Rastafarianism: Beleifs and Way of Life

Essay by ganjakidHigh School, 12th gradeA, April 2002

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Rastafarianism is one of the worlds newest religions. It began with the oppression of black people. They began to identify with the Jewish people, who also have a history of being oppressed. More radical groups became anti-Semitic, claiming to be the "Real Jews", and claiming that the Bible's stories had been distorted by white people, to oppress the black race. The religion began to take form when Marcus Garvey, known mostly for work in making blacks equal to whites economically and politically, predicted that a mighty king would arise in Africa, and bring justice to the oppressed (1). Some people began calling Garvey a divinely anointed prophet, others dismissed his prediction. While Garvey was still alive, Haile Selassie, aka Prince (Ras) Tafari of Ethiopia was crowned Emperor of World Wide Fanfare, and many Jamaicans claimed the prophecy had been fulfilled, and so the Ras Tafari movement was born.

From 1930 to the mid 1960's, Rastafarianism was a local religion in Jamaica, led by independent "Elders", and it had no official doctrines. But the basic mysticism was that through union with Jah (God), the dread (God fearer) becomes who he truly is, expressed in the pronoun "I&I" (2). Rastafarianism is blend of other religions, but the concepts of Heaven, the Messiah, and Worship have been adjusted to fit the hopes and goals of the oppressed black people.

The Rastas believe that Heaven is attained on Earth. Heaven is Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a country in eastern Africa where Haile Selassie ruled, and was the only African country to not be colonized by Europeans. Rastas do not believe in the Hell, or the afterlife as Christians do, but rather that a true Rasta will live forever. Returning to Africa was the hope of most slaves, so it is only logical that...