Jamaica is famed throughout the world for its Rastafarian
religion, which has several unique practices. They believe
that Haile Salassie, the former leader of Ethiopia,
is their leader. They are generally free spirited, and believe
in the spiritual use of marijuana or ganja.
Rastafarians also claim that white Christian preachers and
missionaries have perverted the scriptures to conceal the
fact that Adam and Jesus were black, and their rituals include
the chanting of revivalist hymns.
Rastafari was the pre-coronation name of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Ras is a term equivalent to duke or lord, and Tafari was the
family name of Emperor Selassie. Hailes Selassie claimed to
be a direct descendant of King David, and as time went
on, his followers, the Rastafarians, regarded him as a manifestation
The Rastafari movement grew out of the darkest depression
that the descendants of African slaves in Jamaica had ever
lived in - and out of this arose the Philosophy of the Rastafari
faith, chanting the cry:
'Freedom of Spirit, Freedom from Slavery, Freedom of Africa'
The death of Haile Selassie in 1974 shook the Rasta world.
Some were shaken in their beliefs, while many others, especially
the elderly refused to believe his death at all and insisted
it was a white media conspiracy.
However, the Rasta culture has grown stronger in the years
since Selassie's death. A major proponent of Rastafarianism
in the sixties and seventies was singer and songwriter Bob
Marley. In 1967, Marley joined the Rastafari, which change
became a dominant theme in his music. Contemporary reggae
draws from Rastafarian ritual drumming, chanting and mysticism,
thus slowing the tempo and giving a stronger emphasis to the
music's social, political and humanistic messages.
The most controversial aspect of Rastafarianism is probably
the fact that believers smoke ganja for religious purposes.
The herb that they smoke is an Indian strain of hemp,
as opposed to the Mexican variety that is familiar in the
United States. Some Rastafarians can be recognised by the
long dreadlocks they sport. These dreadlock represent
the Lion of Judah, or Rastafarian manhood. They also
speak their own varient of English.
The average Rastafarian eats a diet of I-tal food.
I-tal food is natural food that has not been preserved or
chemically altered in any way, similar to organics foods in
the west. Most Rastafarians are vegetarians, though they do
eat fish. Even those who do eat meat never touch pork. Alcohol
is forbidden, and coffee and salt are strongly discouraged.
A diet of vegetables, fruit and seeds is considered one that
will keep impurities out of the body and ward off sickness.
Many myths and false information is projected in the west
as to the beliefs and personalities of Rastafarians. Some
believe them to be a corrupt people who smoke pop, listen
to reggae and et involved in crime. Nothing could be further
from the truth, Rastafarians are peace loving, dedicated true