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The Rastafarians’ Flawed African ‘Promised Land’

Jamaican Man.jpg

Photo: Mattstone911 (CC)

Many people think of Rastafarians as dreadlocked Jamaicans for whom marijuana is a sacred herb. Partly true, but there’s much more to their beliefs, including the promised land in Ethiopia. BBC News Magazine reports:

Forty years ago Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was overthrown. It was a blow for all Rastafarians, who revere him as a god – and for those Rastafarians who had emigrated to Ethiopia, life suddenly got more difficult.

In 1948 Emperor Haile Selassie gave 500 acres (200 hectares) of land at Shashamene, 150 miles (225km) south of Addis Ababa, to black people from the West who had supported him in his struggles with Mussolini’s Italy.

The first settlers to arrive were African-American Jews, but they soon moved on to Liberia or Israel. After them, in 1963, came a dozen Rastafarians, and the numbers swelled after Selassie made an emotional visit to Jamaica three years later.

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