On November 2, 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned His Imperial Majesty (HIM) Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, and his wife Menen Asfaw empress, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Selassie was said to be a descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, assuming the title of King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
Typically, in-person celebrations on the anniversary consist of large gatherings, with singing, chanting, drumming, worship and reasoning.
But since the virus reached TT, many of the TT Rastafarian community’s celebrations have had to take place through a screen. For example, they celebrated Selassie’s birthday virtually on July 23, as well as that of Jamaican civil-rights activist Marcus Garvey on August 17.
Communications officer for the 12 Tribes of Israel mansion Brent Martinez said Rastafarians will now have to celebrate the historic day in their hearts, as they are unable to gather, owing to the covid19 pandemic.
Virtual or not, he said, the spirit, importance, and meanings of all these historic days still remain.
“It’s so important and it is celebrated all over the world by the Rastafarian community and a lot of people in the African diaspora. Being aware of the role of HIM, especially in post-colonial times…It played a great role. It was one of the greatest things to happen in Africa at that time.
“Where it is truly celebrated is in the hearts of all man – we are always celebrating it. So yes, we are used to coming together all the time. But with this situation now, we will celebrate within our hearts. We have a little saying in 12 Tribes: scatter but stay together. A lot has been accomplished and there is a lot to be celebrated,” he said.
Other mansions of Rastafari in TT include Bobo Shanti, Nyabinghi, African Unity and Ethiopian Orthodox. Members of all these mansions tuned in to virtual celebrations across the world in unison with their coreligionists. Others went live on Facebook and YouTube showing how they are celebrating the day at home.
Live music was also streamed throughout the day on Radio12TT.