Religious Education School Based Assessment
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Haile Selassie was born Tafari Mekanon in the late 1800’s in the African country Ethiopia. He was crowned king, or “Ras” Tafari in the 1930’s, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Marcus Garvey decades earlier has he proclaimed, “look to the east for the coming of a black king.” Marcus Garvey is looked at in the Rastafarian movement as the biblical Moses since he was not only one of the greatest advocates for black repatriation in the Western World but also since he prophetically introduced and announced the coming of the Messiah. When the early Rasta’s heard of the crowing of King Selassie – they knew that Marcus’s prophecy was fulfilled. Early Rastafarians were not accepted by the Jamaican population at large. They were looked at as dirty and grimy men that lived in the hills and used drugs, mainly Ganja, spoke against the government and believed in Jah Rastafari over Jesus. Many early rastas where persecuted by their Jamaican countrymen for their religious believes. Rastas where also targeted by the police and government officials since they did not follow the with the “clean cut” majority and where known to use ganja.
Early accusations where made against the Rastafarian’s in the 30’s and 40’s as criminals and many robberies, murders, rapes and other crimes where pinned on the early rastas without any proof. Discrimination continued throughout the ensuing decades as families ties where broken when members joined the Rastafarian’s and police where known to kidnap rastas, cut their dreadlocks off and return them to their homes with shaved heads. The Rastas, though, where peace loving, and positive people, who practiced more moral good than many Jamaicans who discriminated against them. Strict Rastafarian’s do not use alcohol, and Jamaica is well known for its spicy rums. Strict Rastafarian’s do not eat red meet either, and Jamaicans are also known for barbecued meets. These rasta men practice a lifestyle that is similar to the biblical tradition of the Nazarenes where they would take abstinence against many of lives pleasures. As the 1950’s approached Jamaica – Rastafarianism was become more and more popular and soon the nyabinghi warrior sounds that were being chanted in the hills of Jamaica by rastas was about to make an entry to the city and Jamaican pop culture and soon the world.
Jamaicans have always had an extreme love for music. Weather it be the rock and roll sounds that came from America or the tribal beats that many of the decedents of the African slaves have kept boiling in their blood, Jamaica united the musical traditions of many cultures. From Rock-steady to Ska came Reggae music. The islands biggest claim to fame. And it was through the Reggae music of Jamaica that the Rastafari movement was to spread its message around the world in the form of a musical prophet the world knows as Robert Nesta Marley. Bob Marley began his musical career before he converted to Rastafarian. But it was through his spiritual transformation that his music took a serious shift and headed to the direction of international stardom and associating Jamaica, a little known island in the Caribbean, as being the birthplace of reggae and the birthplace of Marley.
Marley’s ability to sing and unite harmonious rhythms of voice, beats and instrument has had millions of people wondering if he was indeed sent by Jah to inform the people. Like a messenger from God Marley would sing to his fellow man songs of joy, songs of love, songs of pain, and songs of freedom. And it was through this style and skill that dubbed him the “king of reggae” – a thrown that will never be taken over. Rasta music is roots music. Music that carries the nyabinghi beat of the warrior ancestors from 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 guidance comes from the creator of the universe Jah Rastafari. Jah Live.
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The aim and “why” of Rastafarian faith
We must look to the almighty Jah, thank God who has raised man above all creatures and endowed him with reason and intelligence. We must at all times put our trust and faith in Him and he will not desert us or permit us to destroy ourselves or humanity that He created in His image. We must examine ourselves and look deeply in our souls. We must become something we have never been before. We must become bigger that we have been, greater in spirit, more courageous, and larger in our outlook. As His majesty said, we must overcome our petty prejudices, even if the weight of history is heavy, owing our ultimate dedication or allegiance not to any nation or country, but to our fellow men within the human community and become member of a new race, the true race: the human race. What is Rastafari
Rastafari is a movement of black people who know Africa is the birthplace of mankind, all mankind. It is a twentieth century manifestation of God that enlightened our pathway towards righteousness and is therefore worthy of reverence. Rastafari recognizes Africa as the central origin of religious history, culture, science and technology. Africa, symbolized in the scriptures by Ethiopia (I-thiopia) is an emotional magnet for many Africans, that is calling us home to the continent which our ancestors were taken by force from more than three hundred years ago, during slavery, the black holocaust. That call has never been felt more deeply than by members of the Rastafari faith. Rastafari wants all people, especially black people, to know that we are Africans and to develop a sense of pride and integrity in ourselves, knowing that our heritage is of the noblest of mankind and that we are in fear of no man.
All people, especially Black people, are Africans and Africa is the birthplace of mankind. We must re-culture ourselves so we can have a sense of pride, in the turning from Occidental culture, and taking into ourselves the power of our African culture, which has been hidden from us for so long. As it is written, Africa awaits the creator and Rastafari. See I and I selves as positive warriors in the battle for redemption and reconstruction of our mother continent. See I and I selves as Jah masons, who build and don’t destroy like Babylon do.. To accomplish this, we cannot confront the occident with there armonition to win, our only hope is for us to use the mental power of our African culture to unite ourselves and overwhelm the negative aspects of Occidental culture where ever it impedes our progress and enlightenment. It doesn’t mean that europeans or whites or any color are bad, as we are all Jah creatures, but people shall know that Babylon is going wrong and will deceive them. Creating divisions, ie among races, is the rule of Babylon. So racism has nothing to do with Rastafari. “United we stand, divided we fall”. History and prophecy
The birth of the movement of Rastafari can be officially fixed in Ethiopia during the coronation of the prince Ras Tafari Makonnen (Haile Selassie) on November 2, 1930. This was no ordinary event in Jamaica because a year earlier Marcus Mossiah Garvey had a prophetic vision, seeing a king be crowned in Africa. After the coronation of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I (Power of the Trinity), several individuals searched the Bible for confirmation and found it in the Psalms: “A Prince shall come out of Egypt, and Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hand unto Jah”. The prophecy was fullfilled and these people were the first Rastafarians. Apart from carrying the legal title “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah” that is written in Revelations, Haile Selassie is the 225th descendant of King Salomon, son of David, and the Queen of Sheba.
Many times people have asked what proof does Rastafarians have to point to Haile Selassie as our Savior. Look at Revelations 5 verse 5, Revelations 19 verse 16, Revelations 22 verse 16 and Psalms 87:4, Ezekiel 30, Epistle to Timothy, Revelation 19, 22, Psalms 9,18, 68, 76,and Isaiah 9. When HIM returned from exile, in 1941, further proof was found in Revelations17:14. It is written that “ They shall make war with the lamb, and the lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings and they that are with HIM are called and chosen and faithful”. So the Rastafarians of Jamaica must always be honored and praised as the vanguard of African resistance movement from which we must be entirely and eternally grateful.
The early Rastas come from the worst possible slum which no one could ever imagine were often beaten, harassed, and imprisoned. The movement went through a relatively peaceful time maybe during the 1930’s or 40’s. But in the 1950’s and towards the ’70s the movement faced continuous and increased prosecution and harassment from the middle and upper class of Jamaica society and was regarded as an outcast. They in turn regard the society as Babylon, which is evil. It is the oppressor and not their home, but a place where they were captive,and until they return to Africa there will be no peace.
They were also discriminated against by fellow Jamaicans and constantly arassed by the police and attacked by the media. The movement at this time was also growing in small numbers across the Caribbean, U.S. and especially in England. The Black Power Protest in the U.S.A. in the 1960’s also strengthened the movement. Because of it’s dynamic nature of the movement the belief and the language vary from group to group and from area to area. By the mid1970’s however, the movement took a dramatic turn with the rise of reggae and his most famous representative Bob Marley Nowadays, many people accept Rastafari, but some are afraid to really project it in their own way because of what society teaches. And some of them through struggles allow themselves to become what they are. The Rasta worship and Symbols
Like any spirituality, Rasta has its own traditions and symbols:
Dreadlocks: they have several meanings. First, they are a part of the biblical Nazarene vow, who prohibits to shave and comb the hair. (But it is not the dreadlocks who makes someone a rastaman, and some Rastas don’t wear dreadlocks). The locks, because of their appearance, symbolizes the roots of the man, and his spirituality, the link with Jah. As Marcus Garvey said, “a man without knowing of his past is like a tree without roots”. They can also be seen as a symbol of the Lion, Haile Selassie I.
The Ganja, “healing of the nations’, also known as hemp, cannabis, or marijuana, is used as a holy sacrament by Rastas in many ways. The legend says that the Holy Herb was found growing on the King Solomon’s grave. Use of herb has his source in the Bible: “Thou shalt eat the herb of the field.” (Genesis 3:18), “eat every herb of the land.” (Exodus 10:12), “Better is a dinner of herb where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred there with.” (Proverbs 15:17), “He causeth the grass for the cattle, and herb for the service of man.” (Psalms 104:14) Rastas smoke herb to meditate, symbolizing the burning bush, and for his curative properties (ie asthma). Herb can be eaten or infused. His seeds are very nutrious. Hemp is also used to make clothes, shoes and ropes. Rasta flag: The red, yellow, green are the colors of the Rasta flag. The red symbolizes the blood of black people, the yellow the stolen gold and the green the lost lands of Africa.
The Rasta flag can also be seen during coptic celebration in the motherland Ethiopia. These colors are too on the senegalese flag, from where thousand of slaves were deported, transiting by the Goree island. The star of David: The star of David is the symbol of the linkage between HIM Haile Selassie and David. When HIM make the Solomon seal with his hands, you can see that it looks like the star of david. Also, the Rasta consider themselves like the Israelites in exile in Babylon. The star of David is the symbol of Israel. The Conquering Lion and the Lamb: they both symbolize HIM Haile Selassie according to the Revelations and the opening of the seven seals. They are two faces of a same reality, the Alpha and Omega. We hope you enjoyed reading this introduction to Rastafarian faith. Email us if you have any comment or question. With the blessings of the almighty God, true Rastafari, all will become one. Oneness through the movement. Praise to the most high, Emperor Haile Selassie, Jah Rastafari!