Magazine article New Internationalist

Book of Memory: A Rastafari Testimony

Magazine article New Internationalist

Book of Memory: A Rastafari Testimony

Article excerpt

Book of Memory: A Rastafari Testimony composed by Prince Elijah Williams, edited by Michael Kuelker (CaribSound, ISBN 0 5746022 0 8)

Outside Jamaica, Rastafarianism is commonly associated with Bob Marley and reggae music; for adventurous tourists it may conjure images of dreadlocked beachbums lounging under palm trees.

But behind the cliché of a jolly dread smoking a big spliff are tales of hardship and injustice, particularly for those who came to the faith before Marley made it world-famous. Based on the life of Prince Elijah Williams, who became a Rasta in the early 19503, Book of Memory is a fascinating attempt to delve behind such myths. A woodcarver and drummer, Williams recounted his testimony and observations over a 10-year period to Michael Kuelker, a US human-rights activist.

With poetic clarity, Williams makes clear that to be a Rasta in the 1950s and 1960s meant being beaten or jailed for no reason. …

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