The foundations and beliefs of the Rastafarian culture.
Since the mid seventies a reggae artist by the name of Bob Marley has introduced the sound of Reggae music to the western world. Accompanying his music was his long uncut braid-like hair (dreadlocks) and the strong scent of burning ganja (marijuana) which is an integral part of the full picture of Rastafarianism.
Many people are of the impression that there is little more to Rastafarianism than smoking weed and growing your hair into tangled locks. This however is not the case.
Interestingly enough, the Rastafarian religion draws its central belief system from the Christian bible. They believe that the bible has been incorrectly translated from its Aramaic roots and therefore contains mistakes. A Rasta believes that one can use experience and intuition to discern the truth and interpret the words in the bible correctly.
The belief System
At the core of the Rastafarian belief system is the doctrine that black people are the descendants of the early Israelites and were exiled because of their transgressions against God. Their salvation will come through Haile Selassie I (the last crowned black Emperor of Ethiopia) who, they believe, is God and their savior, the incarnation of Jah -or Jehovah. Haile Selassie I is seen as 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 all Black people, the place where they can be saved. This salvation comes through repatriation. The meaning applied to repatriation varies among those who are 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, and to immediately start changing their reality right where they are now.
Although they believe in reincarnation they are not overly 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 man’s society) is associated with hell.
Dreadlocks and Identity
Growing one’s hair into dreadlocks is also a belief that stems from the bible. The dread locks are one of the ways Rastafarians use to emphasize their identity. It is related to the lions and inspired in the bible. Cutting one’s locks is strictly prohibited in the Rasta culture hence some Rastafarians have hair that is past their waist. To be a Rasta is to live in accordance 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.