It’s difficult to talk about Jamaica’s traditions, people and way of life without acknowledging the significance of the Rastafari movement in shaping their culture. The Rastafarian movement gained momentum during Haile Selassie’s visit to Jamaica in 1966.
Haile Selassie, born Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael in 1892, was crowned emperor in 1930 but exiled during World War II after leading the resistance to the Italian invasion. He was reinstated in 1941 and sought to modernize the country over the next few decades through social, economic and educational reforms. He ruled until 1974, when famine, unemployment and political opposition forced him from office. During his visit in 1966 Bob Marley’s wife, Rita Marley, saw a stigmata on his hand when he was waving to the crowds. From this time forward, Selassie was taken as the second coming for Rastafari.
Like most quasi religions and ways of life, there’s a range of customs that are adhered to; ranging from ascetic to more indulgent. Traditional Rastafarians consume an ‘ital’ diet that is devoid of salt and exclusively vegetarian. Some may only cook if it includes coconut and and others diet’s are completely raw. Many of these Rastafarians only consume cannabis as smoking it is viewed as a spiritual ritual to commune with Jah or the Rastafari deity.
As much a lifestyle as it is a movement, Rastafari espouses truth, love and goodness over corruption and evil. Today, many Rastafarians wear their hair in Rastas, called by some dreadlocks, however this is really a misnomer. Rastafarian culture is perpetuated by modern musical artists and its general popularity amongst mainstream culture. It’s difficult to encapsulate any religion or way of life but the common phrase “One Love” is perhaps the best. To get a taste of it, have the courage to visit the island and stay at an independent resort, hotel or hostel instead an all inclusive “jAmerica.” DISCLAIMER: The author of this article is not a Rasta, or a Jamaican – do you have anything you can add to this article? Clarification and your opinion are appreciated?