Visions of Zion-Ethiopians and Rastafari in the search for the promised land (ISBN: 978-1-4798-8224-3,) New York university Press, is a welcome extension to the growing body of work written about the Rastafari movement. The author, Erin C Macleod, in this book, presents candid and thought-provoking insights into the sentiments of the Ethiopian people, especially as it relates to the Rastafarians who began arriving in the country since the 1960s at the invitation of the monarchy.
Although there are many books written on the Rastafarians of Jamaica, there are not many that have delved in such great depth into the question of repatriation to Ethiopia by the Rastafari adherents who regard the last Emperor of Ethiopia, His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie The First, as the Living God, and consequently regard themselves as his true sons and daughters. This Macleod has managed to do, conducting her research with great sensitivity, both to the Ethiopian-born respondents, and to the Rastafari community.
Macleod’s strong work ethic and true ethnological approach is self-evident, and she draws on a rich set of scenarios, conversations, anecdotes, reflections and memories acquired during her stay in Ethiopia between 2007/08 and intermittent stays between 2004 and 2013. First as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia, a Christian, non-governmental development agency, then as a traveler, or should I say, a truth-seeker “ I formerly interviewed over 90 people primarily in Shashamane.” she says. Macleod E (2014,21)
The anecdotes she shares illustrate an inquiring academic mind that seeks to peer underneath this cloak of nationality, race and immigration using appropriate methodologies to analyze a plethora of data to produce an authoritative piece of work that quickly establishes her, in our opinion, as an authority on the subject of Rastafari and immigration. If ever there was a book that a student of Rastafari; a Rastafari living in Shashamane, Ethiopia, or one planning to migrate there, should read, then it is this one, Visions of Zion-Ethiopians and Rastafari in the search for the promised land. Moreover, this is a publication that could easily be added to the reading list of humanities modules; sociology anthropology, law etc courses at universities and colleges throughout the Caribbean and the African continent, and academia in general Particularly those concerned with Caribbean religion in general, and Rastafari in particular.
This first edition of Visions of Zion-Ethiopians and Rastafari in the search for the promised land published in 2014, started its life as a theses entitled, Leaving Out of Babylon, Into Whose Father’s Land?
The Ethiopian Perception of the Repatriated Rastafari back in 2009 as partial fulfillment of the requirements for her Phd in Communications at McGill University, and I am very happy that Macleod had decided to have the work published as a book so that a wider audience could avail themselves of her excellent research in a still widely misunderstood religio-socio movement which finds solace in identifying themselves as Ethiopians in the diaspora, (to chagrin of their Ethiopian hosts,) hence the ubiquitous use of the red, yellow and green colours of the Ethiopian flag, with the image of the conquering lion emblazoned as its centre piece.
Visions of Zion-Ethiopians and Rastafari in the search for the promised land is a 300-page, hardback publication, and is also available as an ebook as well. It has 7 chapters, an introduction and is complete with a reference section notes for further reading, and the all important index, for finding those key words in the text. The front cover, designed by Micheal Thompson features a graphic of the Lion of Judah decorated with Ethiopian motifs and endorsements on the back.
In closing, I would advise anyone reading this book, to do so slowly. It is a journey in which one should savor and enjoy the process of getting to their destination, as much as getting to the destination its self. Read and enjoy. We can’t wait to read what Erin C. Macleod will publish next.
Albert and Tempie Williams