The Sunday Mail
If the question is, “Do Rastafarians celebrate Christmas?” The true answer is yes, the Ethiopian Christmas.
Due to colonisation, corruption and the lack of the much-awaited decolonisation process, only the controversial western white Christmas is known, socially accepted and popularly practised with ease.
To begin, the Christian faith is of Ethiopian origin, in modern day terms, a continent commonly known as Africa. “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her arms unto Jah Ras Tafari” and so says the Psalmist.
The Ethiopia in question is an enormous empire that covered basically all Africa, and almost all remaining places too numerous to mention. This is before the young Roman, Grecian, and Babylonian empires were even thought of.
Then Christ was born black, by a black Madonna, grew to wear dreadlocks of which he never cut and was basically a Rasta in the colloquial sense of the complex multi-meaning Devine name. The snowflakes version of a white Jesus with blue eyes, blonde hair, Santa Claus and free gifts down the chimney is a good example of commercial capitalist exploitation of the truth hence falsified for personal gain.
The festive season is dominated by overspending, mass voluntary self intoxication and basically engaging in dangerous behaviours whose end results is continuous regret.
Criminal activity is at its peak; muggings, burglaries, robberies to mention but a few. The assumed blessings are nowhere to be found, curses dominate.
Although rapidly collapsing in efficiency, individuals are possessed by this hype that prompts them to act irrationally and hysterically. Road and traffic accidents destroy more lives during this time alone than during any other season. Perhaps that is why Santa Claus garments are blood red, with a little white of course. Besides, the son of man was not born on the 25th of December. Instead, from the 22nd to the 25th, age old pagan rituals take place in the name of the sun for man, drinking his blood and eating his flesh accordingly.
The Rastafarian Faith is pro-vegan. Strict adherents, true to themselves and Jah, do not consume any animals, insects and sentient creatures that respond to pain whatsoever.
Cruelty to animals, avoiding disastrous nutrition and strengthening civilised behaviour amongst civilised citizens seriously seeking righteousness is of paramount importance.
On the other hand, more than enough animals, birds, mammals, fish and insects are butchered and slaughtered during this short yet intense period of time.
To counteract such a socially accepted and continuously perpetuated atrocity, the Feast of First Fruits comes into play. Otherwise known by the Swahili equivalent and original, Kwanza, true and strict Rastafarians emphasise the excessive consumption of fruits, raw and dried during the same said time.
Not only to humans but all else; love, peace, joy, unity and especially sharing and caring was borrowed hence albeit faulty.
Our ancient African forbears celebrated life during these long awaited after the cold and dry rainy seasons when natural indigenous specimens blossomed and replenished the earth once again.
The traditional African diet was and is by far healthier than microwave cooked genetically modified fast foods. Ironically the forests that supply invigorating freshness have since disappeared in favour to bottled, flavoured, coloured, fuzzy substitutes.
In 1965, Doctor Maulana Karenga introduced this oppositional alternative especially amongst the black community struggling to rise from slavery, mental colonisation and attributes. Kwanza is a communitarian philosophical approach to life, obviously parallel to western capitalism and the commercialisation of nearly everything life has to offer.
The term is derived from the phrase ‘matunda yakwanza’ meaning first fruits of the harvest. It is based on ‘kawaida’ meaning tradition and reason.
For seven days and seven nights, from the 26th of December to the 1st of January, the seven core principles of Kwanza, ‘nguzo saba’ are preached, practised and emphasised a day each.
In sequential order, we have; ‘umoja’ (unity), ‘kujichagulia’ (self determination), ‘ujima’ (collective work and responsibility), ‘ujamaa’ (cooperative economics), ‘nia’ (purpose), ‘kuumba’ (creativity) and finally ‘imani’ faith.
Despite being extremely African in practice and origin, seven candles are lit. They represent the seven lights, seven days of creation and all other sevens to be found in the mainstream Christian, Jewish and all other relevant Abrahamic religions.
Since it is known that Kwanza pioneered eons before it’s predecessors, obviously the copycat needs no rocket scientist to unfathom.
As for Christmas, the original version is known as the Nativity of Christ and is of Ethiopian origin. Again, it is commemorated for seven days and seven nights. Beginning on the 7th day of January to the 13th, Rastafarians and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate the original Christmas. One must know that the oldest Christian churches, the only structures on earth whence the building materials were removed from the structure(s) and not introduced to as is expected, are in modern day Ethiopia.
Headed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the very same organisation that crowned His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I the first, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah, Elect of God. Beyond any reasonable doubt, the fulfilment of Biblical prophesies heralding the return of the Messiah Jesus Christ was fulfilled hence.
Consider again, Emperor Haile Selassie I is 225th direct descendant of King Solomon of Israel and Queen Makeda, popularly known as the Queen of Sheba. What was hidden from the wise and the prudent is now being revealed to the babe and suckling.
Africans, members of the motherland, at home and abroad, must dig deeper for them to grasp their roots. Since they were buried even deeper, whoever they are, they did a good job. However, the only problem is they were burying seeds. And now they are growing. Life comes from the soil and that alone calls for celebrations. Long live Kwanza.