“Jah Rasta” is a work that that goes as far back as the first time I heard Bob Marley and initially he was a good music man and then one day I asked myself what do the words mean and where do they come from and the world of Rastafarians unfolded. Traveling between the songs from “Exodus”, “One Love”, “Get up stand up”, “War” I learn that there much more to it. Many years later I find myself in Ethiopia digging the music and the culture of the Rastafarian movement what they believe in and their connection to Ethiopia. This inspiration brings me to dig deeper into the message of peace that ratsas live bye. So that is why I chose this subject and focus on it in my film as I feel that in my part of the world we need to learn from the message of Rastafarians and that “until the day when the human family learns to live as one human family there will not be peace”.
A 50-minute documentary combines the use of music performances, informal improvisations and interviews of the Rastafarians I talked to in Ethiopia around the time of the celebrations of Bob Marley’s 60th birthday in February 2005. It is all shot in Ethiopia mainly in the capital Addis Ababa and Shashemene, the land that was given by Emperor Haile Selassie to Diaspora Africans in gratitude for helping Ethiopia defend themselves against the Italians. The choice of these locations is central to the theme of the film as Ethiopia and His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie is in the heart of the Rastafarian movement.
This fifty-minute film is constructed of segments with “live” music from the concerts that took place at the time of the celebrations, some improvised music on the bus to Shashemene, as well and a collage of chats with many Rastafarians. The Ratsas speak of the Rastafari ways as they explain the interconnections between the Diaspora blacks, Africa, their choices, how the movement started and it’s connection to the Jamaican black leader Marcus Garvey, why they chose to come to Ethiopia, the importance of His Highness Emperor Haile Selassie, the different groups within the Rastafarian family and the need for peace in the human family. From the ancients of the Nyabinghi order, to Dr. Desta, the managing director of the Bob Marley Foundation, to artists musicians like Teddy Dan, a member of the twelve tribes of Israel, to Ras King of the Drums of Rastas, entrepreneurs like Sherif, an academician Prof. A Ford, and a group of teachers who teach at the Rastafarian elementary school in Shashemene there is one striking aspect of all of the Rastas encountered is their sincere dedication to growth in Africa, their devotion to living the Rastafari way of life and their actively spreading of Love especially the “love of self and where the most high dwells”.
The film opens with Teddy Dan, the artist musician singing and actively preaching the Rastafari while the bus rides from Addis Ababa to Shashemene. The words of the song giving thanks to Jah Xabere (God in Amharic) use of Amharic the indigenous language of Ethiopia. Then the title “Jah Rasta” appears as we see the highway that his majesty Haile Selassie built to allow the safe return to the Promised Land.
The stage performance of “Drums of Rasta” starts with “Once stowed aside to the western hemisphere and now returned to our mother and father land Ethiopia” and the Rasta family plays a beautiful African drum. Then the elders appear and
Jah Rasta, the first in a series of films about music with purpose