“This anthology explores Rastafari religion, culture, and politics in Jamaica and other parts of the African Diaspora. An Afro-Caribbean religious and cultural movement that sprang from the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1930s, today Rastafari has close to one million adherents. The basic message of Rastafari -- the dismantling of all oppressive institutions and the liberation of humankind -- even has strong appeal to non-believers who are captivated by reggae music, the lyrics, and the “immortal spirit” of its enormously popular practitioner, Bob Marley.
Probing into Rastafari's still-evolving belief system, political goals, and cultural expression, the contributors to this volume emphasize the importance of African history and the Caribbean context. Long before the term “Afrocentricity” came into popular use in the United States, Jamaican Rastafarians had embraced the concept as the most important recipe for naming their reality and reclaiming their black heritage in the African Diaspora.” … (From the Introduction: The Rastafarian Phenomenon
The Rastafarian movement had largely been a Jamaican phenomenon from its inception in the 1930s until the 1960s, when immigrants from the Caribbean migrated internationally. This collection of essays attempts to define in populist manner Rastafari; its beginnings, successes, and failures; its belief system; and its religious, economic, cultural, psychological, and social connotations. With no formal structure, Rastafari is an evolving belief system based on the principles of Leonard Howell's The Promised Key
. Its message of Afrocentricity is important, but the resistance and liberation psychology, along with reggae music, all give meaning to people's lives. The “Downpression” of Jamaican society reflects a Babylonian experience of the black's soulful desolation. From the life-affirming practices of Rastafari, selfhood and dignity is reclaimed. Bible study, fasting, and living with the earth were early components; later the African tradition of ganja-smoking was used in rituals to commune on a higher
plane:Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader