Marcus Garvey’s prophecies and philosophy shaped, the Rastafari movement.
Although Marcus Garvey was never a follower of the Rastafari movement or believed in it (he was a Roman Catholic), he is considered to be one of the religion’s prophets, because it was his ideologies that eventually grew into Rastafari.
He believed that all black people should return to their rightful homeland Africa, and was heavily involved in promoting the Universal Negro Improvement Association.
Garvey couldn’t find the support for his movement to succeed in Jamaica so he decided to go to the US but his philosophies gave Rasta’s the guidance they needed to rise above their oppressors which led them to create a movement.
When he was leaving for the US in 1916, he gave a farewell speech in which he told his followers: “Look to Africa for the crowning of a black king, he shall be the Redeemer.”
After he left many of his followers still gathered together, but they had no leader to follow. In 1930, a man named Ras Tafari was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia. He took the name Haile Selassie, which means “Might of the Trinity.” The news of a black African king reached Jamaica, where some ministers began to preach that Garvey’s prophesy had come true.
Rastafarians named Hallie Selassie their king with the inspiration of Garvey, reinforced by passages from the Bible. To them Ras Tafari’s coronation was the fulfilment of a prophecy and that he was their redeemer, the messiah written of in the Bible’s Book of Revelation: “King of Kings, Lord of lords”.
When a group of Rastafarians went to Ethiopia to honour Selassie, an official of the palace told them to leave. The official did not want to upset the emperor, who was a devout Christian. This strengthened the Rastafarians’ belief because they claimed their god is not supposed to know he is a god. Haile Selassie visited Jamaica in 1966, and witnessed four days of mass hysteria and worship.
Originally Rasta’s believed that Selassie would arrange for a deliverance, which, as they believed it, involved a miraculous transformation. They would be spirited away from their lives of poverty in the Caribbean and relocated in Africa, the land of their ancestors and their spiritual epicentre.
Still to this day, Africa is the desired destination for some Rasta’s but others feel it is where their spiritual roots lie and it brings consciousness and hope. Garvey felt his movement was successful even if it was only in a spiritual sense, as long as people were encouraged by the ideas.
There are many, many reggae songs written about Marcus Garvey, Haile Selassie and Rasta’s return to Africa.