The Rastafari, he explained, were Ethiopians, and they had all come to live in the Dungle before going back to Africa and their King—but not, he said, before they had conquered the West and driven away the white men. But, I said, none of the slaves that came to the West Indies were from Ethiopia, which was inhabited by a different, a Semitic race. He waved this aside. ‘That’s all lies,’ he answered, ‘that’s what the history books say, but the history books are all written by white folks to make a fool of the black men. We’re from Abyssinia. We got wise men, and they tell the truth.’ There was no more to be said about that.
There were, he continued, only a few hundred Rastafari in Jamaica—but there were millions in America and millions and millions in Abyssinia, all ready to conquer the white race and make Haile Selassie king of the world. ‘Do you stand up when they play ‘God Save the King’? Well I don’t, no sir. I sit down and drive the legs of the chair into the ground.’ He made the gesture of doing this with his biscuit-tin. The others grunted their agreement. ‘That’s right, Haile Selassie is the only king. Long live the red, yellow and green!’
—from Patrick Leigh Fermor’s The Traveller’s Tree: A Journey Through the Caribbean Islands. Written in 1950, well before Jamaica’s official independence in 1962. From the chapter on Jamaica, Leigh Fermor is visiting the Dungle (Dunghill), the poor neighborhood by the train tracks in Kingston when the Rastafarians live. The photographs are from the book as well, taken by A. Costa, and have pretty amazing captions. The first: “A wooden Rastafari banner on the outskirts of the Dunghill. A red-yellow-green Ethiopian tricolor can just be seen in the distance.”; the latter: “A slightly insane and only half-genuine Rastafari standing in front of a design of Abyssinian intention that he has scratched on a wall opposite the entrance to the Dunghill.”