The Rastafari Movement

The Rastafari movement was born in Jamaica in the 1930’s, derived from Ras (head or chief) Tafari, the name of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I before his coronation, who played an important role in the development of pan-africanism and is considered as a Messiah by the movement. Inspired by the works of Marcus Garvey, Rastafarianism highly embraces pan-africanism. It is based on Christian, Jewish and mystic beliefs, being a religion that believes in a single God, Jah. The movement believes that African descendants living in the Americas are exiled in “Babylon”, the Western system and culture that opposes Jah. This latter, is putting them on a test, submitting them to slavery, racial inequalities, social injustice and “downpression” (meaning oppression that pulls you down). The movement claims that one day all the descendants of African people will set free and return to Zion, kingdom of Jah, which can mean either Ethiopia or Africa. The movement has its own
interpretation of the Biblical scriptures. Furthermore, it created its own language “lyaric”, since most of the dialects who had come from Africa had been lost when they got to Jamaica and English was the language of the colonizers. It is a way of life, that includes wearing “dreadlocks”, which is a way to be connected to Jah and to defy Babylon, to wearing red, green, gold and black, that symbolize the colors of Africa, or eating “I-tal”, which is vegetarian food. The use of “ganja” (marijuana) or drums is common in their religious ceremonies, in order to have a better link to Jah. The Reggae music that emerged in the 1960’s was highly influenced by this Rastafari movement. You can read more about the history of this interesting movement here!

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