Yesterday while flipping through some music channels, I stopped for a while on VH1 who were playing an ad for a show about Bob Marley they were going to put on. The ad talked about how Bob Marley was one of the strongest promoters for the Rastafarian religion…etc.
But wait, I never knew that there was such a thing as a Rastafarian faith.
Of course, I’ve heard a lot of reggae songs over the years and have heard a load of the words: rasta, rastaman, jah, rastafari, babylon …etc. But never did it occur to me that there was a religion behind all that.
So today, I hit the net for some research and thought I’d share with you my interesting findings.
Rastafari, as a word, originated from the title Ras Tafari that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia used during his time as tenure Regent and Crown Prince (1916-1928).
Meanwhile the Rastafarian (a.k.a Rastafari) religion developed in the 1930s in Jamaica under the influence of Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s “Back to Africa” movement, a movement encouraging people of African ancestry to return to their ancestral homeland.
In this religion Haile Selassie is seen as God, the Black messiah who will lead the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora to freedom.
This belief is based on the fact that his official titles of King of kings, Lord of lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah and with the Root of David, are to be found as the titles of the returned Messiah in the New Testament book of Revelations. Their belief in the incarnate divinity of Selassie began very shortly after his crowning.
The Rasta dream is that Haile Selassie will call the day of judgement, when the righteous shall return home to Mount Zion in Africa to live forever in peace, love and harmony.
Haile Selassie was never a member of the Rastafarian faith, though he refused to condemn it, as he did not want to disturb the faith of the Rastas. The Rastas were never worried by Selassie never claiming to be God, saying that the real God would never claim to be so just to get worldly aclaim and power.
As for the word Jah, it is the name commonly used for God in the religious movement of Rastafarianism, therefore Haile Selassie was the personification of Jah.
Babylon is an important Rastafarian term, referring to the white patriarchy that has been oppressing the black race for centuries through economic and physical slavery. Rastafarianism is defiance of Babylon, which is sometimes also called Rome.
[Researched on: Wikipedia]