The roots and praxis of black theology in Jamaica find their antecedents and currency in the teachings of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the Jah movement of Rastafari. I take the counsel of Lewin Williams seriously that the Christian church in Jamaica missed an opportunity to relate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the plight of Afro-Jamaicans in their quest for justice in socioeconomic terms because the church unwittingly embraced Euro-American missionary theology. Even when the church was sympathetic to the plight of Afro-Jamaicans, who were severely affected by “persistent poverty,” it failed to enter into solidarity with the poor.
There was, in many cases, little difference between the commitments of the church toward the poor and those of the colonizer. The church often aped the ways of the colonizer.
Black theology, as the praxis of black people agitating and protesting for equal rights and the right to choose their own social and political destinies, occurred outside the church. We look therefore to the architects of black theology in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey and the Jah movement of Rastafari. I find it interesting that one of the oldest Christian churches in Jamaica, the Anglican Church, adopted for inclusion in its hymnal two songs of well-known Rastafarians, Bob Marley's “One Love” and Peter Tosh's version of Psalm 27. The rector of St. Mary the Virgin, the Revd. Canon Ernie Gordon, made the announcement and noted that “One Love” was used in an ordination service at St. Andrew Parish Church two years ago.
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