Edward T. Pettiford
Rastafarianism is a religion that was created in the early 1900 hundreds due to the social and poor economic conditions of the Black people in Jamaica. The Rastafarian religious and political movement has come under great scrutiny by society because of it's beliefs and traditions. They have been referred to as a violent cult not only in Jamaica, but also in America and Canada, where many of the members and affiliates have migrated. In my opinion these myths are not accurate, and I believe this religion is no different than any other religion of today.
The followers of Rastafarianism believe that Haile Selassie the former Emperor of Ethiopia, is the Black Messiah who appeared in the flesh for the redemption of all Blacks exiled in the world of white oppressors. The movement views Ethiopia as the Promised Land. The group has no individual leadership. Most of the members are men from thirty-five to fifty-five years of age. The older members are either ex-Graveyites or sympathizers of his movement. Women play an important role in the Rastafarianism today, but the majority are followers of their husbands. In 1965 the membership was essentially lower class, but this is no longer the case. The Rastafarians were once considered "products of the slum," but Rastafarians now can be found among the middle class. They are found among the elite, some are students at prestigious University of the West Indies; some are in the medical and legal professions and other upper-class occupations.
The Rastafarians have their roots in the teachings of Jamaican Black nationalist Marcus Garvey, who in the 1930's preached a message of Black self-empowerment and initiated the "Back to Africa" movement. This movement called for all Blacks to return to their ancestral home, specifically Ethiopia. Marcus Garvey taught self-reliance in Jamaica where he was born, as well as abroad and preached a "back to Africa movement" consciousness.... [continues]
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