The Sisters of Sheba: A Legacy of Leadership and Historical Contributions of Women Relating to the Rastafari Movement of Jamaica
Andrew Christopher Davidson
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 1998 D38
xi, 125 leaves; 29 cm.
Rastafari is a movement of Pan-African resistance which was born as African descendents in Jamaica identified the crowning of Ras Tafari Makonnen as Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia in 1930 as the fulfillment of Biblical and Garveyite prophesy. This movement did not arise out of a vacuum. Rastafari arose from a historical legacy and was precipitated by specific circumstances that were present during the time of its formal origin. The Rastafari movement grew out of a legacy of Pan-African resistance and struggle throughout the African Diaspora. Within these struggles, women were significant contributors. This thesis briefly highlights some of the specific contributions which women, both individually and collectively, have made within the movements and historical events which contributed to the emergence of Rastafari.
Despite the contributions which women have made within the historical antecedents of the Rastafari movement, women within Rastafari have often been relegated to a subordinate and inferior status justified by Biblical interpretations. In the fourth chapter, the Biblical justifications for Rastafarian gender relations will be examined in order to expose how Rastafarian gender stratifications have been constructed and how many Rastawomen have begun to challenge traditional, male-centered interpretations of Biblical scripture dominant within the Rastafari movement.
Failing to affirm the historical contributions which women have made towards the Rastafari movement has hindered the movement from moving proactively to address issues relating to the subordination of women. This thesis may be used as a starting point to acknowledge the important roles which women have played and hopefully to blaze a path of historical contribution which the women of Rastafari may follow as they move to the forefront of the Rastafari movement.