The Extreme Ethiopian Rasta Vs. The Mellow Dallas Rasta
Many people throughout the world have a hard time understanding what it means to be a Rasta. For some their troubles in understanding Rasta's come because they look as Rastafari as only a religion. When one does this they run into many problems. This is because Rastafari is much more than a religion. It is a way of life, a social movement, as well as a mind set. Another reason why western people have a hard time understanding Rastafari is because the movement lacks the structure that the western world is use to. A lot of people's understanding of Rasta's only goes as far as to think that Rasta's are people that live in Jamaica, smoke weed, and have Dreadlocks. These people do not begin to think what is behind the movement. The idea that Rastafari is strictly Jamaican is also very wrong. Since the origination of Rastafari, the Rasta movement has expanded far beyond the island of Jamaica. Rasta's now live all over the world. There are Rasta cultures in all parts of Europe, Asia, New Zealand, United States, and especially Africa. This paper seeks to explain Rastafari and to show it's expansion by exposing Rasta's culture from it's most holy form in Ethiopia to one of it's least holy in Dallas Texas. The Development of Rastafari
The Rastafari movement stems from the teachings of the great Jamaican leader and motivator of masses, Maces Garvey. Garvey told the African people of the world to unite and to return to African, the homeland. Garvey's 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)
Garvey's vision and ability to unite people made the Jamaican people enlightened to what was going on in the world. Garvey created the U.N.I.A. and the Negro World newspaper, which helped to inform the Jamaicans of what was going on in the African world. Garvey told his followers, "Look towards Africa for the crowning of a black king - he shall be the redeemer". Garvey often used many biblical terms in his teaching 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. An event that would happen in 1930 would be as important to a Rasta's as the birth of Christ is to a Christian.
In 1930 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 some 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 claming 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, any one who has dreads, smokes ganja, and plays...