What Is Ras Tafari

What Is Ras Tafari

5 himhaileselassie



During the 1930’s when Ras Tafari Makennon was crowned His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, many followers of Marcus Garvey, in Jamaica, under the influence of his “Back to Africa” ideology saw Haile Selassie as a divine emanation.  His official titles, “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Root of David, Elect of God,” are believed to be the titles of the returned Messiah in the Book of Revelation. As Bob Marley sang, “read it in revelation/there/you’ll find your redemption/give us the teachings of His Majesty/we nuh want nuh devil philosophy”. Many felt that Selassie was indeed God incarnate. Accordingly, to many elder Rastafarians, Haile Selassie is “Christ in His Kingly Character” he is also called upon by many of the “faith” as “His Majesty,” “Jah, Rastafari” or “Jah, Jah.”

Rastafarians follow the Nazarene belief of strict adherence to dietary laws that forbid the consumption of “flesh” most are vegetarians. Some will eat certain types of fish, like snapper, but others stay away from shell fish, like shrimp, crabs or lobsters, these are seen as scavengers. Rastas place a high value a healthy spiritual self. Abstinence from material wealth and influence is encouraged. As the group Morgan Heritage says, “you don’t haffi dread fi be rasta” so it is, many people who embrace Rastafari, do not wear locks and the converse is true, many people who wear locks are simple not Rastas. It is a way of life, a manifestation of who you are and how you live.  “Rastaman live up/Bingyman no give up”said Bob Marley. Though many claim that “Rasta is an inborn concept” there are those who believe that you can “become” a Rasta. They encourage the daily reading of the bible to build strong spiritual awareness and regular communing with “brethrens and sistrens” to “reason” about the teachings. Part of the ritual and rites at these “reasonings” might be the burning of the chalice. Marijuana is seen as a “holy herb” and smoking it, brings them closer to God. But not all Rastas smoke marijuana.

Like any other group, Rastas are not monolithic. There are different sects, Twelve Tribes of Israel is probably the most widely known. There is House of David, of whom the Prophet Capleton is associated. Bobos who wear their head wrapped in a turban and the Nyabinghi order, who all abide by a very strict orthodox code. There is also the Ethiopian World Federation and the Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church of North and South America. Rastas are hard working men and women who have a strong sense of African pride.

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