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Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome and Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum - page 16 / 27

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Africans on the Move: Transnational, Intranational, and Metaphorical Migrations

Rastafarians is that there is a need for revolutionary change through self empowerment. Self empowerment is only possible when people understand their culture and are properly connected with it such that they achieve a decolonization of the mind. Proper reasoning is taught in informal social and intellectual gatherings of ordinary folk under the guidance of a leader/elder/teacher who motivates them to collectively engineer change based on analysis of reality as they experience it.

Rastafarians believe that the liberation of Africa and Africans are the pre-eminent goals to which the rehabilitation and liberation of the absent and marginalized Jamaican father is hinged. Slavery, colonization and the consequent dislocations within the African family created poverty, wrenched African males from the bosom of their families and kept them alienated in the inner-city ghettoes of urban Jamaica. Rastafarian thought is also presented as encompassing a progressive revision of Caribbean history to resist negative and destructive institutions, structures and ideologies. The African father is absent, made so by these negative influences that were set in motion by European imperialism. Because institutionalized slavery also destroyed the African family and supplanted the fathers within them with the white male plantation owners, while Britain became the surrogate mother country, progressive resistance would heal the psychological wounds of Caribbean people who must recover from being stolen, sold, abused and oppressed. Female dominance in the absence of the father in the postcolonial urban ghettos put overwhelming burdens on mothers.

Rastafarians criticized colonialism, claiming their African identity, and deriving inspiration from support by Emperor Haile Selassie, the Ras Tafari. Emperor Selassie is deified as the almighty Godhead and Father who provided strategies, tools and mechanisms through which liberation could practically be achieved. The knowledge of what to do came from study and teaching about Africa and its philosophies. The leadership of the Elders who drew upon Christian methods of proselytization, and interpretation, played a crucial part in this effort, which led to the development of a national movement that garnered a great deal of intellectual and legal attention. Even the colonial government was interested. The use of music to spread the word was so effective that young people around the world were inspired and persuaded that the Rastafarian way was the best one to self-liberation.

The 1960s brought its share of protests to the Caribbean. In Jamaica, there were struggles against the repressive system of law enforcement, which targeted the Rastafarians. This spurred Rastafarian appeals to the intelligentsia based in the University of the West Indies to study the movement and explain its relevance to the government. For the first time, a multidisciplinary intellectual study of the movement was conducted. It recommended repatriation, which for the Rastafarians, is central to their new Ethiopianist

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