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'Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned'

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY: The late Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie

TODAY, July 23, Rastafari all over the world will be celebrating the 124th Earthday/birthday of His Imperial Majesty (H.I.M), Emperor Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion from the tribe of Judah.

It was Jamaica’s greatest prophet and first national hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who brought the news of the impending crowning to the Jamaican people in the late 1920s, with the immortal words: “Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned. He shall be the redeemer.”

In 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen, born on July 23rd 1892, was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia. The coronation was attended by representatives from 72 countries and the young Ras went on to inspire a nation.

Growing up in the UK, I often saw pictures of ‘white Jesus’ adorning the walls of houses occupied by black people. This image made me – and many fellow black people of my generation – very confused about religion. I suppose we wanted to find our very own black prophet – a redeemer.

One of my original teachers in the ways and the life of a Ras was a longtime bredrin and elder in the Church of Rastafari The 12 tribes. His name is Mr Lloyd Forbes AKA ‘Taylor Benji’, and he will be celebrating the Emperor’s Earthday, as per usual. I asked him how and when Rastafari came into his life.

“Well, my first encounter with the teachings of H.I.M came when I was a little yout’, about 10 years old in Kingston, Jamaica,” Benji recalled.

“I used to move around a lot of Rastaman and they used to show I & I wisdom and knowledge, that Selassie was God but I did not understand what they meant. A few years later, when I was about 12 or 13, they said that Selassie was coming to Jamaica in 1966.

“He was passing at the bottom of my road on North Street, so I went out there to see him.”

PROPHECY: Marcus Garvey predicted that a “black king” would be crowned in Africa

Laughing, Benji added: “It was the first time that I saw a Rastaman asking a policeman for a lighter to light him big spliff!”

I asked Benji if he managed to catch a glimpse of the Emperor.

“Yeah man,” he said. “Me stand up and watch him pass. Me just see this little man dressed in an army suit waving to the people. Later that night when I went to bed, I had a vision that he visited me at my window. I was very frightened, but when I woke up, I understood what the elders had been saying to me.

“Because of that vision, I started to locks up my head and follow the teachings of Rastafari. I was truly inspired by the vision.”

I then asked him if the teachings of H.I.M, which had inspired both of us to change our lives back then, is it still resonant with the youths of today.

“Yes,” Benji said without hesitation. “There is no other teaching like it on Earth and there is nothing that I learnt from him as a man, a King or an Emperor that I wouldn’t teach my children.”

As a way of marking the day, Benji said it is usually done with celebrations and gathering of Rastafari, giving thanks, reading the Bible and reasoning every year at the 12 Tribes in London, Jamaica, USA, Africa and the rest of the world. I certainly will be reading a chapter or two.

To all Rasses everywhere, have a joyful and irie celebration.

More love, LR

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