The central revelation for Rastafaris is a prophecy by Marcus Garvey, in conjunction with the ascension of Haile Selassie to the throne. Garvey preached in 1916 (although this is often dated as 1920): “Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned, he shall be your Redeemer”. This inspired a number of Pan-African and Afro-Caribbean religious movements to expect a black messiah. It was not a reference to Haile Selassie specifically, as Garvey did not suggest that he was the messiah. However, with the crowning of Haile Selassie I as Negus Negusta (Amharic for ‘King of Kings’) of Ethiopia in 1930, taking the biblically inspired titles of ‘King of Kings’, ‘Elect of God’, and ‘Lion of the Tribe of Judah’ and placing himself in legendary line of King Solomon, this was seen by some as a revelation from God and a fulfilment of Marcus Garvey’s earlier prophecy. Those hoping for religious renewal of the African diaspora created by the slave trade saw the coronation as a fulfilment of biblical prophecy and Haile Selassie as the messiah of African redemption. A reading of the prophecy of the Emperor in the Book of Revelation was taken as confirming Haile Selassie was the messiah due to the titles he adopted. Daniel 7:9 was also read as confirmation that the messiah was a black man and the king of Ethiopia because of the longevity of Ethiopian kingship. Haile Selassie was seen as the climax of the revelation of God, whose first manifestation was Moses, the second was Elijah, the third was Jesus Christ, then Haile Selassie was the final incarnation, and he would never die.

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