The Rastafari Movement

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John Miller Professor Kimball
Music of the World’s Peoples Term Paper
For many years, Jamaica was a place plagued with social unrest. The streets were filled with riots and revolution in the attempt to end slavery. The extensive efforts of the Jamaican people to put a halt to slavery and create social change eventually turned into an organized effort called the Rastafari Movement. This movement arose in the 1930s when Jamaica was predominately Christian. The movement put forth a powerful message of equality, but needed a way to relay this message to the world. With this need, a very unique and special form of music, reggae, came to be.

Being that 98% of the populations in Jamaica were descendants of African slaves, the movement appealed to the great majority of the people. It sought to spread the message of Haile Selassie I, the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, that all men and women were created equal and deserved equal and just rights. Selassie once said "He [the Almighty] taught us that all human beings are equal regardless of sex, national origin and tribe,” in an interview with Dr. Oswald Hoffman. The adherents to the movement, or Rastas, are firm believers in this message. For example, a common misconception about the Rastas is that you must be black to be a part of the Rastafari, but this is not the case. All races and sexes are welcome to join the movement, for in the eyes of the Rastas, we are all children of Jah, the singular God of the Rastafari. Rastas believe Haile Selassie is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and worship him as such. Members of the movement deny that it is a religion – they feel it is more than that. They think of it as a way of life rather than an organized religion. Many of them do not claim a sect in the movement and encourage each other to look within themselves to find faith.

The Rastafari Movement includes themes such as the rejection of Western culture and society. They feel that the...
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