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The Promise Key

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Title: The Promise Key  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Rastafari, Holy Piby, Vernon Carrington, Charles Edwards (Rastafari), Archibald Dunkley
Collection: Rastafarian Texts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Promise Key

The Promise Key is a Rastafari movement tract by Leonard P. Howell, a Jamaican preacher. Published around 1935 under Howell's Hindu pen name G.G. Maragh (for Gong Guru), meaning "teacher of famed wisdom", the tract bears some close similarities to an earlier (1926) writing by Fitz Balintine Pettersburg, the Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy, but omitting much of the stream of consciousness language, long opaque abbreviations, and repetition.

Some lines of The Promise Key were taken verbatim from the Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy; for example, the slogan "Gross beauty is the Queen in hell" may be found in both works, as part of a general condemnation of western aesthetics.

Most significantly, the identities of "King Alpha and Queen Omega" were changed from Fitz Balintine Pettersburg and his wife, as in the Royal Parchment Scroll, to Emperor Haile Selassie and Empress Menen Asfaw. This was one of the key innovations of the Howellites, and is today an article of faith of Rastafari.

In 1933, Howell started to preach that Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (Ras Tafari) was the Messiah, that Black people were the chosen people, and would soon be repatriated to Ethiopia. He soon attracted the attention of the colonial authorities, and was arrested in December 1934 for sedition. In March 1935 he was sentenced to two years imprisonment, when he apparently wrote The Promise Key. After he was released he published a newspaper called "The People's Voice". In 1954, his commune was raided and much literature, including copies of this book, were burned. Howell was found dead under suspicious circumstances in February

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