Published On: Mon, Jun 19th, 2017

Groundation

Jacob Gelt Dekker“Anansi, please tell me, is your Akan family Christian, maybe Catholic or Protestant? Here in Jamaica, there are almost no Catholics; all have become Protestants of the second Reformation, Evangelicals. There is a church at every corner of every street.”

“What difference does it make, Sir? Yes for sure, people adopted Gods of their masters, especially slaves, sold to the new world, took hope to find an escape route. Don't you call that the Stockholm syndrome in modern lingo? Hehehehe!”

“Hey you, you need Downpressor to take you to Groundations?!” A dreadlocks framed face of a muscular, pleasant young man appeared at the docks.

“Hi, Anansi, who is this? Did you organize a tour guide? I do not want any tour guides!

Anansi was hanging in his hammock, puffing a fat joint. Not a sensible word would come out of his mouth for a while. After all, what can you expect from a spider?

“It's a humpy dumpy bumpy, rocky road,” sang the Downpressor.

“Rain, or sunshine on life's rocky road,

It's a humpy Groundation.

Lord them say, all they know.

Love and see, as they row.”

A living God is 'just' in this one Black Downpressor,

A man from the Land called Zion,

with an Amharic-Christian name,

the name of the Holly Trinity.

Haile Selassie is His name.

The Black, Black Reggae music is a message from This Man.”

We sped through the moonlit night. I clung to Downpressor for life-saving, off to some druggy Groundation-hellhole on a ramshackle motorcycle, spitting thunder and fire exhaust in the pitch dark.

“I am Naphtali,” said the young man. My Root is Akan. Ours is the story of the scriptures, The Twelve Tribes of Israel. We form the Rastafari religious group and make up the Mansions of Rastafari.

Each member belongs to one of the Twelve Tribes, determined by Gregorian birth month, represented by a color, a part of the body, and a character trait, often called the "faculty. I am the Strong -softee."

“We come from the migrations of the Hebrew Israelites throughout the continent of Africa, from West Africa where the trans-Atlantic slave trade took place.”

The singular but absurd opinion that American tribes and Afro-Americans descended from the Hebrews or the ten lost tribes has steadfastly grown since 1830. Also, Mormons claim the same descendency. The desire to belong to a selected group of Divinely Chosen Ones, one Holy Family, overcomes all rational and reason.

According to the Bible, the Assyrians of the eighth-century B.C.E. (722 BCE), exiled ten of the original twelve tribes, from their land in the northern kingdom of Israel. Many prominent Americans, such as William Penn and Elias Boudinot, believed that they ended up in America.

The Groundation on a small plot in a sugar cane field quickly filled up with Ganja smoking congregation. In thick smoke clouds, black-veiled priests mumbled something about the future, and a slow reggae by heavily maned musicians, like spurring lions wailed through the night. I was invisible as a white man.

Naphtali, agitated after an encounter with an Alderman, took me away, only after a brief while. We rode an endless winding path up into the sky, in the pitch dark. The next morning, I woke up in the cool air of the Blue Mountains. A double rainbow bridged the valley. Roasted Blue Mountain coffee filled the den.

Most of Ethiopian Jews, the Falashas, lived in an area around Lake Tana in the Gondar region among the Wolqayit, Shire, and Tselemt, Dembia, Segelt, Quara, and Belesa. How similar were the surroundings? Happy, golden memories filled me, even without Ganja.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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