Barnett, Michael A.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Rex Nettleford’s Reflections on the Rastafari Report and Movement and His Impact on the Trajectory of Rastafari Scholarship
Date of Publication
In his classic 1970 book Mirror Mirror: Identity, Race and Protest in Jamaica, reflecting on the 1960 report on the Rastafari movement in Kingston which he had co-authored along with two other scholars of the University of the West Indies, M.G. Smith and Roy Augier, Rex Nettleford suggested that the Rastafari Report saved the movement from the fate of quietism and passivity, in that the recommendations from the report served to bolster the movement and legitimise it to the wider society.1 Nettleford further contended that it was the fact that the Jamaican Rastafari movement at that time contained a Jamaica-focused dimension, along with its quest for repatriation, that allowed for a justification of some of the recommendations of the report, without incurring the wrath of the movement as a whole.2 Some of the recommendations clearly advocated for local rehabilitative measures for the movement. For instance, the report advocated for the building of low-rent houses in greater number, the introduction of self-help co-operative building schemes, the provision of such facilities as light, water, sewage disposal and garbage collection, for those members of the movement who were effectively squatters living in slum areas; also, the establishment of civic centres in Kingston, with facilities for technical classes, youth clubs and child clinics, and the extension to leading members of the Rastafari movement of press and radio facilities. The authors of the report also recommended that an invitation be extended to the imperial Ethiopian government to establish a branch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Western Kingston.....