Dread History:
The African Diaspora,
Ethiopianism, and Rastafari


Nyabinghi Tabernacle, Trelawney, Jamaica

An African-oriented ritual known as Nyabinghi emerged among Jamaican Rastafari during its formative period in the 1940s (see terminology). These gatherings are traditionally held in tabernacles such as the one shown here. These events celebrate such dates as the birthday of Haille Selassie (July 23, 1892), Ethiopian New Year(September 17), and Ethiopian Christmas (January 6). The term Nyabinghi was appropriated from an African secret society (see terminology). Many African Americans and West Indians who have become Rastafari outside Jamaica now make pilgrimages to Jamaica to attend these island-wide religious ceremonies.

photograph by Jake Homiak, Smithsonian Institution

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