A brief history of Rastafarianism by BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/rastafari/history/history.shtml
The history of Rastafari begins with the colonisation of Africa, or ‘Ethiopia’ as it is known to believers, by Europeans.
The European powers took many Africans as slaves, and the people of Africa were divided up and sent into exile as captives throughout the world. The areas of captivity became known as ‘Babylon’.
For Africans this exile marked the suppression of their culture by whites. However, Rastafarians believe that the suppression of blacks in Babylon is ending and that soon they will all return to ‘Ethiopia’.
The Rastafari movement began in Jamaica during the 1930s following a prophecy made by Marcus Garvey, a black political leader. Garvey led an organisation known as the Universal Negro Improvement Association, whose intention was to unify blacks with their land of origin.
Garvey preached “Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned, he shall be your Redeemer.” This statement became the foundation of the Rastafari movement.
The prophecy was rapidly followed by the crowning of Emperor Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia. Rastafarians see this as the fulfilment of Garvey’s prophecy. The religion takes its name from Haile Selassie’s original name.
Haile Selassie is therefore regarded by Rastafarians as the Black Messiah, Jah Rastafari. He is a figure of salvation and it’s believed he will redeem blacks from white suppressors, reuniting them with their homeland, Africa.
The first branch of Rastafari is believed to have been established in Jamaica in 1935 by Leonard P. Howell.
Howell preached the divinity of Haile Selassie. He explained that all blacks would gain the superiority over whites that had always been intended for them.
Howell’s action encouraged others to help develop and spread the message of Rasta theology, and as E.E. Cashmore explains:
All, in their own ways, added pieces to the jigsaw, and the whole picture came together in the mid 1950s when a series of congregations of rastas appeared at various departure points on Jamaica’s shores, awaiting ships bound for Africa.
This marked the first uniting of Rastafarians and it paved the way for the future of the movement, bringing hope of repatriation with Africa and freedom for the black race.
1960s and 70s
In 1966 Haile Selassie visited Jamaica, where he was greeted with vast enthusiasm.
The development of Reggae music during this period made Rastafari audible and visible to an international audience. The work of Bob Marley (one of the most important figures in Rastafari) and Island Records was popular with a much wider group than the working class Jamaican culture from which it sprang.
As the rock critics Stephen Davis and Peter Simon said, reggae propelled “the Rasta cosmology into the middle of the planet’s cultural arenas, and suddenly people want to know what all the chanting and praying and obsessive smoking of herb[marijuana] are all about” (Reggae Bloodlines).
Some traditional Rastafarians were disturbed by the popularity of reggae, fearing that the faith would be commercialised or taken up as a cultural fad, rather than a religion.
In 1974 Haile Selassie was deposed by a Marxist revolution. He died mysteriously the next year. The removal of a divine figure by an atheist secular political group was initially discouraging to Rastafarians, and undermined any suggestion that he had been anything more than a human representation of God.
more info about rastafarianism in slavery:
I chose to post about Rastafarianism because it is so commonly misunderstood. It is generally associated with hippies, drugs, and reggae music. The real message and view of the religion is usually lost. For David Judah, it is a very serious religion. His website, http://www.rastafarian.net/, is amazing, and reiterates how important the religion is to Rastafarians. He doesn’t smoke or drink and emphasizes that one doesn’t have to smoke marijuana or drink alcohol to be a Rastafarian. The true message of Rastafarianism is that all blacks are African, and should remember that. The style of putting one’s hair into dreadlocks is mainly because using products, chemicals, and cutting one’s hair are Western practices, something Africans should not follow. However, it is not required, but is just an aspect of the religion.
Another main part of Rastafarianism is gathering to encourage harmony and a laid back view on life. There is no need for the hustle and bustle of life that Americans, Europeans and Asians have made a daily part of their lives. Along with the harmony aspect, Rastafarianism preaches a cultural awareness that is necessary for blacks to understand where they came from, and how their ancestors lived.