Jah Kingdom

Rastafarians, Tanzania, and Pan-Africanism in the Age of Decolonization

By Monique A. Bedasse

270 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 5 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3359-6
    Published: October 2017
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3358-9
    Published: October 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-3360-2
    Published: August 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4930-4
    Published: August 2017

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Awards & distinctions

2018 Wesley-Logan Prize, American Historical Association

Anna Julia Cooper and C.L.R. James Award, National Council for Black Studies

A 2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

From its beginnings in 1930s Jamaica, the Rastafarian movement has become a global presence. While the existing studies of the Rastafarian movement have primarily focused on its cultural expression through reggae music, art, and iconography, Monique A. Bedasse argues that repatriation to Africa represents the most important vehicle of Rastafari’s international growth. Shifting the scholarship on repatriation from Ethiopia to Tanzania, Bedasse foregrounds Rastafari’s enduring connection to black radical politics and establishes Tanzania as a critical site to explore gender, religion, race, citizenship, socialism, and nation. Beyond her engagement with how the Rastafarian idea of Africa translated into a lived reality, she demonstrates how Tanzanian state and nonstate actors not only validated the Rastafarian idea of diaspora but were also crucial to defining the parameters of Pan-Africanism.

Based on previously undiscovered oral and written sources from Tanzania, Jamaica, England, the United States, and Trinidad, Bedasse uncovers a vast and varied transnational network--including Julius Nyerere, Michael Manley, and C. L. R James--revealing Rastafari’s entrenchment in the making of Pan-Africanism in the postindependence period.

About the Author

Monique A. Bedasse is assistant professor of history and African and African American studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
For more information about Monique A. Bedasse, visit the Author Page.


“Adds to a growing body of scholarship that seeks to forge new paradigms for the history of black internationalism. . . . An essential text.” —Journal of African American History

“Presents a study of a very small group of people whose actions represent a very large leap of faith with huge implications for global history . . . . An interesting and provocative work.”—American Historical Review

"Monique Bedasse has done an amazing thing: she has taken what is presumed to be primarily a cultural phenomenon and shown its real-world, trans-spatial dimensions. Beautifully and movingly written, this is a refreshingly candid appraisal of the relationship between Jamaica and Tanzania through Rastafarian ideology, and the ways in which diasporic and continental African actors come together in a context of anticolonial struggle.”—Michael A. Gomez, New York University

“Jah Kingdom is the work of a talented, imaginative historian whose innovative approach to Rastafari and black internationalism captures a neglected stream in the long history of Pan-African political aspirations and anticolonial struggles. Through prodigious research, oral interviews, and a conceptually rich historiographical engagement, Monique Bedasse reveals a wide range of alternative political imaginaries that ultimately facilitated Tanzania assuming a central place in African diasporic politics and Rastafarian decolonial aspirations.”—Minkah Makalani, University of Texas at Austin