ELDER RAS MALACHI: A TRIBUTE
Ras Naphtali remembers him thus: “I will always remember the first time I met Ras Malachi, in early 1976, at No 28 St Agnes Place (the Tabernacle at RasTafari House). His deep, piercing, yet comely greeting was: ‘I was glad when they said unto me, let us go up into the house of God.’ (Adopted from Psalm 122 v 1).
“Standing next to a wooden, waist-high Bible stand in the middle of the first-floor kitchen, he was dressed in a regal, full length, bright-red priestly robe. My questions seemed to have agitated his fierce response in defence of his name and the identity of ‘Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who’, he said, ‘revealed Himself in the Person and Character of the Conquering Lion of Judah, Emperor Haile Selassie I, the same Ras Tafari, meaning Head Creator, without apology!’ I was shaken at first, and then captivated by the wisdom of his testimonies ever since. Ras Malachi was a man consumed by God; a man of God!”
Regarding his adopted spiritual name, Malachi Gad, Malachi was inspired by Prophet Malachi who wrote the book of the Bible called Malachi. This name means God’s Messenger. The name Gad was taken from the son of Jacob/Israel and applied to him according to the spiritual functions within the Twelve Tribes of Israel organisation of Rastafari for one who is born in November. His interpretation of its meaning was ‘Spiritual Leader of God’s Troop, Orator and Son of the Most High’.
We, the Ethiopian World Federation, Inc., London Local branch, of which Elder Ras Malachi was a prominent member, know of him from the earliest days of the world renowned Rastafari Tabernacle at 28-34 St Agnes Place, Kennington, London since 1968. He was joint founder and teacher of the Tabernacle, along with leader, Ras Menelik Pepe Judah, and Ras Binghi I-Frank I, both of whom have also passed. May their souls rest in peace. With the approval of Prophet Gad, who was visiting England from Jamaica, Ras Menelik, along with Ras Binghi and Ras Malachi, established the British branch of Twelve Tribes of Israel (12 Tribes) at St Agnes Place in 1974.
In 1978-79, Twelve Tribes ceased to function at St Agnes Place and the members replaced it with Rastafari International, which called an international Conference in 1981 at Brixton Town Hall. This Conference revitalised the 1937 international organisation, the Ethiopian World Federation, Inc. and subsequently became the London Local branch, of which Ras Malachi was a key member.
Elder Ras Malachi was a highly spiritual man who served during the early years as priest and counsellor to I and I community. He was fond of playing his Niahbinghi drum as a spiritual therapy. His counselling was a humbling rhetoric to all those who heard it. He would evidence his statements with readings from the Scriptures to declare the identity and role of the nation of peoples under God’s reign. His own early confessions as Ras Gad led to the established order and functions of the Twelve Tribes of Israel at St Agnes Place before the change of function in 1978-79. A chapter per day was his biblical prescription and medicine for the freedom and liberation of mankind’s soul from universal suffering. Even though he withdrew from the priestly functions in his later years, Ras Malachi remained a counsellor who always commanded attention to his words of conscience and advice wherever he spoke; in any forum.
Ras Malachi was widely known, internationally, especially in Jamaica, where he was born and grown, and in England where he lived for several decades. He is also remembered in Ethiopia from his visit there with his close brethren, the late Bob Marley/Skipper/Joseph, in 1979.
His sharp elegance in dress code, tailored to convey royal dignity and majesty, was matched by his deliberations in RasTafari communities internationally in shaping the course and history of the organisations of Rastafari people in a vision still not dimmed by the setting of the sun in his life. His light will remain in our hearts for posterity, from generation to generations.
Our sympathies go out to his Family and his extended Rastafari Family and friends to whom he is greatly missed in gratitude and respect to his kindness and consideration. May his soul be guided by The Head Creator to dwell in peace. Selah.
Information obtained from official files and from in-depth recollections from individual members, Ras Naphtali-George James and Ras Teges King.