Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Brother Man By Roger Mais

  • The Biography of Roger Mais

Roger Mais was born on 11 August 1905 in Kingston, Jamaica, into a contented, educated middle-class Jamaican family, living in the Blue Mountains area where his father was a farmer. When he was a younger he was home schooled and received vigilant foundation from the Bible, in which his words and accent is emphasis in his work. He entered Calabar High School in Kingston, but made little use of the Cambridge certificate he obtained. By earning a living he had many different types of jobs like office work, selling insurance and many others within the age range of 17 to 30 years old. In the early 1930s Mais began writing verse and short stories, and later a number of plays. He was swept up in the riots and workers rebellion of 1938, and thereafter was an entirely committed supporter and protester involved with the PNP and Jamaican nationalism. His essays and short stories, mostly published in Public Opinion, were the literary attachment to Edna Manley's discovery of an increase anti-colonial Jamaican spirit in sculpture. He published two collections of stories, Face and Other Stories, and Most of All Man in 1942. He began work of art around this time. His review of Churchill's imperialist philosophy, 'Now We Know' brought Mais to court and he was sentenced to six months in prison for treason. His experience fed into his first published novel. He wrote further unpublished novels and plays before finding a publisher for, The Hills Were Joyful Together in 1951, Brother Man in 1954 and Black Lightning in 1955. His first visit to the United Kingdom was in 1952 but at the same time he went to France in 1954 found out he had
a life-threatening cancer. He returned to Jamaica, tried to finish a fourth novel, but died before its achievement in 1955 at the age of forty- nine.

Critics Review on the Book

 Edward Braithwaite affirms in his introduction that Brother Man is Roger Mais' “most excellent novel because it reveals the author's entire varied talents.”  In addition Edward also stated that, “good and evil in the Jamaican slums are brought to life.”  Others assumed so as to he was fascinated in symbols stemming more or less exclusively from the stories about biblical characters and from Greek mythology.

Roger Mais’ second novel, “Brother Man”, has been considered as an “excellent novel on the start of Rastafarianism in Jamaica.”

A Jamaican novelist and writer by the name of Annie Paul, who wrote many novels, states that Brother Man is “a storyline that is recommended for any reader to be engaged in,” she continues to say that “‘Brother Man’ has unmistakably stood the trial of time”. “The author’s demonstration of an informal discussion” is the only fault Paul finds within the novel. Also Paul states that “Mais chose to copy the Jamaican dialect in a quaint African-Americanized dialect of his own making.”

The Religious View of Rastafarianism

 Rastafarian urbanized in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1920s and 30s, The Rastafarian movement began with the teachings of Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), a black Jamaican who led a "Back to Africa" movement. He taught that Africans are the true Israelites and have been exiled to Jamaica and other parts of the world as divine punishment. Garvey is regarded as a second John the Baptist and famously prophesied in 1927. Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned emperor of Ethiopia, he ruled until 1974 and at his coronation he took the name Haile Selassie, meaning "Might of the Trinity."

Selassie also took the titles, "Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God and King of the Kings of Ethiopia," and were traditionally given to Ethiopian kings and reflect the Old Testament emphasis of Ethiopian Christianity. For Rastafarians, Selassie's coronation was a clear fulfillment of Revelation 5:5, Ezekiel 28:25, and Marcus Garvey's prophecy.
Followers of Garvey's teachings believed that Selassie is the messiah that had been predicted, and that his coronation indicated the divine punishment was completed and the return to Africa would begin. Rastafarians named their movement for Ras Tafari and regarded the emperor as the physical presence of God (Jah) on earth.

Haile Selassie was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and his explicitly denied his divine status as proclaimed in Jamaica. Leonard Howell emerged as an early leader of the movement. He taught six fundamental Rastafarian principles: (1) hatred for the White race; (2) the complete superiority of the Black race; (3) revenge on Whites for their wickedness; (4) the negation, persecution, and humiliation of the government and legal bodies of Jamaica; (5) preparation to go back to Africa; and (6) acknowledging Emperor Haile Selassie as the Supreme Being and only ruler of Black people. Many of these principles were subsequently abandoned as the Rastafarian movement developed.
The sacred text of Rastafarians is the Holy Piby, the "Black Man's Bible." It was compiled by Robert Athlyi Rogers of Anguilla from 1913 to 1917 and published in 1924. The Holy Piby is a version of the Christian Bible that has been altered to remove all the deliberate distortions that are believed to have been made by white leaders during its translation into English.
The Ethiopian national epic, the Kebra Negast, is also respected by Rastas, but less so than the Bible.

Rastafarians believe in the Judeo-Christian God, whom they call Jah. In general, Rastafarian beliefs are based in Judaism and Christianity, with an emphasis on Old Testament laws and prophecies and the Book of Revelation. Allegorical meaning is often sought in the Holy Piby.
Rastafarians are perhaps best known for their religious use of marijuana, which grows plentifully in Jamaica. Rastas know it as ganja, the holy herb, Iley or Callie, and believe it was given by God. Scriptural support is found especially in Psalm 104:14: "He causeth the grass for the cattle and herb for the service of man." Other texts interpreted to refer to cannabis include Genesis 3:18, Exodus 10:12, and Proverbs 15:17. In addition to ritual use, Rastas also use marijuana for medicinal purposes, applying it to a variety of ailments including colds. 

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