Nana Farika Speaks: The Ras Tafari Woman
The Rastafari woman has existed from the inception of the Rastafari way of life. She has played a crucial role in the rise of the Rastafari movement, in the culture’s stability and its survival. She has endured the persecution and genocide that the movement endured from the thirties until recent times. She has participated in every major historical event within Rastafari. She has been in the mix of all successful conferences held by the Rastafari to chart the movement’s course working in the forefront, beside the brethren or discreetly behind them. She lived in Pinnacle, the first Rastafari commune and possessed economic strength from her industry Her economic wealth was documented by the police recording of how much money she had in her dwelling when they raided the commune and scatted its inhabitants.
Over the years, because of the hardship and ostracization she had to endure when the movement became landless, her numbers dwindled and she was pushed into the background of the Rastafari scenario. The movement became so male focused that the Omega balance was forgotten by many brethren. Very little attention has been paid to her in the numerous books, films and intellectual writings that have emerged on the Rastafari movement. She has almost been totally ignored. Of late she is being “discovered by portraying her as an oppressed person waiting to be liberated from the tyranny of male chauvinist Rastafari males.
Today’s Rastafari woman needs to become knowledgeable of the Rastafari woman’s journey as a mother, a spiritually evolved person, freedom fighter, teacher, wife and leader, provider of the Omega balance of the male Alpha and other positive roles she has been called upon to fulfill. The crucial role of African women in world history has been woefully under represented. During Women’s history month, the Rastafari woman needs to join in the celebration of women’s achievement taking place and use it as motivation to research her journey.
Woman’s history month segues into April celebrations of the birth of Empress Menen, wife of Emperor Haile Selassie 1, Queen Mother of Ethiopia and of the Rastafari nation. The emperor pointed the way to the need for Omega balance by insisting that his queen be crowned with him in the church on November 2, 1930, signaling his recognition of her spirituality. (Previously the Empress was crowned a week after the emperor and was not crowned n the church). Empress Menen’s relationship with the Emperor during their marriage, her community building efforts and devotion to her church are examples to be followed.
The Rastafari woman’s role in Jamaica over the years had become so subordinate that there was a marked shortage of us. Elder Bongo Isaac stated,” It is easier to raise 100 Rastafari males in Jamaica than one Rastafari woman. “ The Rastafari woman today needs to be aware of this legacy versus her true history. She must use her female intellect to uncover a coherent picture of her journey and destiny. Intergeneration reasoning among Rastafari woman (and enlightened Rastafari males who apprecilove woman of reason) will give guidance to the host of young women now flooding the Rastafari movement in unprecedented numbers. We must discover how Rastafari can empower the Rastafari woman to fulfill ourselves. Our journey must include being nurturers who pay attention to our health needs. We must strive harder to keep free from dangerous diseases snuffing out too many Rastafari lives. We must learn how to raise the Rastafari child without the confusion and frustration of Babylon ways.. Our role of motherhood must cease to be selfishly nuclear and return to contributing to the revolutionary and liberating strengthening the Rastafari family.