Sunday, July 5, 2009

Red Yellow and Green

   Ahh, the famous colors used for a cornucopia of different reasons. Let me guess, you think the colors red, yellow and, green stand for Jamaica... you have the image of a dark man with dread locks smoking a joint, right? Well you should know, that is very wrong. Let me explain to you what the colors mean, jah man, I mean RASTA.

                     Marley Bob - Rastaman

      Yes, this is a picture of Bob Marley, a reggae icon. I've been listening to his music since I was around 7 years old, even before that. Of course I never cared- or knew, what he stood for, or why there was a picture of Haile Selassie on the back of his guitar, but now, I am fully aware of him and his beliefs. Bob Marley, like a small amount of other Jamaicans, was a Rastafarian. For those of you who don't know what being a Rastafarian means, I'll finally break it down for you. 'Rastas' are rare nowadays because they live in secluded areas. They believe that Haile Selassie, one of the most popular Ethiopian emperors is there Ina Carte, or a messiah. Why? Because it rained on the day Emperor Selassie arrived after a long period of drought. In other words, they believed he 'made it' rain. After that, some Jamaicans began to praise him and honor him- some even moved to Ethiopia... and now is when the colors kick in. Ethiopia's flag colors are RED, YELLOW, AND GREEN. The Jamaicans who honored Emperor Selassie became known as Rastafarians, and they were so committed to believing in Emperor Selassie as the messiah, that they... well, hoarded to Ethiopia. They believed that this was 'Exodus' (also a title of one Marley's songs) as they made their descend to Ethiopia. They live(d) in a little town where they farmed in the country side of Ethiopia, away from common civilizations. This is Shashemene:

    As is depicted in the photo above, Rastafarians take to the streets, and note that there is only one head of dreads. So not only have the Jamaican Rastafarians overused Ethiopia's flag colors, but also the symbol of Ethiopian pride, the Black Lion of Judah. Over time, some Ethiopians have become suspicious of the the Rastas as there has been an 'increase in drugs and crime'. Some believe it's prejudice, others just want the tension to melt by listening to music and 'uniting' as Marley liked to say. Maybe that's the reason for the common stereotype Rastas have been categorized with; Dreads for carelessness and drugs for relaxation- all that life should consist of, they would like to think. (Before I forget, there are some ITALIAN Rastafarians in Shashemene, showing the diversity in ethnicities not only in Ethiopia, but in Rasta communities). I found it interesting and a bit unique because, again, of the stereotypical image of Rastafarians. But, as some don't know, Ethiopia still has a tiny community of Israeli's that also live in Shashemene, believe it or not. I'm not going to get into the Israel/Ethiopia story because it's much too long and very detailed, I'll save it for another blog posting. So there you are friends, the meaning of the colors, the lifestyle, and belief. Jah man, you better remember this next time you prance around wearing red, yellow, and green! Don't smoke cannabis because it's the 'cool' thing to do, or because you feel 'Jamaican'- you have no excuses now that you know the true meaning of Rasta. 
    *Does anyone else that understands Rastafarianism or doesn't treat Reggae and Marley like a fad or trend, feel frustrated when they see someone chewing bubble gum while texting or someone who has never listened to more than one song by Bob Marley wearing a red, yellow, and green Bob Marley shirt? I find it EXTREMELY annoying. Comment [with a yes] if you agree, please!

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