Noble messages in Rasta’s Paradise

this is an article i wrote on THE REPORTER.

Many understand Rastafarianism and Rastas in reference to Reggae music, Bob Marley, dreadlock-haired people and Marijuana. Most attitudes concerning the Rastas are distorted and stereotypic.

Out of the noble and virtuous messages and tenets of rastafarianism, it’s the lyrics in Bob’s music that are captivating and which have remained in people’s mind. That’s why Parine Jaddo, an Iraqi filmmaker was compelled to make the film Rasta’s Paradise with a view to convey the messages of peace, love and positive vibration and hopefully influence the human family.

Rasta’s paradise is a fifty-minute documentary, whose setting is in Ethiopia – the promised land and the gate to Zion for the Rastas – and focuses on the lives of the Rastafarians living in Shashemene town on the land Emperor Haile-Sellasie I granted to diaspora blacks. Its theme is to reveal the facts about the Rastafarianism movement, the Rastas’ way of life and identity, Rastafarianism’s connections with Ethiopia, and the basic philosophies of the belief.

“As told in the lyrics of Bob Marley, what the world badly needs today is One Love and Positive Vibration,” says Parine.

The film begins with the colorful celebration of the 60th birthday commemoration of Bob Marley last year under the “Africa Unite” theme. This is because Parine was inspired to make the film after filming the celebration which was so appealing to her. Live stage music performances on Africa Unite by various Raggae artists in the film lulls the audience and transports them to the peaceful sprit of the raggae music and Rastafarianism.

It then traveles to Shashemene where the Rasta live, and Rastafari elders such as Bongo Rocky, Congo Rupert and Mama Baby relate the basic principles and their way of life. They have an elevated reverence for Ethiopia, the land of promise and the land of the uncolonized free king His Imperial Majesty Haile-Sellasie I. We all remember the famous Rasta Guitarist Ras kawintaseb, who walks on a bare foot so as not to tread on the soil of the sacred land with shoes. In the film we visit their taberancle, their homes as they explain their trials and tribulations, making geopolitical connections between their message and identity.

Springing from their way of life the film discovers the unique relationship between the Rastas and Ethiopia. It is the words of Marcus Garvey, who prophesized that “there shall be a black king crowned,” which is the foundation of the belief. And so the prophecy passed when emperor Haile-Sellasie was crowned emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. Follwing his coronation the diaspora blacks rallied behind HIM (His Imperial Majesty Haile-Sellasie) and the term Rastafari was coined.

Reggae music is an ornamentation in the film. Live music from the Africa Unite concert, some improvised music on the bus to Shashemene, and drumming of the Drums of Rasta inject liveliness into the film. Besides, it includes footages of Shashemene, the magical hotsprings of Wondo Genet and rural landscapes of beautiful Ethiopa.

In Rasta’s Paradise, the Rastafari ways, the interconnections between the diaspora blacks and Africa, the origin of the movement, its connections to the Jamaican black leader Marcus Garvey, as well as the reason for repatriation to Ethiopia are explained.

The film attempts to convey the message of peaceful resistance from a heart of “one love,” where justice and reconciliation remain a reality to be achieved one day. Parine says that this theme is well expressed in the speech emperor Haile-Sellasie I made to the United Nations in 1963 and was sung by Bob Marley in the music war.

The film will be premiered today at the Addis Ababa City Hall and then in Shashemene’s Rift Valley Hotel on Tuesday.

Parine Jaddo, an Iraqi, was born into a working class intellectual and artistic family that was forced to move frequently due to political turmoil in the Middle East. She has witnessed wars and revolutions since the age ot three to present, unfortunately. She became the story teller in her family, weaving tales with truth in an effort to both preserve her family during very challenging times. This was the beginning of her journey into film making.

Parine attended Howard University where she completed her masters in Film. She has also worked on Sankofa with the Ethiopian film maker Haile Gerima.

Some of her films include ‘Tayh’ (Astray) in 2003, “Aisha” in 2000 and “Atash” in 1995.

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