The True Meaning of a Religion

Topics: Rastafari movement, Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, Religion Pages: 5 (1675 words) Published: November 27, 2006
The true meaning of a religion

Religion can be found almost everywhere around us, influencing ones lifestyle and surroundings much more than we are aware of. Often becoming a huge element of society in several areas of our lives. Though some argue one is born already knowing their religious faith, classifying religion as something that cannot be learned but more as an inner spirituality present at birth. Other would say there is no doubt religion is socially constructed and subconsciously learned plus spread through peers, family or close ones, strongly impacting societies and cultures. Some sort of hidden objective or purpose whether is it political, spiritual or other, motivates the creation of a religion through a "designated" individual, claimed to be here to spread the word, send a message to members of society and make changes or corrections in the name of faith. Often, we witness activists or political figures use religion to emphasize and point out the spiritual aspect behind their messages or motivations to attract followers. Every so often new faiths emerge, giving people hope and spiritual strength to fight for their happiness in times of despair and oppression, the Rastafarian Religion being a perfect reflection of that. An unusual and still barely recognized religion surfacing in hope for a better life, giving them the power to rebel against their oppressors and enforcing a stronger sense of community and understanding between each others.

Centuries ago Africans were kidnapped from their native home and enslaved by Europeans. Many were taken from Ethiopia and brought to the Western world. In the process the Europeans introduced them to the Bible in effort to "civilize" them. Slaves were not allowed to read, but when few started to learn how to read they interpreted the bible in their own way. P Napti a Rastafarian himself wrote: "The Bible described a land to our forefathers that resembled the land of their fathers, and the Bible customs, names and stories sounded all too familiar." (Napti). Much is mentioned about Ethiopia in the bible and as more slaves started to read about it soon concluded that their homeland was part of the Garden of Aden, "cradle of mankind". (Napti). These revelations about Ethiopia came at a time when majority of African people, inside and outside of Africa were ruled by white supremacy. Ethiopia one of the few places still not dominated by white power became for all the Africans living in despair and oppression, a place of freedom and of pride in their heritage. Soon after, hope emerged among the black population, especially in Jamaica, where they lived in despair and poverty, oppressed by white ruling as well. During the 19th century, when many Africans learn to write and read English, some grew to be quite known and respected, in particular Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born scholar. He was seen as a prophet among the people living in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica. During this time, the Rastafarian religion was not quite established yet; however "his travels, organizational abilities and pioneering efforts established a basis and a spirit for a foundation for Rastafari's development" (Dubb). He wanted to unify Africa in order to create a government ruled by the black people. Garvin's vision was for "blacks to overcome their feelings of inferiority and build upon their own unique and evolving culture, ultimately returning to Africa, to redeem their homeland and build a future" (Dubb). Soon Africa, Ethiopia specifically, would be considered the heaven on hearth for Africans. The reason for Garvin being such an influence was mainly due to his vision of the crowning of a black King in Africa setting free the blacks from the white oppressors. So when Tafari Makonnem, a black man, was crowned the Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia; followers of Marcus Garvin's philosophy took it as a biblical interpretation and accepted him as Jah, "the Rastafari name for God incarnate, from a...
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