Dread History:
The African Diaspora,
Ethiopianism, and Rastafari

Nyabinghi Tabernacle, Jamaica

Contemporary Nyabinghi tabernacles like this one are modeled after churches in Ethiopia. An African-oriented ritual known as Nyabinghi, emerged as part of Rastafari culture in Jamaica during its formative period in the 1940s (see terminology). These gatherings 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 a 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