Introduction, History, Doctrines, Referat, Hausaufgabe, Rastafari Movement
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Rastafari is the name of a religion, founded in Jamaica in the 1930s. It is a mixture of the Jewry and the Christianity with the important difference that Rastas believe, that God came back on earth a third time, after Melchisedech and Jesus, in form of Haile Selassie I. He was the last emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 – 1936, and from 1941 – 1974. The name of the religion [Rastafari] is a modification of Selassie’s birth name, which was Ras Tafari Makonnen.
The R.M. started 1927 in Jamaica with the prophet Marcus Garvey. Garvey promoted the belief that all black people of the world should join in brotherhood and work to decolonise the continent of Africa. In the New York Times he said on August 3, 1920, "[...] If Europe is for Europeans, then Africa is for the black people of the world." Seven years later he made the prophecy "No one knows when the hour of Africa's redemption comes. It is in the wind. […] Look to Africa for the crowning of a king to know that your redemption is near."
But later he disagreed with the conclusion, that Haile Selassie I. was the predicted messiah and so he never identified himself with the Rastafari Movement. For the Rastas, Selassie now was the final return of Jesus Christ, who came back to break the chains of racism, injustice and oppression.
Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned in 1930 to be the Emperor of Ethiopia and he claimed himself Haile Selassi which means “Power of the Trinity”. Ironically, he also was never a Rastafarian himself, and no one is really sure what he ever thought about his following.
In the 1950s, the Rastafarians were viewed by many people in Jamaica as bearded drug addicts, a national eyesore, or as black racists who wanted to rule over the white man. There were a lot of clashes between Rastafarians and the police in which several Rastas were killed and hundreds more were arrested and forced to cut their dreadlocks off.
Haile Selassie visited Jamaica on April 21, 1966, where he met several Rastafarian leaders. The visit caused two important developments in the Rastafarian movement. First, Selassie persuaded the Rastafarian brothers that they "should not try to immigrate to Ethiopia until they had liberated the people of Jamaica." And second, from that day on, April 21st has been celebrated as a special holy day, called "Grounation Day."
On August 27, 1975, Haile Selassie died, and an enormous crisis of the movement followed. With his death came various forms of rationalization from many Rastafarians. The reactions ranged from “his death was a lie” to "his death was unimportant because Haile Selassie was just a personification of God". Also many Rastafarians believed that his death was staged by the media, beacuase they try to bring their faith down. Others saw the death of Selassie as changing nothing, except that their God was no longer physically present.
Anyway, since his death, the Rastafaris have lost their importance as a religious movement. Many of the symbols have lost their religious significance and the influence of the Rasta ideology on Jamaica's youth got clearly reduced.
The traditional Rasta-colours [red, green, and gold], in which all Rastafarian banners and artefacts are painted, have lost their ideological meaning and are now worn by all. Also the dreadlocks are now known as a trendy hairstyle among black and white people in Jamaica and abroad.
The main three doctrines of the Rastafari Movement are:
Babylon: "Babylon" is the Rastafarian term for the white political power structure that has been holding the black race down for centuries. The goal of the Rastafaris is to remind the black people of their heritage and to make them stand up against this Babylon.
I and I: This concept has become the most important theoretical tool in the religion. It is described as an expression to totalize the concept of the oneness of two persons. So God is within all of us and in fact we're one people. So “I and I” means “We”. But we need a head who was Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.
Jah: It is the Rastafarian name for God. The presence of Jah in His children and in the world is the victory over the misery of everyday life. Ethiopia specifically, and Africa in general, is viewed as heaven on Earth. This means, that there is no afterlife or hell as the Christianity believes.
Important Symbols for the Rastafarian Movement are...
Colours: Red, gold, and green. The colour red symbolizes the blood that martyrs have droped in the history of the Rastas. The yellow represents the wealth of the homeland and green represents the beauty and vegetation of Ethiopia, the Promised Land.
Ganja [marijuana]: Although everybody believes it, religious Rastas do not smoke marijuana for fun, and some don’t use it at all. For many Rastas, smoking ganja is a spiritual act that cleans the body and mind, heals the soul, brings pleasure, and brings them closer to Jah.
They are not surprised that it is illegal, because they see it as a powerful substance that opens people's minds to the truth something the Babylon system clearly does not want.
Lion: One of the most popular symbols among the Rastafarians is the lion. The lion represents Haile Selassie I. It also represents the maleness of the movement. In Jamaica, it can be viewed on houses, flags, and at any other place where Rastafarians live. The Rastas stimulate the spirit of the lion in the way how they wear their dreadlocks and how they walk. To the general public, the symbol of the lion represents strength, knowledge, and aggression.
Diet: The true Rastas eat only I-tal food, which derives from the English word vital. This is unique food because it never touches chemicals and is completely natural. The food is cooked, but served in the rawest form possible, without salts, preservatives, or condiments. Respectful Rastafarians, are completely vegetarian. Liquor, milk, coffee, and soft drinks are viewed as unnatural.
Dreadlocks: The dreadlocks on a Rasta's head symbolize the Rasta roots, contrasting the straight, blonde look of the white man. Dreads do not only portray the Rastafarian heritage, because they are supported in the Bible: "They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh" (Leviticus 21:5). The way the Rastas' hair grows has come to represent the symbol of the Lion of Judah.
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