Rastafarianism’s most revered spiritual being, H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie, is arguably, the most important figure in the movement. A direct descendant of the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Selassie possesses a supreme and deified status in Rastafarianism. Therefore, if any one person’s actions were to be interpreted as representative of the entire movement’s ideology, it would have to be Selassie.
During a 1966 state visit to Jamaica, multitudes of eager Jamaicans and other Caribbean peoples were at hand to receive the Emperor, an affair that quickly descended into chaos as soon as the state guest’s plane landed. Besides meeting with high profile Jamaican politicians and addressing the enthusiastic crowds, Selassie used the historic moment to visit Marcus Garvey, a further testament to the strong relationship between Rastafarianism and the radical cause championed by Caribbean resistance leaders such as Garvey.
However, it is noteworthy the irony in the Emperor’s preferred honorific – His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie. As a matter of fact, this is the title by which Selassie was introduced during his state visit to the newly independent Jamaica, the birthplace of Rastafarianism whose tenets include a strong aversion to imperialism. Incidentally, Selassie’s imperial lifestyle and way of dressing closely resembles that of Marcus Garvey, who considered himself the de facto leader of Africa.
Although this Selassie visit and connection to Marcus Garvey is just one instance of the bond between radicalism and Rastafarianism, given Selassie’s status in the movement, it is an extremely significant relationship and a true testament to the role that Rastafarianism played in the Caribbean resistance movement.