|Posted on April 17, 2012 at 1:15 AM|
The Rastafari movement, made famous reggae stars like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, is a religious and cultural movement based largely in Jamaica. They hold the Emperor Haile Selassi I of Ethiopia as the earthly embodiment of God, and Africa, particularly Ethiopia, as the Promised Land, or Zion. As such, one goal of the Rastafari movement is repatriation to Africa. Rastafarianism is often not considered a religion by its followers as it lacks a dogmatic structure. Rather, it is seen as an ideology.
The number of Rastas in the world is not well known, but estimated to be anywhere from 200,000 to a million, mostly in Jamaica, but also in West Indian communities in the United States and Britain.
Rastafari arose in Jamaica during the 1930s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie I in 1930. During that decade, Jamaicans like Leonard Howell and Archibald Dunkley came to Jamaica from Africa and America and began preaching about the divinity of Haile Selassie. Howell is widely considered the first Rasta, having been arrested by the British colonial government for sedition as a result of his writings proclaiming loyalty to Ethiopia over the British crown. The Rastafari movement was revitalized in the 1960s by two events: the independence of Jamaica in 1962, and the visit of Haile Selassie to the island in 1966, which legitimized the movement in the eyes of the world.
Beliefs and Practices
A core belief of Rastafari is the duality of the humanity of man and the divinity of God, in the form of Haile Selassie. However, God is also present in every person, creating a oneness, expressed in the phrase “I and I.” Historically, Rasta believed in the supremacy of people of African descent and the holiness of Africa and Ethiopia in particular. However, modern Rastas tend to be less attached to this. Rastas are also committed to the value of life, both human and non-human, which translates into many of their food laws. Rastafari also stresses the conflict with Babylon, which was often read as America or Britain, but can mean any organization or entity that carries out oppression.
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