Partially political, partially religious movement founded in Jamaica. Between 1907 and 1924, as several essays and books were published in Jamaica linking Jamaicans with Ethiopa of the biblical Psalms (Ethiopianism). The Rastafarian name came from the crowned emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie (originally Ras Tafari). He was proclaimed to be a divine being and a champion of the black people. The movement was also significantly influenced by Marcus Garvey and the Universal Improvement Association.

Original followers of Rastafarianism believe that all people of African origin should be repatriated to Ethiopia. The Rastafarians decoded the Bible, freeing it from distortians crated by Christian colonialists. White, European and American industrial civilization is interepreted as Babylon, the seat of wickedness. It is believed that the collapse of Western civilization will bring about an Eden like earth led by spiritually powerful Rastafarians.

Ideals of Rastafarianism include adherence to nonviolence, no accumulation of personal material wealth, vegetarianism, consuming food unpolluted by industrial chemicals, dressing in clothes made from natural fibers, daily Bible consultations. The growth of hair into dreadlocks embodies these principles by allowing the hair to assume a natural, unprocessed form. An optional part of Rastafarianism is the smoking of marijuana, believed to aid in interpreting decoding the Bible.

Rastafarian Beginnings

Maroons were escaped slaves who survived in the Jamaican hills in communities after running away from British slave colonies from 1655 until around 1800. Maroons faught constantly with the British, and signed several treaties in order to maintain their freedom and autonomy from British rule.
Many consider maroons to be the first Rastafari.

Marcus Garvey was considered by early Rastafari to be a messenger from God. Garvey was born into a Jamaican Maroon family.
In 1907 he began traveling and witnessed firsthand the plight of fellow blacks around the world. 1912 he sent to London, enrolled in college, and studied Afro-Egyptian history. By 1914 Garvey had returned to Jamaica and founded the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Assosiation and the African Communities League, both designed to establish educational and industrial colleges for Jamaican Negroes. These associations were built using Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute as a model. In 1916, Garvey traveled to America and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

Haile Selassie is the centerpiece for the Rastafarian faith. Since there is no official Rastafari church, and Rastafarian beliefs vary widely, Rastafarians are most often described as people who believe that Haile Selassie was divine or of divine nature. Selassie was originally named Ras Tafari, however changed his name to King H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie (H.I.M stands for "His Imperial Majesty) upon being crowned emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. Selassie claimed to be a direct descendent of David. He was the 225th King in a line of Ethiopian kings in unbroken succession from the time of King Solomon.
Selassie was, upon his coronation as Emperor, viewed as a messiah or prophet by many blacks in Jamaica because of a prophesy of Garvey’s that said:
Look to Africa, when a Black King shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is near.
In 1934 using the Garvey-an ideal of migrating back to Africa, many Jamaicans created fake passports (using the a picture of Selassie himself) in order to relocate to Ethiopia.

Leonard Howell was one of the first preachers in Jamaica to accept Selassie as the Living God. By 1934 Howell had gained respect from many other Jamaicans, these people were the first true Rastafari. Later in 1934 Howell was arrested for selling over five thousand bogus passports sporting photographs of Haile Selassie. Upon his releasr from prison in 1941 Leonard Howell purchased an abandoned estate northwest of Kingston and founded “Pinnacle” a Rastafari community of over sixteen hundred.
After many run ins with local police, in 1941 Howell is arrested again during a violent police raid for cultivating marijuana alongside yams on the Pinnacle farms. Returning to from prison once again in 1943 Howell develops a corps of guardsman who grew their hair long and were known as “Ethiopian warriors” or “locksmen”, these were the first Rastafari who wore their hair in dreadlocks as a sign of divine strength.
In 1954 Pinnacle is raided again, and 163 of its members are arrested on marijuana charges, Howell is tried and later acquitted, however, his Pinnacle brethren refuse to re-accept him into the Pinnacle community, so he is forced to relocate to Kingston.
For years, Howell had run Pinnacle as if he were Selassie himself, and was quoted in a Jamaican Newspaper:
I am Haile Selassie, neither you nor the government have any lands here.” In 1960 Howell is confined in a mental hospital.

Rastafari Faith Rastafarianism is based around Christianity; however, has very little in common with any other sects of Christianity.
Rastafari have a strict diet which discludes: meats such as fish, eggs, salt. Sardines, ham, bacon, chicken, cheese, white flour products such as bread, buns, cake, dumplings, gravy. Alcohol is also prohibited along with beverages such as milk, ovaltine, cocoa, coffee, and soda. Rastafarian women are referred to as either “sisters” or “daughters”, regardless of age, appearance, marital status, or blood relation. Women are expected not to smoke (ganja), especially in public, however can often be found smoking in private. Rastafari believe that marijuana is a holy herb and use the “divine-use theory” to justify it’s use. From Genesis 1:11-12
“Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yeilding seed, and the fruit tree yeilding froot after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth, and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yeilding seed after his kind… and it was good.”
In earlier times, Rasta’s grew ganja for themselves, and bring the rest to marked for trade, and since marijuana is also illegal in Jamaica, this makes marijuana a “political herb” rather than the “divine herb” that the Rastafari believe in. Holy Grounation is a yearly festival on April 21, celebrating the visit of Haile Selassie from Jamaica in 1966. Grounation occurs on a large hill named Castle Kelly, outside Kingston. Holy Grounation is an affirmation of life through earth, and is a joyous festival, unlike Easter, which the Rastafari celebrate in a somber manner.

Much of this information I found in a book entitled Rastafari: A Way of Life by Tracy Nichols.
If you have any suggestions about this write up, please either leave a WU or /msg me.

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