Rastafari Reason


Rastafari is a… what? A faith? A movement? the Rastafari term is “livity”. Terminological difficulty speaks to the broader difficulty of “grounding” with Rastafari and taking seriously its ethics, practices, cosmologies and histories, all of which are dynamic, contested and, to those who are not grounding with Rastafari, counter-intuitive. And yet Rastafari has been so infrastructionally influential not only to the global politics of the 20th and 21st century but to many social and political theorists including Sylvia Wynter, Orlando Patterson, Walter Rodney, and the list goes on. I want to present Rastafari, on its own terms – not translated – as an edifying, generous and dynamic body of reasoning on the global condition raised, as the elders say, “out of the dust” of the poorest of the poor and the blackest of the black.



  • Sylvia Wynter – “A Dream Deferred: Will the Condemned Rasta Fari ever Return to Africa?” - Below is a duplication of an article by Sylvia Wynter, which I found in the UK National Archives, entitled: A Dream Deferred: Will the Condemned Rasta Fari ever Return to Africa? I have tried to find this article reprinted elsewhere, but have failed. It was originally published in “Tropic”, October 1960, pp.50-51. So, just in […]
  • More on the Abyssinian general from Guyana - In a previous blog I looked at the impact of the Italian/Ethiopian war on the African peoples of Guyana.  I related an incident, in October 1935 – the month that Italy invaded Ethiopia – that was reported in 1936 during a hearing of those labour disputes that had rocked the colony. In Demerara, an oversee […]
  • The many meanings of Haile Selassie I - In my last blog I bemoaned the return of the theatre adaptation of  Ryszard Kapuściński’s famous book The Emperor. I criticized the portrait of Haile Selassie I in the book and the play, a portrait of a feudal gothic overlord that even Kapuściński later refuted. I worried about the consistent artistic reduction of all things African to […]
  • There is more to Ethiopia and Africa than Dog Piss - I write this blog as a response to the new production of a play  due to run at the Young Vic, London, based on Ryszard Kapuściński’s famous book The Emperor, about the final days of the reign of Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia. The book was turned into a play in the late 80s. Salman […]
  • RasTafari and reparation time - I’ve just published a little piece about the August 1st reparation march through London on OpenDemocracy. You can access it here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/robbie-shilliam/rastafari-and-reparation-time
  • Rastafari Letters from the Mission to Africa - In April 1961, Rastafari members of the Mission to Africa passed through London. In Notting Hill, on the day of leaving for Ethiopia, the Brethren wrote two letters, which I reproduce here: “With all thy getting get understanding” Vox Populi Vox Dei, I.N.R.I. “The Just shall live by his faith” The Rastafari Brethren of Jamaica […]
  • Back when Britain loved Rastafari - On 21st April 1966, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I touched down in Palisadoes airport, Kingston, Jamaica. Thousands thronged the airport, rushing over barriers and through police lines towards the plane as it came to a stop. Ethiopian banners, ites gold and green colours flew everywhere. Chanting of His Majesty’s name filled the air. Never […]
  • The impact of the 1935 Italian/Ethiopian War in Guyana - Common knowledge has it that it was in Jamaica where the Rastafari faith was first and foremost proclaimed. This is true; however, this truth belies the wider impact of the Italian/Ethiopian war of 1935/6 on the Caribbean region, and especially on its peoples of African heritage. African peoples in Jamaica were not the only ones […]
  • A Global Story of Psalms 68:31 - Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God Psalms 68:31 is part of the global story of colonialism, enslavement, the “civilizing mission” and self-liberation. We can pick up the story with the King James version of the Bible, translated into the vernacular in 1611. At this time it is […]
  • Garvey’s Vision - On Sunday 10 June I gave the 3rd Marcus Garvey Annual Memorial Lecture. Convened by the Marcus Garvey Organizing Committee of the Pan Afrikan Society Community Forum, the lecture was held at Birkbeck College, University London. The venue is significant, being the college that Garvey studied at in 1912 during his first sojourn in London. […]


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