Shashamene is home to a Rastafarian community from the Caribbean. The late Emperor Haile Selassie I granted them land here in perpetuity in recognition of the support and solidarity of the people of African origin in the Caribbean for Ethiopia at the time of the Fascist aggression in 1935, when Mussolini’s Italian forces invaded the country.

Ethiopia is the spiritual home- if not the geographical base- of Rastafarianism, a religious and political movement which began in Jamaica in the 1920s, and has spread throughout the Caribbean, North America and Western Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people of Afro- Caribbean origin regard Ras Tafari or the Emperor Haile Silassie, as he later styled himself as the Messiah and champion of the black race, because he was the king of the only African country never colonized. Rastafarianism, who identify with the Israelites of the Old Testament, await their own ‘exodus’; redemption for all people of African descent by repatriation back to Africa.

Haile Selassie, the lion of Judah, they believe, is not dead, and one day will lead them home. The most obvious features of Rastafarian culture are their distinctive reggae music and their ‘dreadlocks’; long braids of hair, often worn under caps in the Ethiopian National color; red, yellow, and green. But many of them also follow strict dietary laws, and have developed a form o religious mysticism which blends together African and Old Testament practices.

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