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Rastafari Movement
Doctrines |   | The Rastafaris draws their beliefs from the bible which they believe to have been incorrectly translated from the Aramaic and, for that reason, to contain some mistakes. They believe that through experience and intuition they can interpret it correctly and discern its truth.
Central to their belief is the doctrine that black people are descendants of theearly Israelites and that they were exiled because of their transgressions. Their salvation will come, however, through Haile Selassie I., who, they believe, is God and their saviour, the incarnation of Jah -or Jehovah, the reincarnation of Christ, the one who will bring them to the Land of freedom, to Africa.
For them, Africa and, more precisely Ethiopia, is the home of Black people, the placewhere they can be saved. Salvation comes through repatriation. The meaning applied to repatriation varies among the believers. For some it means a physical return to Africa; others, however, think that the return to Africa does not need to be a physical return; most important is to become aware of their African identity, to re-establish their identity undermined by the different kinds of power, andto immediately start changing their reality right where they are.
Although they believe in reincarnation they are not concerned with the after life, as salvation happens here in their search for their home, in the search for Africa which is for them associated with heaven, while Babylon (that is the place of the white man, the white society) is associated with hell.
To be a rasta is to live inaccordance with the laws of nature, in other words is to live in an African way.
In their diet they avoid meat, and above all, pork, alcohol, and food of unknown sources.
There is no obligation to attend rituals. They have, however collective reasoning sessions called nyahbinghi. In these sessions they reflect on the bible and on their history, as well as on the nature of God, destiny, and amongother things the meaning of life.
In order to achieve discernment in these sessions, some of them make use of the ganja (marijuana). There are no strict rules concerning the use of ganja. However, according Rastafarians, the overuse of it might turn into an end in itself, which would be contrary to the aim of the group. So it should be used only in certain occasions.
Family life is veryimportant and though marriage may not be formalized in the western Christian way, it is taken very seriously. Women, however, seem to have a lesser role in the movement as a whole. The family structure is a patriarchal one and therefore woman is subordinated to man, though she might, often, be the earner of the house. Abortion and contraception are forbidden.
For them it is important not just tobelieve in God, but to know God. To be a rasta is to live a process from believing to knowing, from knowing to experiencing. The importance of experience can be clearly perceived in their language, used as a tool of individual and group identity and awareness. An example of this can be seen in their use of the pronoun "I" that many times replace "me", or "you" or even radicals in words. so they may say"I and I" meaning "we". This reminds them of the awareness of oneself, of the awareness of being God. |
History |   | In 1517 Jamaica started importing African slaves. Unhappy with their condition, many slaves escaped and began revolting against their white master. Even after the abolition of slavery many black people remained unhappy with the miserable condition of their life, and nourisheda desire to go back to Africa. This desire started to take shape with movements concerned with the condition of black people. Marcus Garvey, considered a prophet by the rastas, had already formed in 1916 the UNIA (Universal Negroe Improvement Association). In 1929 he prophesied that redemption would come when a black king , descending from the lineage of David, would be crowned. This prophecy...