The Rastafari people are a group of (primarily) men that originated in Jamaica, especially in and around Kingston, who believe in being repatriated to a designated homeland in Africa. Through their reinterpretation of the bible, an ascetic-leaning lifestyle, and heavy influence of previous Revivalist religions and African Myal traditions, they have carved a religion that is worldly, conscientious, and , now, world renouned. Icons such as Bob Marley, spliffs, their red, gold, and green flag, and their memorable accent make these people very interesting to listen to, and definitely assist in disseminating their belief structure throughout the world. In this paper I will briefly discuss their history, both ancient and modern, their belief structures, theological and material, and current and future trends in the movement today.
Being the offspring of a revivalist religious movement in Jamaica in the 1930's, there is the obvious root tracing of the slave owner's Christian religion and the traditional African religion the slaves took with them from their homeland.
In this case it is the Myal religion. They placed a large focus on the divination and local spirits in this religion and it carried over in the African religious interpretation of the imposed bible. The Christian focus was always on Jesus, while the Myal influence made the African slaves more focused on the Holy Spirit. They even placed John the Baptist over Jesus because it was John who brought Jesus to spiritual maturity through his baptism. Likewise this placed the focus of Christianity not on the orthodoxy, or knowledge of the religion, but the orthopraxy, the actual feeling and experience of the religion.
Following a period of nearly 50 years of post-slavery Revivalism, particularly Zion and Pukumina, efforts in Jamaica, some of the adherents were growing tired of the obeah, or the carried over mysticism.