorialize slavery and colonialism, and in this religious tradition they resist contemporary expressions of imperialism, racism, and classism. The British colonized Jamaica from 1655 until 1962, leaving the legacies of a violent slave society and relentless resource extraction. The critique and resolution of these legacies are the focus of the original roots reggae, beginning in the 1960s, and remain a concern in the "roots revival generation" that includes Chronixx, Proteje and Chezidek. As Chronixx tells us in "Start a Fyah," "Ai waz der wen di ships keem": as an African-Jamaican descendent, he was there when slavery began; he is a witness to the legacies of the European transatlantic slave trade.
The Rastafari and many reggae songs consider Marcus Garvey's work and writings to be prophetic; in the 1920s, he roused messianic expectations for the appearance of a sacred Ethiopian king, while raising awareness about the redemption of Africa through liberation from foreign occupation and the establishment of self-rule. The expectations were spectacularly fulfilled by the 1930 crowning of Ras Tafari as Emperor Haile Selassie I in Addis Ababa in 1930.
The Jamaican-born Garvey advocated for the independence and unification of Africa, the empowerment and pride of African heritage peoples, and resistance to the ideology of white supremacy and slavery. He and his followers set up ideals of black supremacy, and found it justified in history. Garvey's proposals for the repatriation of African descendants suffering under white supremacy movements like the KKK or Jim Crow laws were responses to the hideous racist violence of the period. At a time when European colonial armies occupied numerous regions in Africa, Garvey argued that "there is no salvation for the Negro but through a free and independent Africa." (23) Garvey and his followers preached Ethiopianism to advance a philosophical and religious alternative for African diasporic people. Garvey wrote in the 1920s, "We Negroes believe in the God of Ethiopia--the everlasting God--God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, the One God of all ages. That is the God in whom we believe, but we shall worship him through the spectacles of Ethiopia" (44).
Ethiopianists not only encouraged migration to Ethiopia and free parts of Africa, but also a migration of the heart towards an Ethiopian moral and ethical way of living built on love, unity, equality and justice for all. Robert Athlyi Rogers spoke of "the establishment of true love in the administration of Justice to all men," "freedom of Ethiopia," and "the creation of industries, the maintenance of colleges." Garvey, using capital letters, called for "JUSTICE, LOVE, CHARITY, MERCY AND EQUITY" to be the foundations of his movement (14). The black supremacy they preached was not modeled on the white supremacy they resisted (nor, as Chronixx makes clear in "Start a Fyah," on the kind of religion that promoted white supremacy worldwide).
Still, resistance to white supremacy involved the right to rise up against it. in a righteousness proper to the Jewish and Christian traditions. Citing Psalm 68:31, Garvey had closed his tome with prophetic lines, "but remember, [Whites], give Africa a long berth, for one day God and His hosts shall bring 'Princes out of Egypt and Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands'" (412). In his 1924 The Holy Piby, Robert Athlyi Rogers proclaimed in the words of John the Baptist, "prepare ye the way for a redeemer." Several preachers and mystics like Athlyi Rogers and Leonard Howell saw the headlines of Ras Tafari Makonnen's coronation as Haile Selassie I (his new royal name, meaning, "Power of the Trinity") in 1930 as the fulfillment of Garveyite expectations and prophecies about a coming King who would redeem Africa. Africanism and Ethiopianism found a new name with this coronation: Rastafari.
As head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Haile Selassie I also provided the alternative of an Ethiopian and African spiritual focal point, retaining Ethiopian Orthodoxy's proximity to the Bible while endowing it with new interpretations. Advocates of Rastafari and Ethiopianism emphasize the antiquity of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (with its fourth-century CE vintage) as a source for nourishing black pride and power. True "Christianity" is Rastafari and Emperor Haile Selasie Fs own tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The great reggae artist Bob Marley was a member of the Rasta Twelve Tribes of Israel Mansion and later also the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
However, the Ethiopianism of Garvey and his followers led to a more intense view of the ruler himself. Haile Selassie I's formal titles fit the Garveyites' expectations about the King: Elect (Ailekt) of God and King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah and Root of David. References to Haile Selassie I by means of his royal "strong names" are common features of the Rastafari and reggae lexical field. His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I came to be seen in the British colony of Jamaica as a liberating African-born messianic redeemer who represented the affirmation of African humanity, dignity, independence, and sovereignty. (24) Early preachers of the Rastafari revelation in Jamaica, such as Leonard Howell, Joseph Hibbert, Archibald Dunkley, Robert Hinds, and Mortimer Planno were deeply influenced by the efforts of Marcus Garvey and the Garveyites to raise awareness about Ethiopianism and social justice in the 1920s. (25) In Howell's seminal Rastafari tract, The Promised Key, he argues that "His Majesty Ras Tafari is the head over all man for He is the Supreme God" and that, "the King of Kings must be the cry of our social hope," reflecting the importance of social equality and justice in early Rastafari writings. (26) The link between Haile Selassie I and social justice remains essential more than eight decades after Howell's writings. Recent Rastafari author Afari argued, "The Rastafarians accept and recognize His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, JAH RASTAFARI, as the Supreme Father of humanity and his Empress, Menen, as the Mother of humanity." (27)
Rome and Babylon
Chronixx asserts canonical Rastafari and reggae positions on Haile Selassie I's role in world history. Rastafari attribute sacred significance to the life and career of the Ethiopian Emperor. Aitiyopia ("Ethiopia") is Zaiyan ("Zion") and the monarch is an Aivain ("divine") ruler. His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I's military and political career can be seen reflected most strongly in the lyrics of "Start a Fyah," which begins with the invocation "Yes Ai, aili, (28) Haili, Haili, Haili, Haili," and where he appears as the "conquering lion" with the "power of the triad" (Haile Selassie's name, "The Power of the Trinity," refers to the trinity of Ethiopian Orthodoxy). (29) The antagonist of the lion is "Rome," a city that represents European Christianity most intensely; however, the song tells us that Rome is not jiyografik; it is a state of mind that reflects colonial patterns and structures rooted in racism and slavery. The historical reasons for the critique of Rome stem from the events of Haile Selassie I's life.
The Ethiopian people's struggle with Italian fascism in the 1930s and 1940s is a historical period that forms the bedrock of Rastafari mythology. Benito Mussolini, leader of the dominant National Fascist Party in Italy, ruling from Rome and with the blessing of the Roman Catholic Pope Pius XI, ordered the Italian army to invade Ethiopia in 1935 from their colony in Eritrea. The Italian invasion and occupation led to Haile Selassie I's exile in Great Britain. There he warned an appeaser League of Nations about the coming cataclysm of fascist global war and he worked toward retrieving Ethiopian sovereignty. The early Rastafari community and advocates of Ethiopianism and black sovereignty witnessed the events with an anguish that gave way to the jubilation of Ethiopia's return to self-rule and the restoration of Emperor Selassie I's Davidic and Solomonic reign.
In early 1941 Haile Selassie I, his Ethiopian Free Forces, and the Allied Gideon Force crossed into Ethiopia and began clearing the country of the Italian fascists and their local collaborators. Haile Selassie I's entrance into Addis Ababa on May 5, 1941 and the restoration of his rule are events inscribed in sacred Rastafari history. From the Rastafari point of view, the returned Christ, Haile Selassie I, who is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, had returned to Mount Zion, Ethiopia. Just as Jewish, Christian, Islamic or Mormon traditions made historical events sacred in their books, the career of Haile Selassie I is rich material for philosophical and mythological development in Rastafari. His long reign extended until his "disappearance" from earth in 1975. (30) Bob Marley's 1976 lyrics, "Jah Live! Children, yeah!" celebrate the Rastafari position on Emperor Selassie I's spiritual permanency.
Thus Italians and by extension Rome and the religion it represents are colonizers and neo-colonizers; the Catholic Church's historical complicity in Mussolini's aggression against Ethiopia represents irreconcilable crimes. For early Ethiopianists and Rastafari of the 1920s and 1930s, however, Catholicism was already highly problematical as a sponsor of slave societies in the Americas. Leonard Howell's declaration reflects this antagonism: "the Pope of Rome who is satan the devil." (31) Of course, Protestants like those who colonized Jamaica might well have shared this sentiment, but from the Rastafari point of view expressed in "Start a Fyah" they are part of the Eurocentric Christianity that found Biblical justification for enslaving Africans and brutalizing all people of color:
Ai waz der wen di ships keem An chastaiz Ai iina Jiizas neem I was there when the ships came And chastised I in Jesus's name
The chastisement of the enslaved and colonized was carried out in the name of Jesus over many generations. European Christians chastised non-Europeans for having different beliefs and customs. (32)
Wen mi se Ruom: Ah it no jiyografik Bot if a yu fi weer di kyap den yu it a fit Wen mi se Ruom, mi a taak bout layad Haili Selasi Ai, di powa a di trayad When I say Rome: Oh it isn't geographic But if you wear the cap, then it fits you (33) When I say Rome, I'm talking about the liar Haile Selassie I is the power of the triad
The contrast is between the lying agents of colonialism and the forces of liberation represented by His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I. This is the Rome, even the Vatican, that a "little African" can and will burn. All those who have participated in the enslavement of Africans and justified it with religion--who wear or have worn that particular liars' cap--will burn.
This lying "Rome" which Chronixx and Rastafari people want to burn might be illustrated by the observations of the eighteenth-century slave-trader Robert Norris. Norris claims that "many" established churches used the profits derived from enslavement to bring about the increase of Christianity and that consequently the slave trade was justified:
The adventurers in this trade [...] the Society for propagating Christianity, composed of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and many pious doctors of the established church, deriving, as masters, a yearly income from the labor of their Negroe (sic) slaves in the West Indies, which is appropriated to the increase of Christianity in the world, could not consider it as contrary to the spirit of the Scriptures, or to the principles of morality. (34)
Not only did leaders of European Christianity sanctify slavery, they invested in it and drew direct profits from it.
Rastafari religion is certainly part of the Jewish and Christian, or more broadly Abrahamic, religions. However, it authenticates or repudiates particular traditions through the lens of the revelation on Haile Selassie I's aiviniti (divinity). The persistence of Christianity after slavery allows for a vestige of its culture of obedience, conformity, and chastisement. However, the necrotic theology of enslavement in life and freedom after death is replaced with a theology that celebrates the presence of the divinity of Jah within the Ai ("I"), hence the expression Ja-Ai. (35) As Chronixx says, "Mi se a lov Ai and Ai priichin" ("I say love to I and I preaching"), but "a Jah ova ivil / Se tide Ruom wil bern" ("Jah stands above evil / Say today Rome will burn"). (36)
A second great city, Babylon of Biblical times, is mentioned in Chronixx's song "Roots and Chalice." "So ou Babilan (37) a pof pan Rasta" ("So consider how Babylon harasses Rasta"). "Roots and Chalice" explores a dancehall party theme, introduces dietary and cultural practices, and boasts of the artist's growing reputation but unchanged convictions. In dancehall culture, a Rastaman can dance and smoke cannabis but tension lurks, especially from drunken ghouls. To some extent, these tensions and the need to guard against them by abstention from meat, alcohol, and tobacco are part of the spiritual meaning of "Babylon."
As with Rome, Babylon also has a powerful association with Haile Selassie I and his confrontation with Fascism. The Biblical Babylon was of course the town and empire in ancient Persia whose armies captured members of the Judean elite and took them into captivity in Babylon. Between 598-597 B.C.E., the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar quelled Jehoiakim's rebellion, deporting the royal family, court officials and important citizens. (38) The notion of exile from Zion, Jerusalem, or the Promised Land is often expressed in Jewish and Christian culture as a Babylonian Captivity (39) Thus, in Rastafari history, the Italians forced Haile Selassie I into a "Babylonian exile" away from Ethiopia. However, as with the concept of "Rome," the Babylonian captivity of Rastafarians represents broader historical and moral territories, reaching back into slavery and forward into daily modern life.
In terms of the history of Africans in the New World, European enslavers are the "Babylonians" who took the captured "Judean" Aitiyopian (Africans) and dragged them in shackles and chains into captivity and exile. In a Rastafari Biblical interpretative mode, the Rastafari are "Jews of the Tribe of Judah," suffering in a Babylonian exile of European design. Ethiopianism and Garvey's promotion of the idea of repatriation to Africa suggest a twentiethcentury return from the captivity. A core tenet of Rastafari thought is that Rastas should abandon the bondage and corruption of the Western countries that remain under the yoke of neo-colonialism and race-based oppression. Marcus Garvey's teachings and writings on Ethiopianism and the philosophy of black liberation kindled aspirations advanced by the rising Rastafari movement. One option offered was repatriation to Shashamane, Ethiopia, where some Rastas settled by invitation of Emperor Haile Selassie I. This Exodus or return from captivity is the journey of repatriation to "Aitiyopia" or "Aifrika" (Ifrica).
However, for those who continue to dwell in exile, it is also the spiritual journey to a drug-free and vegan-based (aital) lifestyle in which the herb cannabis is the main plant used for ritual, medical and recreational purposes. (40) A big part of Babilan society revolves around producing, selling and consuming drugs that damage social cohesion and health like alcohol, tobacco and opiates. Rastas view alcohol as the corrupting drug of the colonial Christian legacy. As one of the products most corrosive to behavior and health, alcohol symbolizes the people and culture of enslavement and colonialism; it ensures complacency in Babilan. (41)
Tobacco and sugar have a deeper role in the Babylonian Captivity, however. As the British and other Caribbean colonists focused the energy of enslaved Africans on producing a sugar crop destined for rum drinkers and tobacco for cigarette smokers, Rastafarians consider both as the fundamental economic and symbolic building blocks of the European slave system. Sugar, alcohol and tobacco are toxins at the root of the slave population's misery. Alcohol and tobacco were important forms of currency in the European trade with slave trading African states like the kingdom of Dahomey. (42)
Given wine's formal place in many Christian communion rituals, wine stands in diametrical opposition to Rastafari cannabis smoking rituals--an opposition emphasized by the "chalice" of the song "Roots and Chalice." The chalis is the water pipe used for the smoking of sacramental cannabis flowers. Rastafari asserts the holiness of cannabis ganja seeds, plants, flowers and smoke. In the first verse, Chronixx uses the expression, luod op di kuchi, referring to the packing of the water pipe's bowl. As he celebrates this sacrament, he defines the ethics of consumption and behavior appropriate to the observance of Rasta.
In "Roots and Chalice," Chronixx offers many details about how to resist the "harassments" of Babylon. "Ai-man no jrink no rom" ("I-man drinks no rum"), underscores the Rasta interdiction of alcohol. (43) A friend approaches with tobacco, and is rebuked.
Si Viva komin wid di ruuts bokl deh Mi si Jahmiel, im a faawad wid a Graba Liif (44) Mi tek it fram im, an tel im, "duon kyari non a diiz!" See Viva coming with the roots bottle there I see Jahmel, he approaches with Grabba Leaf tobacco wraps I take it from him, and tell him, "don't carry any of these!"
The forbidden tobacco contrasts with the welcome "roots bottle"; ruuts, which of course means spiritual and artistic roots, here refers to a non-alcoholic herb and root beverage sweetened with honey or sugar. (45) Of course, Rastafari ritual cannabis smokers need to drink many healthy, nonalcoholic aital beverages to counteract dry mouth. So the sacramental "chalice" in which ganja is smoked is complemented, in the song's title, by the even more resonant pun on ruuts. As he "steams out" (surrounded by the smoke he and the pipe are generating), the singer uses the outro to specify more responsibilities of his Rasta life:
Neva kom wid no naif, ruolin wit mi spows, huh An Rasta na plie no kat nar no maws An mi rof an mi tof, plos mi miik and mi mail Fram mi shert tu mi shuus, wel kliin, nah nah sail I never come with a knife, rolling with my spouse, huh, And Rasta doesn't play any game of cat and mouse (46) And I'm rough and I'm tough, plus I'm meek and I'm mild From my shirt to my shoes, very clean, never ever soiled
The speaker espouses nonviolence and dedication to his wife, neither predator nor prey, able to be both tough and gentle as the occasion calls for it. He also advocates literal cleanliness, just as did the founders of Ethiopianism and Rastafari; for example, Athlyi wrote, "Be thou clean and pleasant, O generation of Ethiopia, for thou art anointed, moreover the angel of the Lord dwelleth with thee" and "I am a lover of cleanness, Lord of industry." (47)
In the outro of "Roots and Chalice," Chronixx refers to other things that he wants nothing to do with, including a bad triad from Jamaican folklore: "An mi a no nuo dopi, bat (48) nar no gos" ("And I don't know duppies, moths or ghosts"). A dopi ("duppy") is a spirit of the dead or kind of ghost. The dopi can be playful or malevolent spirits that help or harm the living. (49) Chronixx's disdain for these beings is part of the not uncommon rhetoric used against spirit-based religious traditions in Rastafari reggae in general. In Rasta talk, a dopi can also refer to "meat" since it once had a living spirit. (50) In a sense, then, these otherworldly messengers belong to the world of uncleanliness and disruption associated with Babylon, I will consider them here briefly.
The Rastafari reject the veneration or service of spirits; hence songs like "Duppy Conqueror" by Bob Marley in which Haile Selassie I defeats the dopi. The early Ethiopianists Garvey, Athlyi, and Pettersburg, and the first Rasta Leonard Howell, rejected English colonialism and European-heritage Christianity, but they were also at variance with the African-heritage religions focused on spirits and with the duppy folklore in Jamaica. For example, Pettersberg declared, "Peoples that is guilty of Obeah must not visit a Balm Yard. Nor in the Assembly of Black Supremacy." (51) The early sources suggest that Rastafari established itself in a multipolar and competitive religious and cultural setting. However, due to its tradition of literacy, Rastafari's adoption of the Bible gave Rastafari a textual edge over non-written traditions like Obeah. Reggae songs have been concerned with conquering what Rastafari perceive as the negativity of service to Obeah spirits.
A type of insider Rastafari language called Aiyarik or "dread talk" in the linguistics literature is woven into Rasta speech. Through the process of reasoning about the meaning of colonial traditions like the Bible or Standard English in the lives of Patwa-speaking African-Jamaicans, a number of changes emerged in the variety of Jamaican Patwa used by the Rastafari. I have discussed above some of the ideological terms special to Rastafari thought, but here I would like to consider some of the shifts as they appear in the Chronixx songs.
A highly significant syllable is ai or its pronominal version, Ai. "Start a Fyah" begins with the astonishing line, "Yes Ai, aili, Haili, Haili, Haili, Haili, a bon," The word aili is derived from "Haile" and is a de-nominal adjective that refers to the "holy" quality of Haile Selassie I. Aili also refers to cannabis sacramental herb. (52) In amongst all these invocations of "aili/Haile" is "Ai," a pronoun that, as I will attempt to suggest, is also an indicator of divinity.
Standard Jamaican Patwa includes of course personal pronouns which are used in Rasta discourse: from "Roots and Chalice" we have the line, "Mi pof it, den shi pof it, den ya pof it so." However, sometimes Patwa pronouns, irrespective of person, number, and subject/object case, are replaced with Ai or Ai an Ai. This pronominal construct ignores Patwa's grammatical requirements in order to emphasize the aiviniti (ai + divinity) of each person. For example, in the utterance, "Ai an Ai taakin tu di Ai ier" ("I am talking to him here"), the insertion of the definite article di distinguishes the third person. (53) Ai-man or aiyaman ("I-man") is a first person singular pronoun that places emphasis on the Rasta concept of Ai ("I") while replacing and substituting for the Standard Jamaican first person singular pronoun, mi: "Ai-man no jrink no rom" ("I-man drinks no rum," "Roots and Chalice") In most reggae songs, mi and Ai coexist in subject or object positions. The line, "Mi se a lov Ai and Ai priichin" ("I say love to I and I preaching"), in Chronixx's song "Start a Fyah," illustrates the ubiquity of Ai-expressions and their co-occurrence with mi. However, Ai in Rasta language contrasts with mi, a "secular" pronoun that reflects mundane connotations in reggae usage. In readings of the Bible, names like "Jesus Christ" are replaced with "Haile Selassie I" while pronouns are read as Ai.
The iconic speech act pronoun Ai-an-Ai ("I-n-I") denotes the equality of the speaker and hearer and the dissolving of distinctions between "you and I" or "we." Ai an Ai is a way of encoding the equality of Rastas and people of every origin in emphatic speech. Chronixx's use of Ai an Ai in the second track, "Start a Fyah," is a speech act that signifies and focuses on the specifically Rastafari action of "priichin / so evri laand ov heet wil bern " (54) The Ai an Ai speech act signals Rastafari preaching channeled through reggae, a force that burns heet ("hate") with lov ("love").
Rasta readers, speakers, and writers adjust many words to create a contrast between the dubious associations of syllables and sounds in the source term and the more positive sound and sense of the Rasta term. For example, "understand" becomes ovastan "overstand"; "dedication" (dead) becomes livikieshan "livication" (live); "appreciate" (hate) becomes aprishilov "apprecilove" (love), etc. Many words are prefixed with ai- "I" in order to shift the semantics of the word toward a Rasta meaning; for example, aiklerieshan ("iclaration") replaces "declaration," aidrin "idren" replaces "children," ailek replaces "elect," etc. (55) Some ai-words like ailalu ("callaloo, i.e. the vegetable amaranth") have spread widely in Jamaica, illustrating the ai's link to intimate aspects of life.
The ai-word aital mentioned in "Start a Fyah" combines ai with vaital ("vital") in referring to a vegetarian-fruitarian diet without salt, a dietary code that most Rastafari maintain. Athlyi Rogers posited that, "thou shall not eat the flesh of any animal, nor large fishes, neither shall ye drink of their blood or of their milk, thy victuals shall be fowl and tiny fishes [...] " (56) The Rasta philosopher Yasus Afari argues that humankind, "by virtue of the teeth structure and the digestive system is basically designed as a vegetarian [...] or lacto-vegetarian. We don't have the type of teeth or digestive system to be efficient flesh, blood and bone eaters." (57) The eating of slaughtered meat and the drinking of alcohol equate with the brutal colonial culture. In "Start a Fyah," aital also refers to smoked sacramental cannabis herb: "aital a bon," "aital is burning."
Ai-words express a Rasta pronominal concept that emphasizes the equality and oneness of Rastafari with "Jah Rastafari Haile Selassie I," pronounced ritually in dread talk as, Aili Ai Selasi Ai. In this way, Ai is the elevated, liberated, self-improving being in synch with Aili Ai Selasi Ai's work as King and in contrast to the more materialistically oriented mi-self Ai, Ai an Ai, Aili Ai Selasi Ai and Ja-Ai illustrate the core mystical linguistic revelations of Rastafari ("Rastafaraz" in Patwa). Common in reggae, Ja-Ai points to the presence of Ja within the Ai.
In the bridge of "Roots and Chalice," the singer declares, "Aits an giv a lidl lov, a lidl lov," which I have translated, "Spiritual elevation and give a little love, a little love," though it is difficult to render. The interjection Aits, from "heights" with the pronoun "I" prefixed in initial position, refers to a blissful state of consciousness and it is a greeting expression. Aile Aits is a greeting that refers to the heights of spiritual bliss that knowledge of Haile Selassie I represents.
European Christianity and the dopi spirits of Jamaican folklore are both "faked" and "deceiver[s]," according to Ras Leonard Howell. (58) Neither receives an upgrade in Chronixx (2012) nearly 80 years later. The rejection of European colonial religion is center stage in "Start a Fyah," whereas the criticism of traditional concepts like the dopi and gos is more casual in "Roots and Chalice," but is reinforced by concern for a way of life that will distance the Rastaman from them. The main tension that these songs resolve is the liberation of the enslaved. Enslavers of the Christian culture and religion forced Jamaicans and Rastas into a Caribbean social catastrophe. Rastafari culture and religion arose to liberate and advance Jamaicans, people of African heritage, and anyone who can lov. The Rastafari resolve colonial legacies by loving and valuing a culture focused on African and Jamaican values.
Rastafari is a philosophical and spiritual tradition centered on the veneration of Haile Selassie I, the example of his life and monarchy, his photographs and iconography, his speeches, and the traditions of Ethiopia. Along with the Ethiopian-centeredness, the writings of Caribbean Ethiopianists and the study of the Bible with Rasta exegetical methods reflect elements of a vast and universalist Rastafari culture.
Howell argued that "Black Supremacy is owned by King Alpha, the King of Kings," and that "His Majesty Ras Tafari is the head over all man for He is the Supreme God." (59) Howell preached the revelation about Haile Selassie I as the "King of Kings," "Prophet," "Priest," "Redeemer" and "Supreme God" in the 1930s. The Rastas' revelation about Haile Selassie I provided an alternative organizational, linguistic and symbolic order that set into motion a competitive religious and cultural movement that could replace the racist and faked ones carried by the white colonists and their descendants.
From a historical point of view, one sees recognizable patterns in the Hebrew Scriptures with Abraham turning away from the religion of his ancestors as he embraced monotheism. The anti-Judaism in the Christian New Testament also illustrates the tendency for polemical streaks to emerge in literature that attempts to push radical boundaries and set new agendas. (60) The burning of Catholic Ruom and the dismissal of the dopi spirits in these two reggae songs and in Rastafari source traditions in general, reflect the heated competitive space that religious movements operate within, and they reveal the profound impact of Ethiopianism in Rastafari. Each religious movement takes shape in a unique manner; however, the polemical and competitive features in Rastafari sources are also common to Jewish, Christian and Muslim literature. The Qur'an, for example, admonishes Muslims, Pagans, Christians, Jews, and others, for various reasons at different times.
Rastafari distinguishes itself from the "alien exploiters" who have no autochthonous claims to any land in the New World. (61) African-Jamaicans discovered the Christian religion of the invaders in the context of permanent and hereditary enslavement. Bondage is not a condition conducive to the flourishing of the slave master's alien faith. Such a religious and cultural mechanism of manipulation is ripe for conquest and reconfiguration. Indeed, since the beginning of the Caribbean colonial period, religious movements like Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santeria, or Jamaican Rastafari thoroughly repurpose elements of Christian tradition. The chromolithographs of Catholic Saints in Haiti, for example, are entirely associated with Vodou spirits today.
Rastafari draws Hebrew and Christian structures into its revelations. The idea of a chosen land and people of Ethiopia draws on essentialist traditions from the Hebrew Scriptures. The royal, priestly and messianic functions of Emperor Haile Selassie I blend Hebrew, Christian and African cultural and political conceptions, adding features that accentuate Africa (the focus on Haile Selassie I and Ethiopia) while shifting away from features dear to Europeans (the focus on Jesus Christ, Mary and the Apostle Paul). Chronixx's praise of Haile Selassie I and Rasta cultural practices like cannabis smoking and vegetarianism (aital), coupled with the spurning of Catholic Rome and the dopi spirits, draw on positions expressed in the earliest works of Ethiopianism and Rastafari dating from the first part of the twentieth-century. Successful roots revival artists like Chronixx demonstrate the abiding influence of Rastafari's source traditions in the finest contemporary reggae music.
Thanks are owed to Judy Shoaf for her skillful editorial work and to the two anonymous reviewers who made numerous corrections and suggestions to improve this work. 1 Larry Chang, Biesik Jumiekan (Washington: Chuu Wod, 2014); Di Jamiekan Nyuu Testiment (Kingston: Bible Society of the West Indies, 2012).
(2) The two songs I have chosen for transcriptions are "Staat a Fayah" and "Ruuts and Chalis." "Staat a Fayah" was issued as "Start a Fyah" (2012) by Jamar McNaughton (Chronixx), produced by Joshua Barlow ("Jungle Josh"), from the mixtape Major Lazer Presents: Chronixx & Walshy Fire: Starta Fyah. "Ruuts an Chalis" was issued as "Roots and Chalice" (2016) by Jamar McNaughton (Chronixx), both as a single (B side of "Out Deh" by Chronixx Music) and on the mixtape Roots and Chalice produced by Federation Sound.
(3) See the accompanying article for an extended discussion of the pronoun and prefix ai (Ai, aital, aili) in relation to Haile Selassie I.
(4) A layad is a "liar" in Jamaican Patwa. Frederic G. Cassidy and R. B. Le Page, Dictionary of Jamaican English (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 273.
(5) See the accompanying article for an extended discussion of "Rome" in this song.
(6) The eagle, dragon and bear are likely references to Revelations 12.
(7) Aital (also spelled ital) refers to natural and plant-based products which are good to consume. In this case, as it burns, the ital is cannabis.
(8) Yes Ai! is a common emphatic greeting and solidarity marker in Rasta speech.
(9) The word masiv is generalized from the dancehall scene to refer to a group of people (Kedon Willis p.c). Given the anti-establishment nature of dancehall, the word masiv is used colloquially to refer to a group of friends (or relative strangers) who are "with" you, more or less, in an ideological sense. Di masiv dem is a crew you can vibe with; Rastafari cannabis smokers represent such a crew. Here the expression di masiv dem is being used in an abstract sense for "people" who follow Chronixx (Kedon Willis p.c).
(10) Evil is burned up symbolically in the bowl of the water pipe packed with cannabis.
(11) Kedon Willis (p.c.) suggested the translation of "harass" here.
(12) Lidl is perhaps the North American pronunciation whereas the Standard Jamaican Patwa form is likl, also used in this song. Reggae lyrics often mix local Patwa with international English, satisfying several audiences at once.
(13) A bat is a flying insect like a butterfly or moth in Jamaican Patwa; see Richard and Jeannette Allsopp, Dictionary of Caribbean English usage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 83. In Patwa, a rat-bat is what North Americans refer to as a "bat" (Cassidy and Le Page, Dictionary, 32).
(14) See the accompanying article for an extended discussion of the meaning of "Babylon."
(15) The terms popa or don are used among reggae artists who emulate the lingo of chiefs, dons and powerful men (p.c. Diedre Houchen).
(16) Notice that the "null-pronominal" sentence lacks the pronoun ai or mi.
(17) Note the absence of the overt conjunction wen ("when"):.. . mi tek it fram (wen) mi waz a likl chail.
(18) See the liner notes on Bunny Wailer's album Reincarnated Souls (Miami: Tad's Records. 2013).
(19) Sarah Daynes, Time and Memory in Reggae Music: The Politics of Hope (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010), 64; for discussions of the topics in the next sentence, see 45,48, 56.
(20) Christopher R. Weingarten, et al.,"50 Best Albums of 2017," Rolling Stone 11/27/2017: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/50-best-albums-of-2017-123296/chronixx-chronology-125195/
(21) Patricia Meschino, "How Chronixx is Redefinding Reggae's Success Metrics" Billboard 9/25/2017: https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7973980/chronixx-redefining-reggae-dancehall-success-metrics.
(22) Marcus Garvey, The Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey: Or, Africa for the Africans, ed. Amy Jacques Garvey (1923 and 1925; Dover, Mass: The Majority Press, 1986); Robert Athlyi Rogers, The Holy Piby: The Black Man's Bible, ed. W. Gabriel Selassie I (1924; Los Angeles: Orunmilla, 2015); Fitz Balintine Pettersburg, The Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy, ed. W. Gabriel Selassie I (1925; Los Angeles: Orunmilla, 2015). Leonard Howell (as G. G. Maragh in 1935), The Promised Key, intro. Ras Miguel Lome, (1935; Kingston: Headstart Books and Crafts and Frontline Distribution International, 1995).
(23) Garvey, Philosophy & Opinions, 20. Further quotations from Garvey in this section will be cited by parenthetical page numbers.
(24) W. Gabriel Selassie I notes that, "H.I.M. is revered [by Rastas] as the returned messiah of the Bible, a manifestation of God here on earth, an Avatar" (Pettersburg, Royal Parchment Scroll, 1.
(25) Leonard E. Barrett, The Rastafarians: Sounds of Cultural Dissonance (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988), 81.
(26) Howell, Promised Key, 5.
(27) Yasus Afari, Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica's gift to the world (Kingston, Jamaica: Senya-Cum, 2007), 74. "Jah" is the name of God (cf Jehovah/Yahweh).
(28) The word aili is derived from "Haile" and is a de-nominal adjective that refers to the "holy" quality of Haile Selassie I. As a noun, aili also refers to cannabis sacramental herb (Afari, Overstanding Rastafari, 326). See the discussion below of the pronoun and prefix ai.
(29) The "trinity" or "triad" in Rastafari also refers to Marcus Garvey ("messiah"), Garvey's colleague, Robert Athlyi Rogers ("priest") and Haile Selassie I ("the King"). The Bobo Shanti replace Robert Athlyi Rogers with Holy Emmanuel Edwards, their priestly leader. See Jide Uwechia (Don Jaide), "God of the Nations: The Holy Black Trinity of Ethiopia" (2010) at https://www.africaresource.com/rasta/sesostris-the-great-the-egyptian-hercules/the-holy-trinity-of-ethiopia-the-three-gods-of-haile-selassie-i/
(30) Kalin Ray Salassi, Haile Sellassie [sic] and the Opening of the Seven Seals, ed. Shango Baku (Chicago: Frontline Distribution International, 1997), 82.
(31) Howell, Promised Key, 4.
(32) See Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (New York: Nation Books, 2016).
(33) This proverb is common in reggae, including in Bob Marley's song "Who the cap fits" from Rastaman Vibration (1976). In that song the proverb appears as, "Who di cap fit, let dem wear it." Kedon Willis (p.c.) points out that "as Rome is being used conceptually to refer to the hubris and corruption of a hegemonic European ideology, Chronixx tries to get a bit more concrete by saying if these ideas or actions apply to you (white supremacy, racism, etc.), then you are what Chronixx is talking about, that is, you are a guilty party."
(34) Robert Norris, Memoirs of the Reign of Bossa Ahddee, King of Dahomy: An Inland Country of Guiney... and a short account of the African slave trade (1789; London: Cass, 1968), 165.
(35) Caribbean cultures such as Haitian Vodou or Rastafari illustrate how reinterpreting tools of oppression like Christianity represents a liberating dynamic in a context of "permanent and hereditary" exploitation and humiliation. The radical reinterpretation of Catholic saints in a Vodou context or Biblical traditions through a Rastafari lens illustrates the tendency to appropriate and reassemble in Caribbean religious traditions.
(36) Jah ova ivil reflects the Rasta adage of "good over evil" (Afari, Overstanding Rastafari, 78). The idea that good ultimately conquers evil is commonly proclaimed in reggae and reflects the setbacks and successes in the career of Emperor Haile Selassie I.
(37) Babilan ("Babylon") is the Biblical moniker used by the Rastafari for the "Western system and its agents of colonialism, slavery and international injustice" (Afari, Overstanding Rastafari, 323). Babilan can refer to non-believers, abusive police and military forces, and opponents of the Rasta worldview. See Frederic G. Cassidy and R. B. Le Page, Dictionary of Jamaican English (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 16.
(38) Robert Dunston, "Exile," in Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Watson E. Mills, (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1990), 276
(39) E.g. the fourteenth-century residency of the Popes in Avignon instead of Rome was and is often referred to as a Babylonian captivity.
(40) Afari, Overstanding Rastafari, 13.
(41) Isaac and Big Youth, two Rastafari who I befriended in South Africa in 1995-6, likewise analyzed the production of wine by the descendants of white colonists in the Cape region as an expression of a destructive global culture of alcoholism and colonialism. In rejecting alcohol, South African Rastafari point to the culture of racism, violence and alcohol-abuse that corroded the white population under Apartheid rule in South Africa. For the Rastafari, it is no coincidence that the alcohol-imbibing descendants of the colonists are the leading proponents of the war on cannabis in Western societies. The Rastafari contend that the normalization of alcohol use and abuse heavily influence the bellicose and genocidal cultures of the West.
(42) I. A. Akinjogbin, Dahomey and its Neighbours, 1708-1818 (Cambridge: Cambridge University.Press, 1967), 135.
(43) Afari, Overstanding Rastafari, 158.
(44) Graba Liif refers to the popular brand of cigar wrap called "Grabba Leaf."
(45) This tonic is now sold in Jamaican stores and good quality ones can be healthy and delicious (p.c. Diedre Houchen).
(46) This, along with "Who the cap fits" in "Start a Fyah," provides an example of a Jamaican proverb that is used in reggae lyrics, a rich topic explored in Anand Prahlad, Reggae wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican music (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001).
(47) Athyli Rogers, The Holy Piby, 14, 52.
(48) In Haitian culture, large moths ("bats") are taken as omens of evil spirits, also apparently the case in Chronixx's reference.
(49) Cassidy and Le Page, Dictionary, 164; Thomas H. Slone, Rasta is cuss (Oakland, CA: Masalai Press, 2003), 44.
(50) Slone, Rasta is cuss, 45.
(51) Pettersburg, Royal Parchment Scroll, 39. The Balm Yard is "a Holy place that is wholly consecrated to God almighty for the cleansing and healing of the Nations" (34); ironically, it has now come to be associated with the magical practices termed Obeah.
(52) Afari, Over standing Rastafari, 26.
(53) Velma Pollard, Dread Talk: The Language of the Rastafari (Kingston: Canoe Press, 1994), 12.1 follow Pollard frequently in this discussion.
(54) The term priichin captures the mission of the Rastafari movement, an extraverted outlook that has spread the tradition all over the world. Reggae music and Rastafari books have been the most notable influence in the globalization of the Rastafari movement. I have discussed above the sense that Garvey and his followers were both preaching and prophesying.
(55) Pollard, Dread Talk, 12.
(56) Athlyi Rogers, The Holy Piby, 24.
(57) Afari, Overstanding Rastafari, 143.
(58) Howell, Promised Key, 22.
(59) Howell, Promised Key, 5, 13.
(60) John Townsend, "Anti-Judaism in the New Testament," in Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, 33-34.
(61) Garvey, Philosophy & Opinions, 53.
Translated from German by William Ruleman
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Delos: A Journal of Translation and World Literature|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2019|
|Previous Article:||The Challenge of Proverbs in Translation: A Case Study.|