June 24th, 2009
Producer/Director: Howard Johnson
Label: Screen EDG/MDV Visual
Cat. No.: EDGE59D
Region Code: 0
Duration: 110 minutes
Release date: May 19, 2009
One Love: Word Sounds & Powah is a remarkable three episode series that delves deep into Rastafari and Nyabinghi culture. Often misunderstood and stereotyped, this film is a rare opportunity for an inside glimpse into the practices and ideology of Rastafari. Shot in London and Nottingham in the early ‘90s, the three episodes form a unique document of Rasta history, reasoning, and artistic creation. The film features the late Jah Bones who sets out the Rasta agenda illustrated with drums, music, poems and praises from dedicated interpreters like Jah Sheperd, Ras Anum Iyapo and Cosmo Ben Imhotep.
Part One: Nyabinghi Blood and Fire
Filmed at the Rastafari Universal Zion headquarters in Tottenham, London, this is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to observe the sacred drumming ritual that calls on thunder, lighting, brimstone, blood and fire to burn and destroy the weak hearted and promote the righteous. The ceremony brings together old, young, men and woman in the praise of Jah and the celebration of Rastafari.
Part Two: Blues for Rastafari
Shot mainly at the Simba Project, Woolwich, London, this episode deals with the historical dimensions and roots of Rastafari. Beginning with the Empire of Kush, 400 BC in Central Africa, the film discusses the impact of African Biblical traditions during slavery, including pocomania in Jamaica. It then progresses to the rise of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and the persecution of the early pioneers in the maroon tradition like Leonard Howell at Pinnacle, Jamaica. This section culminates with a reception given to Emperor Haile Selassie I at the Kingston Airport and the eventual globalization of the movement.
Part Three: Word Sounds and Powah
Shot in London and at the Matismela, in the Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham, this episode describes various notions of livity-Rasta as a way of life, as a life-force, as a sense of well-being, as a receptacle of love and creation, as humility in the face of human and corporate greed, and as a teaching which opposes isms and schisms. Musical interpretation is provided by the Naturalites, who, amongst other praises to Jah, sing their classic anthem Picture on the Wall.
The 110 minute DVD was directed by Howard Johnson, who also directed the Deep Roots series and the soon to be released, much anticipated Rocker s Roadshow. Johnson is able to capture cultural aspects from a fly-on-the-wall perspective that really brings forth the blend of music and life that exists in Jamaica and its Diaspora.
Posted by Heather O’Sullivan
Review Genre(s): Reggae