How did Rastafarianism begin?
Rastafarianism is a very new religion. It began in 1930 in Jamaica. Marcus
Garvey, a Jamaican, predicted there would be a black messiah in Africa. As it
turned out Ras Tafari, a prince, became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. As
emperor he was called Haile Selassie but the name Rastafarianism comes from
his name, Ras Tafari. People believed he was the black messiah Marcus Garvey
was talking about.
What do Rastafarians believe?
Rastafarians believe in some of the Bible mixed with some African beliefs and
traditions. Rastas believe that they are one of the twelve tribes of ancient
Israel. They believe that Ethiopia is their promised land. hey hope one day
to return there just as the Israelites returned to the promised land after
being slaves in Egypt and Babylon. Rastas believe that God took human form
first as Christ the messiah then as Ras Tafari, the black messiah.
What is the Rastafarian code for behavior?
Rastas believe in living close to nature. They are vegetarians and ideally,
they grow their own food. They do not believe in smoking cigarettes or
drinking alcohol or coffee. Interestingly enough, however, they do believe in
smoking marijuana or cannabis, since this is to them a natural and beneficial
herb. They smoke it as part of their worship.
Where are Rastafarians today?
Most are in Jamaica but it has spread to other Afro-Caribbean communities in
Europe and the United States. It especially appeals to young African
Americans. The image of the black messiah and the positive message about
being black and seeking freedom are very compelling. Although not a large
group, perhaps 100,000, its influence has spread beyond its followers through
the dress and reggae music of Rastas. Reggae was developed by rastafarians in
Jamaica as an important part of worship. Today you hear it all over the
Why do Rastafarians or Rastas wear dreadlocks?
Rastas wear dreadlocks because they do not believe in cutting or combing
their hair. This comes from a passage in the Bible. It is also the way some
ancient African priests and Israelites wore their hair. Sometimes you see a
green, red and yellow colored hat over a Rasta's hair. These are the colors
of the flag of Ethiopia.