One Love: Word Sounds & Powah
January 11, 2010

Label Screen Edge
Format DVD - Region Free
Languages English/Patois
Subtitles NA
Length 110 minutes (approx.)
Producer/Director Howard Johnson
In the late 80s director Howard Johnson - known for his documentaries 'Deep Roots' and 'Carrying The Swing' - shot three documentaries in London and Nottingham and the result formed a unique document of Rasta history, beliefs and artistic creation. In these 3 documentaries, the late Jah Bones sets out the Rasta agenda and illustrates it with drums, music, poems and praises from dedicated Rasta interpreters like Jah Shepherd, Ras Anum Iyapo and Cosmo Ben Imhotep. The Rastafari movement is a monotheistic, Abrahamic, new religious movement that arose in a Christian culture in Jamaica in the 1930s. Its adherents, who worship Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, former Emperor of Ethiopia (1930-1936 and 1941-1974), as The second advent, are known as Rastafarians, or Rastas.

  • PART ONE: Nyabinghi Blood & Fire

  • This part was filmed at the Rastafari Universal Zion HQ in Tottenham, London. Nyabinghi is the sacred drumming ritual that calls on thunder, lightning, brimstone, blood and fire to burn and destroy the weakheart and promote the righteous. This is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to see a real nyabinghi, with its spiritual African heartbeat, its verbal aggression to chant down Babylon, and its sheer power.

  • PART TWO: Blues For Rastafari

  • Part two was mainly shot at the Simba Project, Woolwich, London. It deals with the historical dimension and roots of Rastafari - in the Empire of Kush, 400 BC in Central Africa, in the mix of African and Christian Biblical traditions during slavery, including pocomania in Jamaica, with the rise of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and the persecution of early pioneers in the maroon tradition like Howell at Pinnacle, Jamaica. It culminates in the reception given to Emperor Haile Selassie at Kingston Airport and the eventual globalization of the faith.

  • PART THREE: Word Sounds & Powah

  • Part three was hot in London and at Matismela, in the Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham. This segment 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 some of their classic anthems.

    We're glad that these three documentaries have finally been put to re-release by Screen Edge, but there are a few things that could have been done better. For newbies the teachings of Rastafari are hard to understand, and the movie offers a lot of 'reasoning', discussions about ethical, social, and religious issues. Rastas assert that their original African languages were stolen from them when they were taken into captivity as part of the slave trade, and that English is an imposed colonial language. Their remedy has been the creation of a modified vocabulary and dialect known as "Iyaric", reflecting their desire to take language forward and to confront the society they call Babylon. That and the lack of subtitles on these parts is very annoying and will make most viewers skip these parts. The video quality is below average, since no video restoration has been done.

    The musical parts are enjoyable. The mainstream music comes from The Naturalites, who scored with their classic anthem Picture On The Wall. The traditional music, Nyahbinghi refers to music performed at Rastafarian gatherings and holds deep spiritual and religious significance to Rastafarians. It is anchored by three specific drums - the Bass, the Fundeh and the Keteh and there's plenty footage of it here.

    Here's the track listing:
    Tear Down Babylon, Shine Your Light In The Valley, Rasta Revolution, Black Liberation Day, Rastaman Beat Down Babylon - Nyabinghi Drums Of RUZ.
    Clap Your Tiny Hands, Rastaman Beat Down Babylon - Jah Bones On Drums & Vocal.
    Song Of The Motherland - Ras Anum Iyapo, Drum & Vocal.
    I Love Jah, Picture On The Wall, The Way I Feel, Jah Is Marvellous - The Naturalites