The Key Figures

Leonard P. Howell
The first propagator of Rastafari was Leonard P. Howell. He also founded the Pinnacle Encampment in an abandoned estate between Kingston and Spanish Town, where the followers of this new religion found a safe haven. Howell was the Chief of the village and was rumored to have taken thirteen wives for himself. The village was run similarly to the Maroons in Accompong in the hills of Jamaica. Howell eventually proclaimed the he should be the one who should be worshiped and not Haile Selassie. He was confined to a mental institution in 1954 and the Pinnacle was closed down.

Below are the 6 foundations by Leonard P. Howell for Rastafari. Please note that not all Rastafarians hold some of these beliefs:

  • Hatred for the White race
  • The superiority of the Black race
  • Revenge on Whites for their wickedness
  • The negation, persecution and humiliation of the government and legal bodies of Jamaica
    Preparation to return to Africa
  • Acknowledgment of Emperor Haile Selassie I as the Supreme Being and the only ruler of the Black people.

Marcus Garvey
Rastafarians claim that Marcus Garveyforetold the rise of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie when in 1927 he told a church congregation, in a Kingston church, they should “look to Africa when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand”. There are no official records or writings on this and many “Garveyites” have disputed this claim as being a mis-interpretation of an article written by Marcus Garvey that appeared in his Jamaican newspaper, The Blackman (Also the New York-based Negro World newspaper) on November 8, 1930.

Rastafarians regard Marcus Garvey as a prophet similar to John the Baptist, who foretold Christ’s coming. “Garveyite” historians and also some of Garvey writings show that he saw H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie as an African man who could influence the world and not as a God. Garvey has even harshly criticized Emperor Haile Selassie about his conduct in Ethiopia’s war with Italy in 1935. Marcus Garvey and his organization, Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) also had a few disagreements with Leonard P. Howell on his teaching of Emperor Haile Selassie being the Messiah. In one case Leonard P. Howell was not allowed to sell pictures of Emperor Haile Selassie at the UNIA headquarters in Kingston.

Marcus Garvey played a role in the ideation with his Return to Africa movement at the turn of the 20th Century.

H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie

Emperor Haile Selassie is regarded as the black Messiah. We have dedicated an extensive article to H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie

Prince Emanuel Charles Edwards
The late Prince Emanuel Charles Edwards is the central figure in the Bobo Shanti sect of Rastafari. See Bobo Shanti for more information.

Related Articles, Resources and Links

Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey and the Early Rastafarians: Continuity and Discontinuity