OneWorld Magazine presents
THE UNIVERSAL ETHIOPIAN ANTHEM
Marcus Garvey's middle name was "Mosiah," a fact to which the people
would have attached great significance given the strong tradition of wordplay
in Jamaican cultured Mosiah being suggestive of a cross between Moses and
Messiah. Too much is already known and written about the life, work, and
impact of Garvey throughout the African world, continent and diaspora, for me
to trace these subjects. I wish, however, to single out two recurrent themes
in his idealization of Africa: Africa as symbol of identity, and Africa as
home. Like the many preachers before him, Garvey tirelessly used the biblical
references to the name Ethiopia, the mere mention of which "excited powerful
emotions in the hearts of Christian Blacks" (Lewis 1987, 168). When therefore
six years after founding the UNIA and building a powerful international mass
movement, Garvey summoned the First Convention in New York in 1920, the name
Ethiopia was adopted as the focal point of identity for blacks the world over.
The fortieth demand in the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World read: "Resolved, that the anthem 'Ethiopia, Thou Land of Our Fathers,' etc., shall be the anthem of the Negro race."
No one who has stood to the singing of one's national anthem on some important or historic occasion, or the anthem of a group or a movements can fail to imagine the emotional power transmitted by hundreds and thousands of people of African descent singing this song. Hearing old Garveyites sing it even today or the Rastafari sing their own adaptation of it is enough to convince one that the anthem has lost none of its power even if the Garveyite movement has. It undoubtedly stirred the same passion then as the "Nkosi sikele i Africa," the national anthem of the African National Congress of South Africa, does today. (*)
(*)At the singing of "Nkosi sikele i Africa" in the assembly hall of the University of the West Indies, Mona, on the historic visit of Nelson and Winnie Mandela to Jamaica in 1991, many academics, white and black, not to mention other staff and students of the university and other visitors, their fists clenched above their heads, sang this anthem as a sign of their identification with the struggles of the people whose hopes it represented.
The Female Taboo | Beliefs and Rituals | Universal Ethiopian Anthem
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