AFTER a three year hiatus, the Rastafarian community is back on campus with a new name and a fresh vision that will kick-off this Friday when the society hosts the 2014 National Rastafari Summit. [pullquote align=”right”]“Ganga doesn’t make the Rasta…there is a time and space for praying, same as ganga,”[/pullquote]
The two-day summit is part of the Rastafari Association for Students (RAS) (formerly the Rastafarian Appreciation Society) celebration of Black History Month as well as an attempt by the Rastafarian community on campus to reposition itself as a human rights group.
“The [previous] society became about reggae and pot-smoking. These things didn’t inform students about the culture,” said Terrance Nzuza, an art student and one of the leaders of the society.
“RAS is opening its heart and doors to other societies and cultures. It is not a platform for conflict.
The vision is to follow the teachings of Haile Selassie, especially his vision of forming the OAU (Organisation for African Unity) and celebrating humanity,” Nzuza said.[pullquote]The summit starts on Friday at lunch time in Senate House basement five with talks by Ras Dr Midas Chawane and Ras Mandlenkosi Matiko followed by a panel discussion open to the floor.[/pullquote]On the issue of marijuana, which is often inseparable from Rastafarian culture in the public mind, Nzuza said they viewed smoking of the herb as sacramental.
“Ganga doesn’t make the Rasta…there is a time and space for praying, same as ganga,” said Nzuza, who has been a Rastafari for over a decade.
Nzuza explained the summit beginning on Friday would be chiefly about Rastas learning to exercise self-criticism and taking ownership of their identity.
The self-funded summit was borne out of 44 challenges identified by research conducted by the CRL (Cultural, Religious and Linguistic) Commission.
It will draw representatives from Rastafarian houses and mansions around the country and further afield to discuss issues and find solutions to problems such as “police brutality and petty justice” directed at the Rasta community.
The summit is open to all those wishing to learn more about Rastafari or have an interest in the culture.
Nzuza said while it was good that many had learnt the principles of “peace, love and happiness” from Bob Marley, it was essential for people to go beyond this and deeper into the teachings of Rastafari.