In 2016 I visited my childhood home, the farm I was born and raised in, in the Karoo region of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
It had been 20 years since I last set foot at the farm. My last departure there was in 1994, thereafter, my life and dreams at the farm faded out of existence. It seemed as though I wanted to forget about it and live a new life. But deep down in my heart I suppressed deep feelings of loss and tragedy with the move and migration out of the farm. But somehow I knew one day I will return and do something at the farm again.
It was in 2016 that I had to return to the farm. It was not fun nor was it for fun to return there.
My visit was for an ancestral libation ritual at my grandfather and paternal grandmother (my father’s mother)’s gravesite. I was ill and needed their spiritual intervention for release in my then stagnated emotional and mental health.
I was conflicted and in deep pain and needed help. I did not know who to turn to after many attempts attending to my wellness needs from different perspectives.
Faced with a possibility that I was going through a chronic mental health problem, I prayed to the Rastas that I be saved from the emotional and mental pain I was going through. Not long after, in a dream-like state, I saw Emperor Haile Selassie I, adorned in His royal military regalia, his hands adorned in and covered with white gloves. With His right hand, back and forth, he was waving a whip, walking like my late paternal matriarch great-grandmother used to walk at the farm when she was hunting us with a whip for misbehaviour. He was walking alongside and towards the back of the Baxter Theatre at the University of Cape Town, not far from where I lived on campus at that time completing my studies.
When I woke up the following day the lucid dream vision of Him was still very clear in my mind and spirit. In that moment and at that time I knew I was in trouble. My prayer to the Rastas, by extension my ancestors, was being answered and it was about to be biblical. I always knew Rastas are healers but had not yet given them much time to focus on and understand them.
From thereon, a chain of events unfolded leaving me in a state awe and wonder with a complete awareness that my arkashic records have been opened and hell broke loose. Who was I –to dream about Emperor Haile Selassie I? In what universe does that happen? Soon I learned it was the African universe and only the Rastas live in that universe.
Emperor Haile Selassie I was the last standing emperor of Africa in Ethiopia. His imperial government was deposed with a coup in 1974. In 1975 he died an unhappy royal child of the universe –who’s royal –translate legal –right was taken away from him. For him to have been an Emperor of Africa, he must have been cosmically chosen by African gods –hence the Rastafari community’s “Rightful Elect of Jah”, “The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah” and the “King of Kings” salutations and titles. His Ethiopian coronation to be emperor was a cosmic royal affair. Only African gods bestow that godhood privilege to African children. Mortal beings do not have that long reach on earth.
For this reason, Africans ought to have bowed down to and respected HIM with everything and all we are and have. As I learned, though, the independence era African leaders were conflicted about and divided on Emperor Haile Selassie I’s ethnic and racial identity –and they felt that he did not fully represent the African identity as they wanted him. It was only Ghana’s prime minster, Kwame Nkrumah, who rightfully saw beyond and above the ethnic and racial identity discourse that caused confusion and discussion.
By virtue of his work and load in Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah was spiritually empowered above and beyond the mortal understanding of the African heritage dissidents. He firmly stood on the pan African teachings of Marcus Mosiah Garvey about the emperor of Africa. Till his death, Kwame Nkrumah knew and understood that Haile Selassie was rightfully elected the Emperor of Africa. All they needed to do was to honour that power.
However, Ras Tafari’s physical appearance caused many African leaders to disregard him and his cosmic rulership, leading to his deposition with the coup in 1974. As a cosmic child, a child favoured by the Black gods, this caused a cosmic cataclysm. Africa was thrown back into the ages of darkness. I learned as a child that African children can cause rain when we want and wanted to. It is the purity of the hearts that the universe responds to. And so was Haile Selassie. He was a child of the cosmos. A cosmic healer! But Africans never learn to respect things of the highest order.
To date, not many Africans have an understanding that our actions are guarded cosmically by the gods of Africa. Everytime we fail to honour them they send us back into darkness to figure ourselves out before we can be restored into wholeness and fullness. Thus, we cannot be whole and fulfilled until we understand the causes and implications of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s rulership and discard from it as if he was a commoner.
It took me going back to the farm to figure this and other issues of concern out. This happened when I was tossed into darkness –after I prayed to the Rastas for a way out of mental illness dilemma. My great grandmother who was a matriarch at the farm responded in the form of Haile Selassie.
After I saw Haile Selassie in a dream-like vision, I was sent into the darkness of self-discovery, moving back, backwards into my childhood. When the time came for me, I had to pray to my ancestors and ask for guidance to enlightenment again. It was then that my family took me to an African healer queen mother. On diagnoses that my ancestors are reaching out and trying to communicate with me, she directed that I go home and appease them with rituals for harmony.
In reconnecting with my childhood at the farm, I walked up towards the direction where I lived with my mother and father’s families. Remembering my childhood, I took images of the old building structure where we lived including the stone walls where my grandparents’ pigs were kept and fed. I wept, looking around the mountainous slope where we played and chased each other as children. I could hear our childhood sounds of screams and laughter as we chased and ran after each other. I wept. My cousin was standing at a distance so I did not have disturbances in my moment of memory capturing.
I looked at the dams where we watched each other learn to swim. Looking back at the long stone wall behind me, I photographed an area written ‘SK 1920’ with a black paint. The writing has been there since my childhood. What it means I don’t know. All I know is that like Egypt, history leaves marks in stones. It is the prerogative and duty of the historian and anthropologist to decipher the meaning. It is that meaning I am extrapolating here.
And after I finished recording the recorded history, I returned to the gravesite of my grandparents. I did libation with brown sugar water and left them with snuff tobacco and crystals I bought in Cape Town. With my grandfather, I left a Tiger’s Eye and with my grandmother, I left a Moonstone. The result was that I had purified tears. I cried, seeing the lift of the heavy load.
This is how I became a Rasta!
Images: Lindiswa Jan/Fine Art America
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