A show of rastafarian culture

As Jamaica proactively encourages tourists to the island, another big draw this year that the tourist board has planned, is a show of Rastafari culture, which has been documented and its history is detailed in a definitive exhibition now underway at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston.

The historic exhibition, Rastafari: Unconquerable!, examines the “Revelation of Rastafari”, the “Philosophy and Evolution of the Rastafari Movement”, the “Visit of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie to Jamaica”, as well as a historical review of the challenges experienced by Rastafarians in Jamaica. The year-long exhibition runs through to July 2014.

Here in Toronto, another event to highlight Rastafarians is underway – Rastafest, which was launched last week and will culminate with an international reggea concert, scheduled for Saturday, August 24 at Downsview Park.

While organizers say there is no connection between the two events in Kingston and Toronto, Rastafest, which has been a part of the diaspora celebrations in the Toronto for many years, is engaging young people and artists in its line-up of events.  This Thursday, organizers will be staging TweenFest, which will showcase children and youth in dub poetry, African/Caribbean drum, music, dance among other things.

Back in Jamaica, the home of a large Rastafari population, Jamaica’s Tourism Director, John Lynch said the Rastafari exhibition is a way for visitors to experience the island’s unique and rich cultural heritage.  “We welcome the staging of such an exhibition which explores the contribution of Rastafari to the Jamaican society and demonstrates the diversity of our culture,” said Lynch.

The exhibition marks the culmination of several months of detailed research and work to collect and document numerous images and historical narratives of the rise and global influence of the indigenous Rastafari Culture. It represents a collaborative effort between the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) through its National Museum Jamaica division in partnership with the Rastafari Millennium Council.

IOJ curator David Stimpson collaborated with Ras Anthony Witter, Rastafarian oral historian and artist, to develop the exhibition. “All of the work has been done in consultation with the Millennium Council, Rastafari Consultation Committee, and through direct conversations with the various Mansions of Rastafari,” noted Stimpson.