- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Mortimo Planno, a philosopher regarded as a key figure in the development of the Rastafarian religion, died March 6 at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, after suffering complications from a thyroid condition. He was 85.

Mr. Planno was one of the most influential people in the development of Rastafarianism, a sect whose members mostly regard Africa as the promised land and former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as a divine figure.

Though rejected by mainstream Jamaican society, the movement grew into a structured religion, in large part under Mr. Planno’s influence.

Some Rastafarians smoke marijuana as a sacrament, but others object to its use. Most Rastafarians preach a oneness with nature and grow their hair into long matted strands called dreadlocks.

Mr. Planno taught the principles of Rastafarianism at his home in the Kingston ghetto of Trench Town to students who included the late singer Bob Marley, perhaps the world’s best-known adherent of the movement.

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