November 11, 1982
Professor Michael Witter of the University of the West Indies, former Cabinet Advisor to Prime Minister of Jamaica Michael Manley, spoke about 20th century political thought “From Garvey to Ras Tafari” as part of an Africana Studies Lecture Series on “Black Political Thought.” Witter described Ras Tafarian nationalism—so named in honor of Ras Tafari who, as Halie Silasse, became the King of Ethiopa in 1930—as a second movement in Jamaican nationalism, following on "Bourgeois nationalism." "In the 1960s," he explained, "the Jamaican economy grew through foreign investment; the kind of growth that brought an unequal distribution of income."
The Rastafari movement proclaimed the Pan-Africanism of early 20th century Jamaican leader Marcus Garvey as its guiding principle. "The Ras Tarfari," wrote Christopher Ortiz '86 in The Miscellany News, "sought repatriation to the African homeland. 'Rastafara is the embodiment of this repatriation,' he said. The importance of the Ras Tafarian movement is that its philosophy articulated the true feelings of political thought as the masses saw it.... In Jamaica you have a history of an independent peasantry. Its primary articulation has been through Reggae music." The Miscellany News