Rastafarian movement / Rastafarianism


The Rastafarian movement (or "rasta") is a religious movement whose name comes from the Amharic Ras Tafari Ras, head (but here "leader, Lord"), and Tafari, "He who is afraid." Tafari is the birth name given to Haile Selassie I (Haile, "power" and Selassie "Trinity" in Amharic) Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974.


It is thus seen as a sacred figure because of his ancestry, which dates back to biblical kings David and Solomon, according to Ethiopian tradition, but also the meaning of his birth name, such as the one chosen by the priests of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for the sacrament. The choice and meaning of names were indeed of paramount importance in African culture.

The Rastafarian movement is considered by some to a religion, for others a philosophy or an ideology or a syncretism for its borrowings from the Bible. Rastas, them, view it as a lifestyle, a way of conceiving the world and all that is since its inception. Believers of this movement are Rastafarians, often called by the diminutive "Rastas".
The use of the word Rastafarianism, although correct is not accepted by Rastafarians because they are against the classification of people and advocate the unification of peoples.
For others, the Rastafari would derive its true origin of shivaïsme2. Shaivism is part of Hinduism. Shiva, primordial divinity in Hinduism, keep long hair in dreads. It is always immersed in meditation.


Origin of the movement

The Christian religion is very present in Jamaica (over 80% of the population), including the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Church of God, and since the 1970s, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.


The gospel is sung with fervor on Sunday throughout the island.
The end of slavery (abolished on the island in 1833) and especially the independence of Jamaica (August 6, 1962) allow simultaneous cultural emancipation of the Jamaican people. Different movements "Ethiopian" emerge, where the Western interpretation of the Bible is sometimes questioned.

The traditions of African cults banned by the masters survivors as Obeah (voodoo kind of local illegal and feared), the Kumina, and mixed with the Bible, or the Pocomania Pukumina.

Foundations of the Modern Movement

When the Jamaican Marcus Garvey emigrated to Harlem, where he became one of the first leaders of the black cause significant, it often refers to Ethiopia in his speeches. He writes in his principal work Philosophy & Opinions:
"Let the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob exist for the race that believes in the God of Isaac and Jacob. We, blacks, believe in the God of Ethiopia, the everlasting God, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the God of all ages. It is the God in whom we believe, and we worship through the lens of Ethiopia. "

Marcus Garvey is for many the first black prophet of the Rastafarian movement. He announced the end of the suffering of black people and his return to the roots: Africa.
In 1924, Reverend James Morris Webb gave a speech quoted in the conservative Daily Gleaner, "Look to Africa where a black king will be crowned, that will lead black people to its issuance".

The colonial press denounced this doctrine then Ethiopianism "vulgar" she attributed to Garvey. But November 2, 1930, Ethiopia, Tafari Makonnen, Ras Tafari, was crowned with the sacred crown of the Negus Nagast (King of Kings) by the name of Haile Selassie I ("Power of the Trinity"). He is the head of one of the first officially Christian nation in history, Abyssinia. According to the sacred book Glory of Kings (Kebra Nagast), tracing the history of the ancient dynasty, Selassie is a direct descendant of King Solomon and Queen Makeda of Sheba.

Prestigious representatives of Western countries attending the coronation of Selassie high profile, which is perceived by a community of farmers Ethiopianism Sligoville (Jamaica), the Pinnacle, led by Leonard Percival Howell (real founder of the Rastafarian movement), as the fulfillment of the prophecy attributed to Garvey.
Indeed, the "King of Kings, Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15) the Bible is very similar to traditional titles millennia of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, "Emperor of Ethiopia, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God, Light of the Universe. " Drawing both in Marxism, Christianity, African culture and later Hinduism, Howell considers Selassie (or "Jah," Jehovah's) as the Messiah and therefore proposes an Afrocentric interpretation of the Bible.
Cultivating hemp, which is considered a sacrament (smoked in the chalice) and spreading to the island, he was arrested for sedition in 1933 and he was interned in an asylum several times, while Pinnacle was destroyed many times by the police. Ethiopianism different movements of liberation, as the movement of Bobo Prince Emmanuel, parallel development in Jamaica.

Yet they take gradually a generic name, Rastafari, and are intended, in part, to return to the black man the important role he played in civilization, starting with the Bible, where the ancestors of Jews would Selassie Naturally, like him, Black Moses, Jesus, etc..
Gradually, and in the hope of Jesus and the Nazarites (Numbers 6-5), many Rastafarians do not cut their beards or hair, (link) a hairstyle often compared to the mane of the Lion of Judah sacred. The "locks" (nodes, loops) or "dread (dread) locks" will then form naturally in their curly hair.
Wishing to maintain good health, they follow a special diet in principle they call "I-tal" (life) (1:29 ET Genesis 9:4), which consists of rice, fruits, roots, seeds and vegetables. This diet excludes all non-organic food.
As for the name "Rasta", it originates from, divine, Selassie: Ras (head, is etymologically and his ceremonial title of Duke) Tafari (her name). Their colors are those of the imperial Ethiopia (red, gold and green colors of Africa struck the Lion of Judah).
Therefore, the Rastafarians, misunderstood, profanity, smoking hemp (ganja, "the grass of wisdom" that would have led to the tomb of Solomon) become pariahs abused. In 1954, Pinnacle is shaved, and they moved to Kingston, Back-o-Wall. The name of the ghetto comes from its location: it is attached to the wall of a cemetery, and many Jamaicans are afraid to live there for fear of "duppy" (ghost).


Spread of the movement after the late 1960s

Flag Rasta/ Lion Judah
Back-o-Wall was torn down July 12, 1966 violence. More and more musicians to rocksteady and reggae, hitherto generally close to American soul and churches convey the message of Rasta rebellion with their songs.
The style of the three drums played Nyahbinghi ceremonies Rastas (Groundation) spreads (Bob Marley will learn a song, Selassie Is The Chapel).


From 1970, a current passes through the majority rasta reggae. Bob Marley introduced the world to this culture that highlights the history of Africa, unknown, despite his extraordinary wealth. Rastas begin to gain respect in their country despite a crackdown using the prohibition of possession of cannabis, punishable by prison despite widespread throughout the population of the island.

Rasta Baby
On the other hand, the music industry finally opens the message Rasta in the production of Conscious songs to the words open to the message of Rastafarians. So until then despised by producers and distributors of the island, the Rasta message begins, after a number of Rastafarians, some expelled from Back-o-Wall settled in the ghettos of Kingston, as Trenchtown and after the visit of Haile Selassie, to be felt among the population deprived of the island.

Whereas before, the producers like Duke Reid, categorically refused, some, like Clement Seymour Dodd, Coxsone said, opening their production to compositions comprising a spiritual message and committed, contrary to prevailing love songs during the rocksteady era. His studio, Studio One starts to produce bands and artists with inspired words of Rasta message like The Gladiators, The Abyssinians, or Dennis Brown and many others.
The fact that Coxsone was one of the few to allow the use of hemp in his studio is certainly no stranger to the presence in Studio One of these groups initiators of roots reggae.

Recent developments 

If Rastas lose influence among young Jamaicans after the death of Marley in 1981, they remain strong and make a massive return, unanimous in reggae since 1994 with Garnett Silk, Buju Banton, Tony Rebel, Mutabaruka , Sizzla, etc.. Many different trends rasta live in Jamaica and are sometimes contradictory. The Bobo Ashanti, Emmanuélite the Ites, in particular, as well as more traditional branches of Christianity.
The organization of the Twelve Tribes of Israel Rastafari attempt to federate, but without success. In 1997 a party of obedience rasta even try to run for office.
Peaceful but proud, Rastas denounce pagan society (people with no sense of the spiritual aspect of life and nature in general), Babylon, and spread their culture throughout the world.

Rastafarian faith primarily to allow many poor Jamaicans to find dignity and meaning to their lives difficult, remaining detached from the colonial identity rooted in their African roots. The universal basic idea is to "be yourself" and "knowing."
Culture and Rastafarian precepts tend to crystallize into a new organized religion, which would be the largest born in the twentieth century. For many Rastas [Who?], This trend is a drift.
Rastafarian beliefs and culture

Rasta culture is a whole formed by the aggregation of a number of beliefs, customs and traditions. It is thus futile to propose a comprehensive and universal characterization of the Rasta culture. It is instead based on the difference and claims to be a unity in diversity. [Precision needed]


A Rastafarian with dreadlocks

Dread Locks
However, there are benchmarks that characterize Rasta beliefs, especially the wearing of dreadlocks, ganja consumption, and eating habits, although these features are not adopted by all. Contrary to popular belief, the Reggae is not in itself a hallmark of Rastafarian beliefs, but a vector using the message, according to the concept very common in these ancient cultures: the oral transmission. The genre is closest to the Rastafarian Nyabinghi is more. Finally, much of Rasta culture is directly inspired by the Bible, as the concept of Babylon.




The biblical influence:
Rastas follow the version of the Bible accepted by Anglicans (King James Bible), but some parts are challenging, considering that it was rewritten for the benefit of whites. So they use the Holy Piby, rewritten version of the Bible in the early twentieth century by Robert Aathlyi Rogers, whose aim is to prove that Christ and all the children of Israel are black.

The foundations of the Rasta culture can be found in the Bible. Indeed, a Rastafarian spirituality is claiming its attachment to the foundations of the Bible, Old and New Testaments. Rastas see themselves in the Bible and used it constantly. Thus, it is customary for the first occupation of a Rasta is to raise the reading of a chapter of the Bible, as the saying goes: "A chapter a day Keeps the devil away", ie: a chapter a day keeps the Devil away.


Some passages in the Bible are very important in rasta beliefs. Thus, the second exodus to Babylon, and the first destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem is for the rastas incarnation of their exile from Africa, slaves of the Babylonians were the modern British settlers. This explains the concept of Babylon, which is the metaphor for the operation of Jews by the Babylonians. Then, by extension, the concept will spread to all aspects in the society they reject imported by the colonists, as materialism, money, capitalism, the police ... Again, the limits of the concept is rather vague and can vary from one to another rasta.

Always inspired by the Bible (Jeremiah 51), Rastas often think that Western civilization has lost the core values ​​(nature, respect, love each other ...) in favor of a company based on money, personal success and more and more distant from nature. Thus, in the same way that God had destroyed the city of Babylon who had sinned by excess of pride, Rastas prophesy the downfall of the system ("shitstem") of Babylon.
The texts of the Bible are the foundation of Rastafarian beliefs, such as Rivers of Babylon, Psalm 137.
But they believe that the Bible is only half of their story: "Half the story HAS Never Been Told." The other half lies in the heart of each.


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