The Extreme Ethiopian Rasta Vs. The Mellow Dallas Rasta
Not unlike the widely accepted religion of the Indian people - Hinduism many people all over the world wrestle with what it means to be a Rasta. Of those I’ve spoken with a number seem to have difficulty grasping its true meaning mostly because they look as Rastafari as being merely another religion rather than way of LIFE, a SOCIAL MOVEMENT, as well as a STATE-OF-MIND. Perhaps another reason why some people have a hard time understanding Rastafari is because it lacks the solid structure that most of the world’s religion seems to be based upon.
Some people are under the impression that Rasta’s are people that primarily live in Jamaica, smoke pot, and have Dreadlocks. These are the people that do not have their eyes and perhaps their hearts open and do not think of what is behind the movement. The idea that Rastafari is strictly Jamaican is very wrong. Since its origination of Rastafari, the Rasta movement has expanded far beyond the small island of Jamaica. Rasta’s now proudly live all over the world amongst all cultures in Europe, Asia, New Zealand, United States, and above all Africa.
The Development of Rastafari
The Rastafari movement stems from the teachings of Marcus Garvey he was a great Jamaican leader that motivated masses. His vision was for the “Blacks to overcome their feelings of inferiority and build upon their own unique and evolving culture, and ultimately return to Africa to redeem their homeland and to build a future” (Dubb. Pg2). To this end Garvey told the African people of the world to unite and to return to African, the homeland.
Garvey enlightened the Jamaican people through his vision of what was going on around them in the world. To this end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A) a Black Nationalist fraternal organization and the Negro World newspaper which helped keep the people of Jamaica well informed. When Garvey spoke he would often include biblical terms to free his movement from the oppression of the “White Man”, whether he meant them to be taken literally is unclear, but what is clear is that many Jamaicans took them literally.
In 1930 an important event took place that was to the Rastafari not unlike the birth of Christ is to Christians. A man named Tafari Makonne or Ras Tafari (Ras meaning king) claimed himself Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I as well as the traditional titles “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Conquering Lion of the Tribe Judah. To a number of Jamaican people this meant that Garvey’s prophecy had been fulfilled. These people tuned to the Bible and through literal translation of the documents found much correlation into what had taken place. An important correlation to the Bible is the fact that Selassie claimed to be a direct descendent of King David. By Selassie claiming his relation to David, he had made a coalition to Revelation 5:2-5. To some Jamaicans this meant their Messiah had arrived.
In Jamaica some people such as Leonard P. Howell, J.N. Hibert, and Archibald Dunkle, began to spread the word of the Messiah coming to save the African people. To Dunkle Howell, and Hibert Haile, Selassie became their living god. The people who listened to this soon began to call themselves Rastafarians. To these new Rasta’s, Ethiopia became their Zion, and Haile Selassie their Messiah. The Rastafari religion would continue to follow this trend of interpreting the Bible literally which lead to practices that make the Rastafari religion unique from any other.
What it means to be Rasta
The beliefs of the Rastafarian are often misunderstood. To many, anyone who has dreads, smokes ganja, and plays Reggae music is a Rasta. So based on that logic set; if you wear a button-up shirt and own a bible – then you’re a Christian. There is much more than those three elements to being a Rasta. Rastafari is more...