Bobo Ashanti

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Bobo Ashanti ("Ashanti" to pay homage to their Asante ancestors of the Akan tribe in present-day Ghana), also called the Ethiopian International Congress, is a religious group originating in Bull Bay near Kingston, Jamaica. The Bobo Ashanti are one of the strictest Mansions of Rastafari. They cover their dreadlocks with turbans and wear long robes. While some Nyabinghi and Twelve tribe Rastafari drink wine and are either vegetarians or omnivores (eating plants, animals, and fungi), the Bobo Ashanti are all strictly vegan and stick to the biblical restrictions regarding their vow; they also add extra restrictions to their diet, e.g. they do not eat mangoes or sugarcane. They also adhere to a strict communal life, where women are separated from men; women are also not allowed to cook for their "priest", they can only cook for their "prophets".

The Bobo Ashanti were founded by Prince Emmanuel Charles Edwards in the 1950s. Most of its members, called "Bobos" or "Bobo dreads" and "Bobo Ashanti" because the Ashanti (Asante) was majority of African slaves in Jamaica, live in a small utopian community called Bobo Hill, which is near Bull Bay, nine miles from Kingston.

Prince Emmanuel is called "Dada" by his followers, which was a name taken from Idi Amin, who is called Idi Amin Dada. Emmanuel is also seen by the some Bobos as part of a holy trinity, together with Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie I, in which Selassie is seen as king or god (Jah), Garvey as prophet, and Emmanuel as high priest.

Additionally, some Bobos see Idi Amin, the former military dictator of Uganda during the 1970s, as a second coming of Garvey.

Twice each week and on the first Sunday of every month, the Bobos fast. Almost all songs and tributes within the community end with the phrase "Holy Emmanuel I Selassie I Jah I Rastafari." "I" symbolizes unity.

Bobos can usually be distinguished from other Rastafari by their wearing of turbans and robes. Bobo men make and carry brooms to signify cleanliness. The brooms are also sold in Kingston as a way to provide funds for the community.

Almost all men within the community are seen as prophets or priests. The function of a prophet is to "reason" and of a priest is to conduct the services.

Women and children are considered precious to men. Women must cover their legs and arms. A woman may serve food to a guest, but never to a Bobo male.

The children attend a basic school called Jerusalem School Room, but they can easily be sent to normal schools (which is very much done by the children of the Bobos who do not live in a Boboshanti camp).

The Bobos have built a strong relationship with the local community outside of Bobo Hill and they often invite people to their services.

From the mid-1990s, many reggae artists have emerged from the Bobo Ashanti; the most well-known among them are Sizzla, Capleton, Anthony B, Lutan Fyah, Turbulence, Ras Shiloh and many others.

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