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RAS TAFAR I and The NAMING of the REGGAE BOYZ

In 1995 the Zambian national football engaged Jamaica in a friendly international against the senior national team at the National Stadium in Kingston. In November of the same year, the Jamaica senior team journeyed into the Cultural ’homeland’ of Africa (Zambia) as part of a marketing tour that would take the national senior team to every continent over the next four years. The Zambian tour was significant for other reasons. Davies and Earle One Love tell us that:

On arrival at the airport, the Jamaican party was met by an enthusiastic crowd of local fans, and among the placards was written the message Welcome to Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz . A journalist, who wired his story across the globe, picked up the nickname and it immediately stuck.”

This ‘dubbing’ of Reggae onto the imagery of Jamaica’s national football team held the possibility of a new ‘liberation icon’ for the Black/African/Caribbean people. The team had been given a sense of IDENTITY and PURPOSE. The intuition to affix the international sound of REGGAE to the Identity of the Jamaican NATIONAL football team emerged from the “liberation consciousness” of REGGAE MUSIC given unto the Africans through the Powers of RastafarI, and exemplified by Bob Marley and the Wailers whose music set the foundation for Zimbabwe’s national Anthem, AND 'twinned' connected the cultural/spiritual Powers of Ras TafarI and RESISTANCE to the Determination and Creative Energies of the footballers.

When asked why there were no Rastafarians in the national Reggae Boyz football program, Delroy Seixias, founder and manager of Cush United Masters League team remarks: “But it should be because Rasta has that spirituality and football is a ‘spiritual movement’ Seixias concludes: “Rasta is a spiritual vibe to have in a side. When a coach cannot motivate a player to that extent, a Rasta Man can do it. Rasta has that spirituality.”

In response to the same question, Ratty Edwards replies: “In a nutshell people would call it politics.” Why no Rasta in the Jamaica national team now? Former KC schoolboy standout ‘Stumpy Mclean responds: “...a just tribulation...Burrell-Simoes may just not like Rasta because we smoke a little herb and even if you don’t they will believe you do and we still say Selassie I is God. I am left to conclude that it must be a ‘cultural problem’. From Allan Skill Cole days to the present-“[...] dem fite the herb too hard dem crucify you for it like is the worst crime”. Ironically, Ras TafarI continues to struggle for legitimacy while an alien group in the Mormons of Utah USA have gained legal acceptance on an island dominated by a Black African majority population.

Personal experiences accumulated both in Jamaica and in the United States of America reveal that the discrimination and oppression felt in Jamaica being Ras Tafar I is more insidious than the ‘white racism’ encountered as a Black Man in America. Selah!

Excerpt from: "From Emancipation to the Reggae Boyz: A political, historical, socio-economic and 

cultural Analysis of Liberation and Sport in JAMAICA....viewed through the lens of International football.

by I MAN BLAK, PhD / Dr. Don Davis

  • Title: RAS TAFAR I and The NAMING of the REGGAE BOYZ
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