How many tribes are there in Jamaica

Every summer the lion of Judah becomes the patron saint of the Fühlinger See near Cologne. For a weekend his shaggy crowned mane adorns T-shirts and jackets, flags
and patches. His scepter rises into the air on plastic cups, record covers and even on the official festival logo. It is as if hundreds of thousands of people have gathered in his sign. But the symbol of the Israelite tribe is by no means the only Jewish symbol at the Summerjam Festival, one of the largest reggae events in Europe. Singers regularly pull off the leather on both stages against "Babylon", where the "Jah people", the children of God, are enslaved, and Zion appears again and again in the refrains, the promised land of their promise. It would be difficult to find anywhere in Europe a large number of Stars of David that are on public display. Their background, however, is not blue and white, but red, gold and green.

Dreadlocks This is confusing for people who have never dealt with Rastafarians. You know that they listen to reggae, wear dreadlocks and smoke weed while philosophizing, which is why some people feel connected to them. Some have danced to songs like Iron Lion Zion and perhaps wondered about the strange rhyme. Do these black Jamaicans, descendants of African slaves who were once abducted to the Caribbean, have anything to do with Jews? Pablo Moses indicates that this question cannot be answered so clearly. Pablito Henry, his birth name, is an elderly gentleman in his early 60s who is highly respected in reggae circles, who has just made his appearance with an appeal to the "Zion people". "We consider ourselves Jews," he says shortly afterwards, sweaty in his cramped backstage room, "but not Jewish in the modern sense."

believe Pablo Moses likes to talk about his faith. There is something serious about his voice. He sounds a bit like a preacher when he goes on to tell: “Of course there are clear parallels. We also know Zionism, the image of the twelve tribes of Israel. It is not for nothing that one of the most important Rasta organizations (The Twelve Tribes of Israel, TM) is named after them. «The tribe of Judah, however, has a special meaning among Rastafarians, because they attribute to them Haile Selassie, Ethiopian emperor between 1930 and 1974 worshiped by them as the reincarnation of God. They consider the emperor to be a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, from whose relationship the first Ethiopian emperor Menelik I is said to have emerged around 3,000 years ago.

roots The book Kebra Nagast (Glory of the Kings) revolves around this myth, something like the "Lost Bible of the Rastafarians". It also tells that as a young man Menelik returned to his father's court in Israel, where someone from his entourage stole the ark and brought it to Ethiopia. This is considered the origin of Judaism here. That is why, according to Pablo Moses, Rastas, lions and Star of David are also sacred symbols. But in Zion, of all places, the land of promise, the common path ends, as so often. “The writing,” says Pablo Moses, who got his name in Jamaica at school because he was considered a peacemaker, “tells us about the new Jerusalem. But this is in Ethiopia. As Rastafarians, we know that the term Israel in the Bible means Ethiopia. "
Suddenly the stands with Caribbean food and the mobile record shops seem far away. The greenish lake behind the tents takes on something unreal. The basses roll out of the sound carpet deep and earthy. The geographic coordinate system begins to rotate. You have to insert a new axis, this matter cannot be sorted without the political background. Rastafari is a young religion. Or an "inherent concept," as Pablo Moses calls it. It started in Jamaica in 1928 with Marcus Garvey. The preacher and pan-Africanist urged black people to look to Africa. If a black ruler was crowned there, the time of their liberation would be near, it was said. Early Rastafarian preachers like Leonard Howell saw this as a messianic prophecy, although Ras (an old Amharic ruler title) Tafari Makonnen was already king of Ethiopia at that time. His appointment as emperor two years later was seen by the descendants of the slaves as the fulfillment of this promise. Ever since they were declared worthy to be Christianized, they have interpreted the Bible in search of its roots. Accordingly, the first Jews were black. "Israel were all black men," says the reggae band "Steel Pulse". The Christian New Testament is seen by Rastas as a distortion of history and an attempt to deny the historical role of black people. Haile Selassie fits perfectly into this context: Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has never been colonized. Preachers like Leonard Howell compare the blacks to the biblical Israelites in exile in Babylon. Even today, parts of the movement do not eat salt because it symbolizes the Red Sea when the Israelites departed. While preachers swear to return to Africa, Haile Selassie gives the promised land a face. The biblical reference, however, remains. 1969 Desmond Dekker sings about the hard life of bondage. The number becomes the first worldwide reggae hit. It's called The Israelites. For Pablo Moses, too, the Israelites are God's chosen people. Its concept, however, is a broad one. "All who keep the Ten Commandments are part of it."
promised land This is where Jah Robby goes to great lengths. In contrast to many of his peers who jumped on the increasingly popular reggae move in recent years, the 31-year-old takes the content of his music seriously. Robby's father is German, the mother comes from Zimbabwe, the dreadlock wearer looks like a fluttering Bob Marley. He comes from Tengen on Lake Constance and is the singer of the "Treeshakers" who have been telling rural Baden-Württemberg about corruption and the moral decline of Babylon for nine years - a code word for depraved Western society, as was the case with Pablo Moses' generation. His idea of ​​Zion is very different. Like many younger reggae lovers, Robby also seems more like Jamaica as the promised land, as the place of origin of music and culture, even if the roots are elsewhere. He dreams of visiting the Rasta colony on Mount Zion in Jamaica. He knows that there is also a Mount Zion in Jerusalem, but this fact leaves him indifferent. He has no special relationship with Israel, says Robby, because he already considers Zion to be a purely imaginary place.

Style Wassila Sadou, on the other hand, lives from its real existence. On the square between the stages, she spends the festival weekend at her company's booth. This manufactures clothes that are based on the Rastafarian ideology of a life in harmony with nature. "Made of organic material, without pollutants, without metals," Wassila praises her goods. It comes on the market under the label "Zion Clothing". The clothing has been produced under fair conditions since 2002. “When it comes to the environment and ethics, we make no compromises,” is the company's philosophy. »Zion Clothing« comes from the Swedish city of Örebro and, like the other devotional merchants, travels after the festival crowd. Wassila's family comes from West Africa. Many sellers have African roots, but now live in France, Germany or England. Of course, the lion logo also adorns the stand of »Zion« clothing. What connects Wassila with the four letters? "Paradise," she says. Enlightenment, but also a brand. It has nothing to do with Israel today.

Tradition Perhaps a special biography is required in order to link both lines of tradition with one another. Harrison Stafford, singer of the celebrated Californian band "Groundation", gave the first course in "History of Reggae Music" at Sonoma State University ten years ago. He grew up in a Jewish family. “I went to Hebrew lesson and became a barmizvah. My father was a Kohen and my mother a Levi, «says the charismatic. This background makes him more open to the connection between Judaism and Rastafarian. Stafford describes his identity as a mixture of Jewish heritage and a love of Rasta culture. “We are all made up of different parts that we put together on our way. Many paths on this planet ultimately lead to the same path. I live in a fundamental sense according to the Rastafarian principles that we love one another and strive for equal rights and justice across the planet. ”As the Torah says: When one person suffers, all of Israel suffers. It is amazing how exactly Stafford sits at this interface. His words can still be heard as »Groundation«, staging one of the last shows of the festival, come on stage again to great cheers and play an encore. There he stands now, a slim, bearded Jewish Rasta with glasses, and sings: “Exodus. Movement of Jah People. Send us another brother Moses from across the Red Sea. "