Who Are The Rastafari?

Disciple of the Rastafari movement in Barbados.
Disciple of the Rastafari movement in Barbados.

Who Are The Rastafari?

Rastafari is a religion which established in the 1930's in Jamaica after the coronation of Haile Selassie I as the Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. Followers of the Rastafari religion worship Haile Selassie in the same way Christians worship Jesus and acknowledge him as the Son of God. Members of the Rastafari religion are also known as Rastafari, Rastas, Ras or Rastafarians. However, they find the term Rastafarians or Rastafarianism to be offensive.

Entomology Of The Word Rastafari

The term Rastafari is from the word Ras which is an Amharic word meaning head and Tafari which was the first name of Emperor Haile Selassie I before he was coroneted. The name Ras is a title synonymous to chief or prince in Ethiopia while Täfäri means one who is adored or worshiped. Most followers of the Rastafari religion regard Haile Selassie I as Jah Rastafari an embodiment of God the Father and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

History Of The Rastafari Church

Many components of the Rastafari religion trace their origin to Jamaica together with the Ethiopian culture. Christianity in Ethiopia traces its ancestry to the Church of Alexandria which was established by St Mark. Some Christianity elements are in Rastafari beliefs, such as the existence of the Holy Trinity and supreme God who sent his sacred incarnate son in the form Yeshua (Jesus) to world. They also believe that God is manifested in the divine person of Haile Selassie I. Although the Rastafarian acceptance the Bible they believe the message has been manipulated and polluted.

The growth of Rastafari and its awareness internationally grew in the 1970's due to reggae which gained popularity as a genre of music. Bob Marley was the focal point of the recognition of reggae music since his success as a songwriter and singer were known worldwide. Around 1997 the estimated number of Rastafari worldwide was about one million. In the 2000's around 5% of the Jamaican population comprised of Rastafari accounting for about 100,000 individuals.

The Rastafari Way Of Life

Rastafari combine their religious use of cannabis with high moral values that do not conform to societal pressures such as sensual pleasures, oppression, and materialism (also referred to as Babylon). Rastafari acclaims Zion which they believe to be Ethiopia which is the ancestral place where humanity was first born and also the Promised Land and Heaven on Earth.

Some Rastafari do not ascribe to any denomination or religious sect thus advocating for one to find faith and motivation to live a righteous life within themselves. Other Rastafari such as the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Nyahbhingi, and Bobo Shanti firmly believe in the Mansions of Rastafari while some accommodate some Pan-African and Afrocentric social and political ambitions.

Rastafarian Ceremonies

The Rastafari have two main religious ceremonies which are which include a simple gathering where Rastafari come together to smoke Marijuana and have their discussions. The person who lights the first marijuana stick or herb is required to say a short sentence, and then the herb is puffed and passed along to the next person going around in a clockwise manner. If there is a war, the herb is passed anticlockwise. This ceremony is symbolized as talking to God who is referred to as Jah. Groundation is the second ceremony also known as binghi which is derived from the word Nyabinghi which means black and victorious. Binghi is a holy day that is marked with feasting, smoking marijuana, dancing, and singing which can last for a few days.


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