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Rastafarianism and the Impact on the World

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Haile Selassie was born Tafari Mekanon in the late 1800s in the African country Ethiopia. He was crowned king, or “Ras” Tafari in the 1930s, fulfilling Marcus Garvey’s prophecy decades earlier he proclaimed, “look east for a black king to come”.

Marcus Garvey is considered in the Rastafarian movement as the biblical Moses since he was not only one of the greatest advocates of black repatriation in the western world, but also since he prophetically introduced and announced the coming of the Messiah. When the first Rastas heard of King Selassie’s song, they knew Marcus’ prophecy had come true.

Early Rastafarians were not accepted by the Jamaican population as a whole. They were seen as filthy, filthy men who lived in the hills and used drugs, mostly Ganja, spoke out against the government, and believed in Jah Rastafari rather than Jesus. Many early Rastas were persecuted by their fellow Jamaicans for their religious beliefs.

Rastas were also targeted by police and government officials as they did not follow the ‘clean’ majority and were known to use ganja. The first charges were brought against Rastas in the 1930s and 1940s as criminals and numerous robberies, murders, rapes and other crimes were pinned on early Rastas without any evidence. Discrimination continued in the decades that followed, with family ties broken when members joined the Rastas, and the police were known to kidnap Rastas, cut off their dreadlocks, and bring them home with their heads shaved.

The Rastas, however, were peace-loving and positive people, who practiced more moral good than many Jamaicans who discriminated against them. Strict Rastafarians do not use alcohol and Jamaica is well known for its spiced rums. Strict Rastafarians don’t eat red meat either, and Jamaicans are also known for grilling.

These Rasta men practice a lifestyle similar to the biblical tradition of the Nazarenes where they would abstain from many of life’s pleasures. As the 1950s approached Jamaica, Rastafarianism became more and more popular and soon the sounds of Nyabinghi warriors which were sung in the hills of Jamaica by Rastas were about to make their way into the city and the Jamaican pop culture and soon around the world.

Jamaicans have always had an extreme love for music. From the rock and roll sounds that came from America to the tribal rhythms that many descendants of African slaves kept boiling in their blood, Jamaica has united the musical traditions of many cultures. From Rock-steady to Ska came Reggae music. The most famous islands. And it was through the Reggae music of Jamaica that the Rastafari movement was to spread its message across the world in the form of a musical prophet known to the world as Robert Nesta Marley.

Bob Marley began his musical career before converting to Rastafarianism. But it was through his spiritual transformation that his music took a serious turn and headed for international stardom and associating Jamaica, a little-known island in the Caribbean, as the birthplace of reggae and the birthplace of Marley. Marley’s ability to sing and unite harmonious rhythms of voices, beats and instruments has caused millions to wonder if he was indeed sent by Jah to inform the people.

As a messenger of God, Marley sang to his fellow men songs of joy, songs of love, songs of pain and songs of freedom. And it was through this style and skill that he was dubbed the ‘King of Reggae’ – a pitch that will never be repeated.

Rasta music is roots music. Music that carries the Nyabinghi rhythm of the warrior ancestors of Africa. Rasta music is fire music. Music that will ignite your heart and fill your soul with warmth and wonder. Rasta music is Reggae music, and the spiritual direction comes from the creator of the universe Jah Rastafari. Yah live.

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