Return of Rasta

AFTER THE DEATHS of Haile Selassie and Bob Marley and the subsequent “repeal” of roots reggae in the Reaganomic Jamaica of the ’80s, Rastafarianism receded from the world stage. Today it is thriving again in the international music market, commanding respect in roughneck dance-halls from Montego Bay to Toronto. Moreover, the “roots and culture” revival of the last eighteen months seems to be more than a passing trend, more than the belated recognition, in a slow cycle, of the performers and communities who kept the Rasta faith through the lean years. Historians have long acknowledged the profound impact of the Rasta movement as the voice of Black Power in the Caribbean in the ’70s. Indeed, at a large conference on Caribbean culture in Kingston in March (“the first such occasion in 500 years,” as a keynote speaker remarked), the audience, treated to renowned intellectuals like George Lamming,

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