The First Rasta (Short Film)

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Leonard Percival Howell (June 16, 1898 – 1981) was a Jamaican religious figure. He was one of the first preachers of the Rastafari movement (along with Joseph Hibbert, Archibald Dunkley, and Robert Hinds), and is sometimes known as “The First Rasta.”

Born in May Crawle River, Jamaica, Howell left the country as a youth and returned in 1932. He began preaching in 1933 about what he considered the symbolic portent for the African diaspora—the crowning of Ras Tafari Makonnen as Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. His preaching asserted that Haile Selassie was the “Messiah returned to earth.” Although this resulted in him being arrested, tried for sedition and imprisoned for two years, the Rastafari movement grew. [1]

Over the following years, Howell came into conflict with all the establishment authorities in Jamaica: the planters, the trade unions, established churches, police and colonial authorities. Nevertheless, this movement prospered, and today the Rastafari faith exists worldwide.

Leonard Howell died in Kingston, Jamaica.

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