Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lucid

Lucid

A soft glow broke the darkness
And then her name appeared...
For seconds, I could only look
As I mistook the cadence of the call
With the palpitations of my heart
It started pulling apart my sleep
And so I reached out for the source
This lucid torch in the blackness
Groping for, hoping for the chance
To hear her voice, to catch her trance
Yet my hand combed the expanse
Of dark d├ęcor in my bedroom corner
Until light could be seen no longer
And the stillness of night returned
A quiet slumber fell upon me
Murky haze had filled my eyes
My conscious already capsized
Tumbling me into a sea of dreams
Where it seemed like I was there
Enveloped between her warmth
Or the thoughts of such...
While I lay curled up alone
Disturbed by my phone

JMC
11/28/09
(c) 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kingly Character: A Narrative

Imagine a world on the very edge of crisis. The radios and newspapers are full of rumors of war and in just a mere matter of years these rumors will manifest on a scale unseen before. In Germany and Italy, fascism begins to spill out from obscure corners, bleeding radicalized thoughts that start to captivate entire nations of people, while in turn attempting to annihilate others. In Soviet Russia, harsh state policies and suppression have many living in fear of Stalin's power. In Asia, unbridled imperialism is on the rise and nations will be falling into chaos. The United States is in the throes of an economic failure and the effects of the Great Depression are becoming a harsh reality. Finally, the colonial powers of Europe still have their talons sunk into Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean with no end in sight. Some months ago, Mohandas Gandhi lead the non-violent Satyagraha movement of the Purna Swaraj in the Salt March in India, inspiring Indians to resist the British Empire... but since then violent clashes and massacres have made the headlines. This was the climate of 1930, a time of upheaval and a year of uncertainty.

During this same time, on November 2, 1930, a man of small stature known as Ras Tafari Makonnen is proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia. He is given the name Haile Selassie I, "Might of the Trinity", and the titles "King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God". Later on, Selassie I will also take the title “Defender of the Faith” for his devotion to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Christianity in general. He now sits on the ancient throne of Ethiopia, a country seemingly forgotten by time, yet at the very root of human history. His coronation makes him the 225th Emperor of Ethiopia, a lineage claiming descent from King Solomon of ancient Israel. More than just a legend, the Ethiopian people had upheld the tradition of ancient Hebraic religious practices for thousands of years as well as a claim to possess the Ark of the Covenant. When Christianity arrived in Ethiopia, it was an ancient brand, untouched by the politicization of the faith by the Roman Empire. Finally, Ethiopia remained the only African country to resist European colonization (besides Liberia), having defeated the Italian invaders in the Battle of Adwa in 1896. This is the legacy that His Imperial Majesty now inherits. All eyes seem to gaze on Haile Selassie I, especially the envious eyes of Mussolini, who in a few years will seek a twisted form of revenge against Ethiopia for the Italian defeat at Adwa.

Now imagine living in Jamaica during the year 1930, a small island nation under the rule of the British Empire. Three years ago an outspoken activist, Marcus Garvey, had told those who would listen to look to Africa for the crowning of a black king. He has been encouraging Jamaicans and other people of the African Diaspora to unite and join together, to resist white colonial powers, and repatriate back to Africa to live in their ancestral homeland and fight against outside aggressors. His message of black pride has been popular with the struggling class, eking out a living from days spent on sugarcane plantations in rural communities. Stories and photos have circulated before on Ras Tafari Makonnen, the visits he made to various countries, the power and dignity he seemed to possess… something that seemed so far out of reach for the common man, a black man in the western hemisphere. Growing up in church, you’ve long heard stories from preachers and ministers about the Promised Land, Israel captivated by the Babylonians, the wise King Solomon, the Ark of the Covenant, and of the Book of Revelations. Sometimes the trials of your life and your loved ones seem to echo the accounts written in the Bible. Suddenly in a November news article, you read of Ras Tafari on his Coronation Day… a black king of this mystical nation, Ethiopia, crowned emperor! You see photos of him and his queen in their robes, surrounded by all nations of people. You find out that Emperor Haile Selassie I is given the very same titles, “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of Judah…” revealed in the Scriptures, names that follow the coming of Jesus Christ. This is prophecy revealed! Soon, preachers like Leonard Howell and Joseph Hibbert help bring about the Rastafari movement… though a movement, some would say, established since Creation.

Forward on to now. Rastafari has grown since that day in November of 1930, His Imperial Majesty’s Coronation. It has become worldwide. However, first we must look to H.I.M. Haile Selassie I himself, because the story did not end with H.I.M. being crowned emperor of an ancient monarchy, even though that is all it took for him to earn the adoration and reverence of millions. His story is that of a wise and benevolent leader, for whom there has been no comparison in terms of importance and accomplishment. He fought against the evil forces of Italian fascism and imperialism, and still offered forgiveness for his transgressors. He stood with defiance before the League of Nations and later boldly addressed the United Nations. His leadership brought light to the African continent, for so long perceived and dismissed as the “Dark Continent”. He helped establish the Organization of African Unity. He addressed human rights without regard to color or creed, at home and abroad. He shared his rule with his people, giving the Ethiopians their first constitution and handing down liberties unknown before in his nation. He helped build schools and hospitals in an effort to modernize his country while keeping its traditional integrity. He met with leaders of nations from all over the world, and visited their countries. Although a devout Ethiopian Orthodox Christian he had an ecumenical outlook and met with various other church leaders even building relations with the Vatican and with other religious faiths such as Islam. He visited Jamaica and Trinidad and met with Rastafari elders there, as well as political leaders to discuss the well-being of his admirers and followers in the West. He also gave a portion of land called Shashamane in Ethiopia as a show of support to those Rastafari people and those of the African Diaspora who wished to repatriate back to Africa. While all of these are significant achievements, they only skim the surface because there so many more things to mention on His Majesty. However it shows that H.I.M. Haile Selassie I was not a mere symbol or relic of some biblical dynasty… he is the Comforter in this time!

Rastafari is a worldwide phenomenon now, with all kinds of people from all parts of the earth, but some forget about why I&I chant “Rastafari”. It is because of His Majesty! As made known, the Emperor speaks for himself. His wisdom equaled that of his ancestor, Solomon. He showed what it meant to be a follower of Iyesus Kristos (Jesus Christ), revealed Christ in His Kingly Character, and showed a way of peace to the people of the world. His utterances and his actions will outlast and endure throughout the ages. He came to power during a time of war and calamity and guarded over JAH people, his nation and those of others, like a shepherd guards his flock. He encouraged people to have a spiritual outlook, to love JAH, and take care of one another. He encouraged progressive behaviors. Surely JAH Spirit dwelled within H.I.M., the Holy Spirit of the Comforter. Rastas declare to the nations that Haile Selassie I is the foundation in this time… all Rastafari venerate and follow Selassie I. Not all within the movement may agree on how to uphold H.I.M., but it is love and respect that reign over the different points of view because nobody can deny Selassie I and his example. So, I hail H.I.M. up as an ambassador to the King of Kings! Give thanks for the crowning of Haile Selassie I!

Hail The Comforter,
JAHsh