Rastafarianism, is a colorful and vibrant, twentieth century religion. It was solely due to the steady and strong commitment of its followers, the Rastas, which has made it gradually but surely to earn its rightful place among the centuries old established religions, like Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Zealously supporting dreadlocks; intoning “Jamaica Talk”; eating “I-tal”; listening Bob Marley’s “Exodus”; and after dinner smoking the sacramental “ganja”(little weed) through the “chillum”; a typical Rasta holds that the black man, is the direct descendant of the Jews, according to the Kebra Nagast, the lost Bible of the Rastafarians, concerning the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
On November 2, 1930, the coronation of the Ethiopian Emperor (late) Ras Tafari, who took on the title of Haile Selassie 1, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Conquering Lion of Judah, descendant of (Biblical) King Solomon, marked the birth of Rastafarianism. But in actual fact, Rastafarianism, which is a revivalist and messianic religion had its humble origins in the slums of Kingstown, Jamaica__ the Babylon__ literally hell for black people, during the British colonial era.
According to the teachings of Marcus Garvey (the Black Moses) Haile Selassie 1, the “Jah” __one, of the two hundred and twenty fifth incarnations of God on earth__ is the redeemer of the black people, enslaved, oppressed, and tyrannized by five centuries of white colonial rule.
The Rastafarians or properly known as the Rastas believe that Haile Salassie, the Black Messiah, during his life-time and the select chosen one, after his death will lead, the inevitable repatriation of the blacks to the promised land__ Zion__ which to some, is specifically Ethiopia, but to the rest, is the whole of Africa. The repatriation is an event that is must to take place, but how and when is only know by a select few.
Initially, the Rastas, were a poor, tyrannized and oppressed people, as the majority of them hailed from the poor neighborhoods of Jamaica. But now, the time has come when by a guarded estimate every six of the ten Jamaicans is a Rasta. Furthermore, not only the elite in Jamaica have adopted this religion but people from as far away as China and the remotest corners of Europe, have accepted this faith.
The most famous Rastafarian, and the ambassador of Rastafarianism, to the rest of the world, was the great Bob Marley. It was Bob Marley who was responsible for making the dreadlocks famous and fashionable, all around the world.
In addition, his reggae music, the number one export of Jamaica, through the mediums of radio and television made Rastafarianism, a household name. It would not be wrong to stress that due to the presence of Bob Marley, within a short span of thirty years, Rastafarian culture and civilization, with its inherent message of love for all, conquered the whole world.
From their humble beginnings in the shape of Pinnacle, the first Rastafarian commune in the outskirts of Kingstown, housing a handful of families, today there are about one hundred thousand Rastafarians in Jamaica alone, though the exact number is estimated to be much higher.
Written By: Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada.