Rastas seek 'council' on rights
published: Sunday | September 16, 2007
Krista Henry, Staff Reporter
As the start of the Ethiopian Millennium began in a
shower of red, green and gold on Tuesday September 11,
so too opens a new era of unity among the Rastafarian
As the global Rastafarian community joined with
Ethiopia and Africa to celebrate the new millennium,
so too did the 13 mansions of the Rastafari community
join together to form the Ethio-Africa Diaspora Union
Millennium Council (EADUMC). According to Ras Junior
Manning, the council's chairman, "the council is an
executive of over 13 mansions come together to deal
with Rastafarian activities. One of the main
objectives is the millennium and the function for that
was held at the Mandela Park".
the 13 mansions of Rastafari
At the function the 13 mansions of Rastafari -
Nyahbinghi Ancient Council, 12 Tribes of Israel,
School of Vision, Royal Ethiopian Judah Coptic Church,
Haile Selassie Theocracy Government, Ethiopian
Orthodox Organisation, David House, International
Peacemakers, Camp David, Ethiopian World Federation
and Leonard Howell Foundation - all came together.
According to Manning, the aim of the council is to
speak with one voice, to take Rastafari in one
direction, the objective being to sensitise and
educate not just Rastas, but the world on issues
important to them and to build a strong unity among
the mansions. Among the major objectives are
reparation and repatriation, formalisation of the
Ancient Council and intellectual property and economic
In terms of intellectual property and economic
empowerment, over the years businessmen,
anthropologists, musicians, videographers and others
have dealt informally with various groups of Rastafari
for cultural and financial gain, with no benefits
accruing to the members of the faith as a collective.
Manning explains that "we know the situation where
people use our colours, our words. When you look in
the Jamaican advertising system you see the red, gold
and green, some form of Rasta. You see it when they
use it at Sumfest and Sunsplash. The Rastas might
perform, but the Rastas aren't really the ones
benefiting. You have words such as 'irie', 'iPod'
phone; is Rasta business again. We start the 'I-ness'.
We have not claimed what we create. We want to protect
our image, when we look and see things like a gangsta
Rasta, Rasta don't promote gangsta".
In order to do this, the the council has been in touch
with the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
According to www.wipo.int, "the World Intellectual
Property Organisation (WIPO) is a specialised agency
of the United Nations. It is dedicated to developing a
balanced and accessible international intellectual
property (IP) system which rewards creativity,
stimulates innovation and contributes to economic
development while safeguarding the public interest.
WIPO's vision is that IP (intellectual property) is an
important tool for the economic, social and cultural
development of all countries. This shapes its mission
to promote the effective use and protection of IP
The EADUMC hopes to set a standard for Rastafari with
the help of the WIPO that everyone worldwide would
have to follow.
The Millennium Ceremony at Livity Restaurant, Haining
Road, New Kingston, on September 11, was the first
forum designed to sensitise the nation. According to
Manning, entertainers such as Sizzla Kalonji, Tony
Rebel and Ini Kamoze have been instrumental, helping
to give sponsorship to the cause. Manning claimed
"Sizzla Kalonji must be commended as a true solider
for the cause.
However, not all entertainers have met to their
approval, including Munga Honourable, the
self-proclaimed 'Gangsta Ras' who they believe gives a
wrong impression of Rasta. Munga, however, told The
Sunday Gleaner that there is nothing wrong in his
image as the gangsta ras, for gangsta is not
necessarily a bad thing.
He said "I think I'm miscalculated and misjudged
because I do portray the hardcore. Rasta should not be
limited in vocabulary or life in general. Mi nah tek
on no limitation, we can use 100 words; at the end of
the day its a choice.We have our point to get across.
We (Rasta artistes) perform for audiences of different
genres, different beliefs and there should be no
limitation in topic or words".
Singer Tarrus Riley he can see the point behind the
council's cause and he stated that Rasta, Africa and
Jamaica should benefit from the intellectual property
rights of Rastafarianism. "The money made off these
tings should be given to di people who dem tings are
indigenous to, who defend di faith, but for dat to
happen it would have to be strict. All of us have to
organise and centralise, physically, mentally and
financially," he said.
As a singer, words are his medium to bring the message
across to the people. And according to Manning, there
are many entertainers who have supported the Council,
but those that aren't should be doing more for
Rastafari, as the Millennium Council's purpose is to
protect the cultural sovereignty and intellectual
property for Rastafarians locally and globally.