By Church of His Majesty Ivine Order

Hear this all ye people, give ear all ye inhabitants of the world both, low and high, rich and poor together. My mouth shall speak of wisdom and the meditation of my heart shall be of overstanding. (Psalm 49.1-3)

Greetings in the name of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie 1, JAH Rastafari!

To our esteemed Members of Parliament, I and I bring salutations.

It has been nearly two years since the CARICOM Ganja Commission came to St. Vincent and took our views on ganja. We have heard nothing of the Commission since then and, of course, in the meantime, Jamaica has gone ahead and removed the unjust laws which made it illegal for Rasta men and Rasta women to practice their religious rights and use ganja. Belize has decriminalised, so too the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, just last year; and the US Virgin Islands in 2014. Antigua has passed it in one part of their Parliament, and St. Kitts and Nevis has set up its own commission. As we all know also, in the United States, 18 states have decriminalised and 10 states have legalised it. Uruguay has fully legalised possession, cultivation, and transportation.

The CARICOM Commission is a waste of time, and our parliamentarians should not wait on it.

We hear that ganja for medical use will soon be allowed, and even though it will may or may not benefit I-and-I, we overstand that in these hard economic times, ganja, the low hanging fruit, can’t be resisted. As Junior Gong said, “Babylon fight it for years, now all ah dem want shares.” That’s the world we live in. We know how global capital works. But we think I and I are being treated unfairly.   We are Rasta. That is our livity, our religion — as the world calls it. We smoke ganja as part of our religion. The Constitution says that we have a right to practice our religion, and all the tenets of that religion. All I and I want is that right.

We hear that only medicinal cannabis and not religious use can be considered at this time, in large part because of the views of the Christian Council and community. We are not politicians, but we overstand the politics of the matter. Votes are at stake. We get it. But that does not make it fair or just. We are religious people too. Big Church 1, Big Church 2, and Medium Church 3 cannot tell I and I how to practice our livity simply because they are in the majority and we are a minority. (And neither can the law, for that matter, since our right is a foundation right. Everything else must give way). That would be religious persecution. We don’t tell Big Church 1, Big Church 2, and Medium Church 3 what to put on their altar. We put Selassie and the holy herb. We cannot tell Big Church 1, Big Church 2, and Medium Church 3 what to drink and eat in their ceremonies when they worship. We smoke ganja when we praise Him. In the Binghi House, when we chant His name, we beat our drums and draw on we chalice.

So why, in 2018, is our way of life treated with such disrespect? Is it because we are poor, marginalised, disenfranchised, or, as Bunny Wailer says, blackheart men and women? Is it because Rastafari is the most African of the religions in this country? The days of illegalising our Afrocentric religions should have ended when the Shakers Baptists were finally allowed to practice their religion, adorn in their splendid robes, ring their bells, stomp their feet, and enter their moaning room and their trances, free, decades ago.

The Church of His Majesty Ivine Order was incorporated under Act No 32 of 2006 by your Parliament, the first Rastafarian Church in the Caribbean to be so honoured. So you recognise us but don’t really accept us?

Its nonsensical to tell the Rastaman, “get a license (if you can); we will allow you to grow the herb to sell overseas and get some money. But you can’t use it to worship”. No church puts money before God. It’s a mistake to try to cut off man from his culture and to eat the fruit of the tree but chop at the root.

If it’s the money as you say, then that’s not a problem since you must know that African culture in the West has value and a money value. Just two examples: the richest family in the Caribbean is the Marley family, sitting nice from RASTAFARI works; one of the biggest movie in the world, which opened last month, is about an African hero in an African land.

Please, Parliament, do the right thing. When you vote, let the Rastaman practice I and I livity, our religion, freely, without fear of getting locked up and brutalised. Don’t leave it to some policeman’s mood as to whether he will give us a pass or not. He might not.

Give us our equal rights.

Church of His Majesty Ivine Order

In collaboration with Rastas from Bobo Shanti, and Twelve Tribes of Israel and with Rastas who are not from any Mansion of Rastafari.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

8 replies on “Let the Rastaman practice I and I livity”

  1. Nowadays, dreadlocks has become just another hairstyle and is widely seen as such. Rasta is your religion and you surely are right to voice to speak up for your Ivity. I and I overstand your reasoning. But, I and I don’t think that a lot of people will agree with you. Maybe you and yours should do the paperwork and register yourselves as a religion or fight to have it done if is not already done. Then you will have a legal basis for this argument. Peace, Love and Rastafari. Be good and cool runnings me brethren.

    1. Also me brethren, maybe you should stop quoting Bunny Wailer and Junior Gong. Bob Marley is not seen as a prophet but a Pop-musician. Rastafarianism is looked at by most as a lifestyle. The same a Punk and Gothic. Jah blessings me brethren. Don’t give up the fight.

    2. Sorry me brethren, I meant to write “livity” not “Ivity”. Also I meant to write “The same as Punk and Gothic” and I add Hippy to that.

      1. I went looking for an answer about Rastafarianism. I found that Rastafari is a young, Africa-centred religion which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as King of Ethiopia in 1930. I also looked at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/rastafari/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rastafari and https://www.gotquestions.org/Rastafarianism.htm. Also https://academic.oup.com/icon/article/7/2/275/758658. Then get a notary to draft your manifest and register. I think that would be a good start.

  2. My Rasta Brother, I have been thinking about your plight since I read your post here on IWN. I live in Europe. Every day I see Rastas and people with dreadlocks going about their business. I know many persons who wear dreadlocks but do not subscribe to the Haile Selassie 1st ideology. Being a Rasta seems to be of no consequence here unless you break the law.

    Smoking Marijuana is widely accepted, here, in the region where I live and almost everyone does it or have done it at some point in their life. I sympathize with Rastas in SVG because I am of the opinion that every person has the right to universal individual freedom. That is the right to use your life and liberty in pursuit of happiness.

    I have been in the West Indies and I saw many practicing Rastafarians there. I have friends there who practice the Rastafarian religion. They smoked ganja, played drums, read the Bible, meditated and ate Ital, vegetarian food with a lot of pepper. They also made handicraft products which they sold for money to maintain themselves.

    In the West Indies Rastas are looked upon as Outcasts, rebellious and anti-establishment. Optics does matter. This is so because in the West Indies the Christian religions are the ones who dictate the terms of accepted social behavior. As you know, they are against progressive thinking and If they had their way you would be all burned at the stake unless you denounce your so-called pagan beliefs.

    On the question of religion which is what we are talking about here. It has long been established in the West, that there is a separation of Church and State, this means that secularly all opinions are deemed valid and must be respected. SVG is a secular state. So your right to practice the religion of your choice is guaranteed under the law.

    I hope that in the west indies Rastafarians will be looked at with the same indifference as a Christian or other religion.

  3. Brown Boy USA says:

    I respect the view of the rastaman and his frustration with the polarization of Rastafarianism religion, in term of the freedom to practice the sacramental aspect of their religion, which is the smoking of marijuana. While the basis for your argument has substance, you must realize and understand that marijuana acceptance and decriminalization is a new phenomenon. Unlike the drinking of wine and breaking of bread in the Christian religion, marijuana is considered a drug. One may argue that it is drug which has great medicinal purposes, but a drug nonetheless. In light of the new medicinal marijuana crave that sweeping the western world, including SVG, now would be a good time for the Rastafarian movement in SVG to mobilize themselves in a forceful organization and force the hands of government to place the issue on the table of parliament. Nothing is going to come easy without you take the charge, make the sacrifice and being proactive to make your issue heard. This is a good forum to start. However, the Rastafarian movement must come forward and stand up and fight what they believe it right, now that marijuana has become more socially and legally accepted. In order to change Babylon system, Rasta, you be will and able to take up this cause, otherwise you are like a tingling symbol just making annoying noise. So raise up rastaman and fight your case. You have to stand and fight for something or you get nothing!

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