Advertisement

Rastafarian faith mentor Ras Bandele Selassie dies

Ras Bandele Selassie wearing red, yellow and green clothing
Ras Bandele Selassie ran the Rastafari Culture Centre in St Paul's for 40 years

A man who "shone a light" on the Rastafarian faith has died aged 73 following a short illness.

Ras Bandele Selassie ran the Rastafari Culture Centre in St Paul's, Bristol, from the 1990s.

He was considered a mentor to many young people in the African Caribbean community, as well as an advocate of peace.

"He had the most wonderful smile that just made you feel uplifted," said friend Pauline Swaby.

In 1994, use of the building on Grosvenor Road was gifted to the family of Marlon Thomas, who was attacked by a gang of fairground workers on Durdham Down, and left in a "waking coma".

The Justice For Marlon Thomas Campaign used the ground floor, while the family allowed Rastafarian elder, Ras Bandele Selassie, to live upstairs.

He became not only a tenant of the building, but a pillar of the community, turning it into a space Rastafarians could practise their religion.

'Shone a light'

Ras Benji worked with Ras Bandele for many years at Fairfield House, in Bath, as an operations and communities manager.

"Ras Bandele really shone a light as a person of the Rastafari faith. You could ask him anything about the faith and he would be able to give you the answer," he said.

"He was a font of knowledge and wisdom, and he's going to be greatly missed."

Pauline Swaby sitting down wearing a head covering
Ms Swaby said whenever she needed "uplifting", she would call Ras Bandele

Pauline Swaby is the manager of the Black Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens Association, known as BEMSCA.

She said most of all, she will miss Ras Bendele's "smile and embrace".

"The compassion, the kindness, the wonderful, welcoming spirit that he had for everyone," she said.

"When you met him, you could walk away but you would still remember him. He had the most wonderful smile that just made you feel uplifted."

Ras Habakkuk looking at the camera
Mr Habakkuk said Ras Bandele was "humble and dedicated" to his faith

Ras Habakkuk, Ras Bandele's cousin and childhood friend, said there was an unbreakable bond between the two.

"Right now I'm feeling the pain, because he's my right hand," he said.

"I don't do anything without consulting with him. We are brothers, there was a blood-tie between us.

"As I said to him a couple of months ago, with his illness, if I had an extra heart I would give it to him. Or I would give him my heart, to bring him back into liberty."


Follow BBC Bristol on Facebook, X and Instagram. Send your story ideas to us on email or via WhatsApp on 0800 313 4630.