Fundamentals Beliefs

Rastafari Woman Virtuous Woman






“Jah standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judges amongst the gods. 
How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. 
Defend the poor and fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and needy. 
Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hands of the wicked. 
They do not know the Almighty Jah Rastafari, neither do they iverstand, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are unstable. 
InI i have said, you are Rasses and all of you are children of the Most High Jah Rastafari. 
But you shall die like men and fall like one of the princes. 
Arise O’ Jah Rastafari; judge the earth, for thou shall inherit all nations .Selah. Psalm 82


‘He who would be a leader must pay the price of self –discipline and moral restraint. This entails the correction and improvement of his personal character, the checking of passions and desires and an exemplary control of one’s bodily needs and desires.’ ‘Q’damawi Haile Selassie.

Among the general code of the Rastafari Code of Conduct is said that InI said that InI should: “Abide by the laws and teachings of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I, the principles and practices of The Elders, Patriarchs and Matriarchs and the laws of Nature written in the hearts of human kind.

In these times of trials and tribulation nothing will come easy; even the righteous will be tempted, even friend will become enemy, even those loyal to the throne room will break ranks for crumbs on the table. What Woe in a Babylon! What a Woe!

It was not expected that in the house of Jah Rastafari there would be a mutiny, or some would prefer the word ‘coup’. Such is the reality that InI now face; when you rise up against your own Constitution or guide lines, it is treason at all levels.

The Nyah Binghi Guidelines clearly state in the section “The Priesthood” which consists of seven administrating Priests including the High Priest that:
“The Priesthood is looked upon for wise decisions and council and is key representative of the Nyah Binghi order. The signature from the priesthood is required on all communication sent out from the house.”
The section Council of Elders states that:
“The Council of Elders consists of elder brethrens of the house who have maintained the livity of Rastafari over a number of years. Their decision is always required and where there are differences of opinion, the Council is called upon to make a ruling. The Council of Elders functions as guardians of the movement and are treated with great respect.
Now concerning the Priest, the Feta Negus states that:
“No one shall think evil of a priest. No one except his superior shall judge him according to the cannon law. As regard such priest, the scribes and the Pharisees and all things thereof, whatsoever they shall do to you or seek to do, observe and move but you shall not do according to their work. A person who judges him, if he live an excellent life, he will exercise care according to the word of our Lord who said: Judge not that you may not be judged—–“

The High Priest Ancient George Ions has made a collective decision within the Priesthood and the Council of Ancients, regarding Sizzla Kalonji:
*   As the safe keeper of the Nyah Binghi stamp and seal until the office building on the Scotts Nyah Binghi grounds is completed;
*   As “President, Theocracy, Reign Order of the Nyah Binghi and the Movement” for the Repatriation black people to Africa;
*   Ancient Bongo Tawney now an ancestor and former chair of the Council of Ancients had appointed Sizzla Kalonji as the treasurer of the Ancient Council.

Is the wise mind of InI Ancients no longer valid? This is a dilemma for many,, while for some it will be a time for reflection. The more vocal among the Rasses are now commanding media attention and will find themselves into a firestorm of words, thus for every action there is a equal and opposite reaction.

Many are now up in arms and saying this and that. All these Rastafari intellects who should have known better have abandoned the 22 resolutions of the Rastafari International theocracy Assembly (RITA). It was agreed then that:
*  The Rastafari International Divine Order of the Nyah Binghi should be the responsible source to provide spiritual guidance regarding Rastafari Religious Foundation and Livitical Authority.
*  The Administration of the Rastafari community should be handled at two distinct levels ; Rastafari International Secretariat and a Rastafari Theocracy Government (functional).

Why do so many who have gained Babylon education, instead of making meaningful itributions to Rastafari sustainable development, prefer to work for Babylon and foolishly try to beat up on the Nyah Binghi priesthood and Council of Ancients? It won’t work in this time. It is your duty to give a strength and not to tear apart. What a judgment!!

Jah Rastafari calls upon the youths because they are strong, technology ready, knowledgeable and resourceful. It is about full time to clear the age hurdle within the Order of the Nyah Binghi. It is discriminatory, and so many willing and able youths are blocked out because of age criteria and inflexible categories to serve at top levels. Yes I hear the Fiyah Bun.

Rastafari youths of ability and good intent should be should be given the opportunity to build capacity with the Ancients and offer their expertise. The youths are aware that they are not Ancients, but to sit among Ancients is very rewarding in this time. Failing to do that, Babylon will surely absorb the youths and weaken the foundation already set by those who have gone before.

The Nyah Binghi Royal Creed of  ‘Let the hungry be fed, the naked clothed, the sick nourished, the infants cared for, and the aged protected’ cannot be fulfilled with mere words. Some will say “It takes cash to care”, therefore InI give thanks for “Word sound power collective” WSPC and their livication to Ancients needs, and to “Iniversal Development of Rastafari” IDOR who have done the same. There are also many individuals outside of these two organizations who have given financial support or otherwise to Ancients over the many years. I salute you all.

Now the Administrative Council of the Theocratic Reign Order of the Nyah Binghi (Jamaica), although not listed within the Nyah Binghi guide lines, was given the secular duties of the Council of Ancients. Over a period of time the relationship with the Administrative and Ancient Council became unstable, due to the lack of transparency in critical areas of administration such as proving financial reports, information on business transactions and Minutes of meetings.

The Administrative Council seems to forget that the Ancients are the custodians of the livity and traditions of the Rastafari movement, thus they as students should be mindful in addition to their modern education.
“We should be aware, more than ever before, not to allow discord amongst us. We must close ranks and discharge our obligation in harmony and unity of vision and purpose.”-Utterance of Q’damawi Haile Selassie.HIM1

In the desperation of those who should have known better, the internal affairs of the Council of Ancients have spilled out on the Jamaican radio waves and cyberspace. A very unpleasant choice of words was used by many edgy people to describe the Ancients and certain individuals. As a result of this the Council of Ancients sat and made their declaration to seal the matter with apology to none.

What is hidden in the dark must come to light; know that all secret plots must be revealed. The Administrative Council had their set agenda. In a plot to overrule the Council of Ancients’ decisions and to force High Priest George Ions and others into early retirement, the Administrative Council called for a vote of no confidence of those accused during the Sunday reasoning of the 82nd Coronation anniversary at the Pitfour Nyah Binghi Center.
It is definitely not constitutional for the Administrative Council to rule on the Priesthood. That is the duty of the seven Ilected Priests and the Council of Ancients, thus they overstepped their authority by doing so.

Concerning the Nyah Binghi Stamp and Seal, it is in the safe keeping of Sizzla Kalonji, the Treasurer of the Ancient Council, until the office building at Scotts Pass is completed. This decision caused a lot of huff and puff to blow the house down, but it did not happen.
As a result of this discord, two choices were presented by the Administrative Council at 2nd November 2012 Binghi at Granville Pit Four, which were: (1) return the Stamp and Seal by any means necessary or (2) replace the Stamp and Seal and declare the new one to the Global Rastafari family. So why, when this mandate was given to the Administrative Council they made a “Press Release” exposing their bitterness and discrediting the Ancient Priest and others among him?  Is that following protocol, when the Administrative Council defies the instructions of those who support them and now continues on their own personal rampage? Can the Council of Ancients now have the Administrative Council in trust to manage their affairs, I now ask?

In all what InI set out to accomplish “We must also remember the reality of today is different from the realities of yesterday .We must understand we cannot turn the clock backwards. In this world of today we must strive to what we set for ourselves to achieve””-Utterance of Q’damawi Haile Selassie.

So touch not the Lord anointed and do his prophets no harm. Many will rise up against the Council of Ancients, but truths and rights will prevail and morality will lead the way.
Thanks giving and blessings

Ras Flako Tafari (Chair, Rastafari Think Tank)

Rastafari Earth Festival – A Celebration of One Love

Rastafari Earth Festival – A Celebration of One Love

Friday, 10 June 2016 01:50Written by  Lisa Leslie
Courtesy of

July 23rd marks the birthday (or what is referred to as the ‘earth day’) of the Rastafarian’s spiritual messiah, His Majesty Haile Selassie I. The annual Earth Festival, which takes place from the 22nd to 30th July 2017, honours this special date on their religious calender and is a joyous and colourful celebration of this fascinating and vibrant Knysna community. It also serves as a platform for these residents to openly share with others the traditions and roots of their faith.

Judah Square is South Africa’s largest Rastafarian community, and is based in a small river valley in the Khayalethu township of Knysna. It was established in 1993 in a stance of solidarity against the suppression of their religious and social belief systems. Before Judah Square was formed, this community was a largely misunderstood and marginalised minority. After negotiations with the Knysna Municipality, they were granted a portion of land on which to settle, which marked the beginning of their positive and collective upliftment. Although there are many Rasta families living within this community, their spiritual union is such that they are in effect one large extended family.

Judah Square is the administrative Rastafarian capital of the Southern Cape and this annual festival draws both members and non-members from across South Africa and abroad. The festival includes 7 days of Nyahbingh (church) services and then 3 days of music, concluding in the Emancipation Celebration, which celebrates the abolition of slavery (Slavery was abolished in Jamaica on August 1st 1834).

The Emancipation Celebration includes a host of musical acts, dancing and the singing of old traditional songs. Members wear traditional dress and many tell stories and recite poems. This is a family day open to the public, and people are encouraged to celebrate their freedom through various forms of expression. Tourists are welcome to bring their cameras and come enjoy and learn what Emancipation Day is all about.

Mark you calender for this year’s Earth Festival, an uplifting celebration of freedom and a visual feast of red, green and gold!

For more information visit:

Nyahbinghi of Culture

Nyahbinghi of Culture

Nyahbinghi was associated with violent values ​​and with revolutionary elements. The Nyah were publicly identified by their long hair, the Dreadlocks, and by the sacred but challenging and antisocial use of marijuana. The Nyahbinghi within the current Ras Tafari I movement is a long term which in addition to its original meaning also covers other important aspects of cultural life, including: 1. The Nyahbinghi order, a section within the Ras Tafari I movement in general, also recognizes the Theocratic Government of Haile Selassie I. The members of the first generation Nyah are part of the formation of the Rasta movement.

2. Rituals of worship and worship are sponsored by members of the community. Nyahbinghis ceremonies are regularly celebrated on various dates throughout the island of Jamaica. Annual celebrations include the birthday of Emperor Haile Selassie I (July 23), the date of the coronation of the Emperor (November 2) and the Emperor’s birthday in Jamaica in 1966 (April 21). The Nyahbinghis also perform “Assemblies” or “Congregations” which are considered to be “divine services.” 

3. Music with drums, dance, and palavars are part of the celebration and worship and are also called Nyahbinghi. As part of a resurrection given African beat, the song Nyahbinghi or Heart Beat is tied to the harps of King David,
Nyahbinghi congregations usually last from three to seven days, time for the community to gather and revitalize the Ras Tafari faith through activities such as playing drums, singing prayers, reading Bible passages, smoking marijuana, and dancing. At the center of the Nyahbinghi celebration is the Tabernacle where the ritual takes place. With the colors of the flag of Ethiopia (green gold and red), the Nyahs call Israel their providential destiny. 
– “Africa yes, Jamaica, no!”, “Jah calls the singers and instrument players”, “Repatriation now!”.
The Nyahbinghi Tabernacle is the circular room of the rainbow throne (represented by the colors of the Ethiopian flag), the sacred power of the ground from which emanates the earthquake, light, thunder, fire and sulfur of Armageddon. The “chalice” (chalice, Rasta pipe) passes from hand to hand and back from the altar, ritualistically activating the symbols of heat, air and water, the primary forces of creation. Through Word, Sound and Power (Word, Sound & iwah) faith is united with the Creative Head (Ras Tafari) in a kind of mystical telepathy, which aims to sing the fall of BABYLON to rid the land of wickedness and restore the natural order of Creation and its original state of perfection.

Published by the
Issembly for Rastafari Iniversal Education (IRIE) June 8, 2001
Winsdom of Rastafari – A Message Before the World Conference Against Racism

RasTafari Grounation and Nyabinghi Ceremonies

RasTafari grounation and nyabinghi ceremonies.
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Ras Tafari Ceremonies
There are two main ones, grounation and nyabinghi.

Nyabinghi is music played in rastas meetings, which include the sound of at least three percussion instruments, singing, dancing, spiritual use of ganja and praise to Jah Rastafari. Percussion instruments have a symbolic value for dreadlocks. They symbolize the origins, and in a certain way, Africa itself (next, an elder plays his percussion instrument). Many consider drums to be Jah’s voice.

For a long time, the dreadlocks danced nyabinghi against specific enemies in order to evoke Jah’s strength to destroy them. The dance is now used to celebrate special dates such as the coronation of His Imperial Majesty (November 2), Selassie’s birthday (July 23), the end of slavery (August 1), and the birthday of Marcus Garvey (August 17).

Every year in August, the dreadlocks commemorate the visit of Haile Selassie I to Jamaica, held on April 25, 1966. The celebrations begin around the 21st, and are called the Grounation Day.

Grounation means “the affirmation of life on earth”. For several days, the dreadlocks gather in camps, where they meditate, use the herb, perform nyabinghi songs and praise Jah. In these meetings, children are left free to go wherever they want. If they need anything, the nearest rasta will serve them and help them with the same love with which they would be treated by their natural parents.
Ganja for the Rastas.

Ganja, marijuana, cannabis is an ancient medicinal herb used by the Rastas, not for fun or pleasure, but for cleansing and purification in controlled rituals. Some Rastas choose not to use it. Many hold their use through Genesis 1:29: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth: and every tree in which there is fruit yielding it shall be to you for food. ”

The “Flaming Goblet” is also a symbol of “Unitarian Universalism.”
They see Canabis as having the ability to allow the user to penetrate into the real truth of how things are with absolute clarity. For this reason is that Rastafari met to smoke Cannabis and discuss the truth with each other, rationalizing everything in us details that last for many sections.

In this way Rastafari believes that Canabis brings its user close to Jah.
The use of Canabis and particularly in large pipes called “Chalices” is an integral part of the cult that the Rastafari calls “Section of Arrangement”.

Rastafari guarantees that Canabis is the “Tree of Life” mentioned in the Bible.

It is not known since when Rastafari first used Canabis as a religious sacrament, but of course since the early forties the Rastafari was known as a cult of the Canabis use of the Leonard Howell Pinacle Community.

Ras Tafari is a pan-African movement with presentations and messianic, which originated in the awakening of a prophetic revelation made by Marcus Garvey in Jamaica. Since its inception in the 1930s, the movement has grown from a small town in West Kingston to an international black repatriation movement.

Throughout the first three decades of its development, the movement was banished from Jamaican society. Periodic confrontations with British colonial authorities marked the Rastas in their revolutionary intentions, both culturally and spiritually. The mid-1960s brought a period of transition in social understanding in relation to Rasta and its way of living.

After the publication in 1960 of the “Report on the Ras Tafari I Movement in Kingston (capital of Jamaica)” conveyed by the local university, subsequent events and a climate of positivism became publicly notorious. This shift in public perception served to legitimize the broad vision of the meaning of Life that the Rastas so much proposed as a cultural responsibility to the legacy of slavery and colonialism in Jamaica.
During this transition period in the 1960s, a large number of discontented and middle-class youths joined the miserable ones who lived in the favelas, and from there formed the mainstay of the Ras Tafari I movement.

This accelerated growth was accompanied by the popularization of Rasta doctrine through mass communication and also artistically. the rhythms of Ska, rocksteady and reggae music disseminated in the 1960s and 1970s the values ​​and feelings of the Dreadlocks (one of the terms used to identify a Rastas) as an alternative appeal after the epoch of post-colonialism.

As a culture / philosophy, Ras Tafari I is a form of Black Zionism that follows the Bible reading (in the Ethiopian version Kebra Negasta – “Glory of the Kings”, different from the European King James version) as the millennial creed of African redemption. Identify themselves as the Old Testament Israelites, Providing a sequence of mythical-poetic interpretations of the History of the Black Diaspora. Captured and sold into slavery by Europeans, the Rastas see Africans and their descendants in the West as living in modern Babylon, the white, oppressive society that has meant more than 400 years of persecution and colonialism.

The unofficial emancipation for slavery in the sugar plantations in Jamaica came in 1834, but Jamaican Jamaican political independence from Britain was secured only in 1962, after 97 years as a colony. About 95% of Jamaica’s population is of African descent, which has led to a consciousness within the Ras Tafari I movement to consider themselves “strangers in a strange land”, referring to Jamaica itself.

In the Rasta language of redemption, the only salvation for the black of the West is to repatriate to their ancestral home: Ethiopia – Africa. While opinions within the movement differ as precisely repatriation will occur and its nature, spiritual or physical, Ras Tafari I recognizes that this will be imminent and will signal the complete reversal of the power structure in force in the world.

Unlike other Pan-African cultural formations ; for example, Santeira in Cuba, Vudu in Haiti, Candomblé in Brazil and Xangô in Trinidad, Ras Tafari I is a phenomenon of the 20th century without a cultural background in the West or an inheritance of Central African culture.
Rasta rituals maintain a continuity in African identity and associated traditions such as example of dance rituals and drums, healing practices and belief in the magical power of words – word, sound & power.

Images of Ethiopian royalty, events and characters from the Old Testament, a ritualistic way of speaking and the use of long hair, called Dread Locks, have been adopted and transformed into Rasta symbols and traditions. In the context of Diaspora, this tradition is best understood as a response to the ideology of the dominant race.

This ethnicity refers to the self – awareness of culture in order to disseminate a new message, along with its symbology and religiosity. Ethiopianism heralded a new phase in Jamaican rituals, where the Rastas identified themselves as “children,” both in the spiritual and genealogical sense, and in keeping with the kinship of the ancient Israelites who followed Moses across the Red Sea centuries ago.
The Biblical chronicles of “Exile” and “Return to the Promised Land” served as a mythical document for the arrest of slaves in the New World, and their longing to bring redemption out of slavery. The use of old materials for the creation of a new prophetic structure caused the image of Ethiopia-Israel to appear as a black nation. It is part of the Rasta tradition, to set an example, to sing and to thank “Holy Mount Zion” which is recognized by faith as the home of Jah Ras Tafari I. This process served to crystallize African sovereignty and legitimacy in a unique religious-political appearance.

Through Bible references to Ethiopia, for example in Psalm 68:31, “Ethiopia shall soon stretch out His hands unto God,” and in Acts 8:27, “people of African descent learn to recognize their lost country and the inheritance in the land Ethiopia and Ethiopians. ” Thus the Rastas began to treat all the Ethiopian references in the bible with affection, for there was the liberating promise, which, when contrasted with the indignity of slavery in the plantations, showed the Negro in a human and dignified light.

It is at the base of classical Ethiopianism that the Association of Black Universal Progress and the “Back-to-Africa” ​​movement led by Marcus Garvey is well known. The philosophy of racial nationalism, proposed by Garvey, was an ethnic concept, marrying Ethiopia and racial consciousness derived from Pan-African nationalism. “Through racial consciousness, members of a race are present and aspiring for the future.”

A racially conscious group is more than a mere aggregation of distinctly zoologically distinct individuals from other ethnic groups. It is a social struggle united with the direction of personal and group fulfillment in order to achieve a quality of life of its own. Therefore, it is a conflicting group and racial consciousness is itself a result of the conflict. “The race of a group though not intrinsically significant, becomes a symbol of identity that serves to intensify the sense of solidarity.”

For Garvey to be black meant to be African, “at home or abroad,” and racial identity stipulated national rights. Under the title “Africa for Africans,” Garvey re-launched the Ethiopian tradition into a political program for the liberation of blacks. Garvey’s view of ‘African redemption’ was and remains radical in the sense that, for the first time in history, black people were universally recognized as Africans in the context of a mass movement with international popularity.

What is unique to the Rastas of Jamaica in the African emancipatory tradition is its direct identification with the Theocratic State of Ethiopia under the “eternal” rule of Emperor Haile Selassie I, entitled Jah Ras Tafari I. Modeling as the reincarnation of the ancients Israelites, the Rastas use the biblical past of Jewish theocracy to form their ethnicity as a family, a nation.

The most remarkable prophetic phrase attributed to Marcus Massiah Garvey states, “Look at Africa! When a King is crowned, the day of redemption will be in the hands. ” The coronation on 2 November 1930 of the Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, formally entitled Ras Tafari I was interpreted as the confirmation of the prophecy.

Ras means “head, prince” in Aramaic and Tafari, “Fearless.”
It was also translated by the pioneers of the Rasta movement to mean “Creator.” Haile Selassie I, the descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, received the sacred titles written in the bible that were reserved for the advent of the Second Coming: King of kings, Lord of lords and Lion conqueror of the Tribe of Judah.


In the faith of the Rastas, Haile Selassie is revered as Jah Ras Tafari I, the Messiah, the Black Christ who ascended to the Throne of King David in Adis Ababa, officiating the promise of a new spiritual order. As a defender of the Throne against Mussolini’s fascist attack in 1935 as one of the chief architects of Pan-African nationalism through the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa in 1963 and later as monarch – ambassador to the oldest independent state in Africa, Ethiopia, Emperor Selassie achieved respect for countless blacks and was recognized as the defender of African union and freedom.
Haile Selassie is a sacred name, which translated means “Power of the Trinity”. In all ancient religions lies the same analogy to God’s First Law, action-reaction-balance. In Christianity this same formula is recognized in the Father – Son – Holy Spirit; in Hinduism, vishnu- krishna-brahma. However, what authenticated the true strength of Ras Tafari was the personification of the First Law in one person, Haile Selassie I.


Even before the outbreak of the Italo-Ethiopian war in 1935, a photograph of Haile Selassie I in a warrior vest in Amhara circled the favelas of Kingston along with an article in the Times newspaper on December 7. According to the report, originally attributed to an Italian fascist propaganda agent, Emperor Selassie was the mentor of the Nyahbinghi Order. This order was internationally recognized as a secret African society dedicated to overthrowing white and colonial domination. The name Nyahbinghi meant “death to Europeans”.

In Jamaica, the first adherents of the Ras Tafari I faith made this article almost like a call and sought to align spiritually with the Emperor Selassie, effectively participating in the Nyahbinghi Order. The word Nyahbinghi was quickly adapted to the Rasta vocabulary as a racial protest, and came to mean ‘death to the black and white oppressors’.

Many Rasta communities began to identify as Nyahs, and in the sleaze of West Kingston, a militancy of the new movement began to develop. In 1960, the University of West Indies sponsored a report on the Ras Tafari I movement and its relationship with Jamaican society in general. This report was the result of a request from part of the Rasta community that complained of police persecution and public misinformation. Until then Jamaica, contrary to what many people think, the majority was (and still is) Christian, whereas the Rastas were seen without any social status, because most of them lived in poor conditions.

In the report, Nyahbinghi was associated with violent values ​​and with revolutionary elements. The Nyah were publicly identified by their long hair, the Dreadlocks, and by the sacred, but challenging and antisocial use of marijuana (ganja). The Nyahbinghis within the current Ras Tafari I movement is a long term which in addition to its original meaning also covers other important aspects of cultural life including:
The Nyahbinghi Order, a section within the Ras Tafari I movement in general, also recognizes the Theocratic Government of Haile Selassie I. The members of the first generation Nyah are part of the formation of the Rasta movement .
Rituals of worship and worship are sponsored by members of the community. Nyahbinghis ceremonies are regularly celebrated on various dates throughout the island of Jamaica. Annual celebrations include the anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie I (July 23), the date of the Emperor’s coronation (November 2) and the Emperor’s visit to Jamaica in 1966 (April 21). The Nyahbinghis also hold Assemblies or “Congregations” which are considered as “divine services”

The music with the drums, the dance and the words are part of the celebration and the cult and also are denominated of Nyahbinghi. As part of the resurrection given African beat, the Nyahbinghi or Heart Beat music is linked to the harps of King David, used to compose the actual psalms of the Old Testament.

Nyahbinghi congregations usually last from three to seven days, time for the community to gather and revitalize the Ras Tafari faith through activities such as playing drums, singing prayers, reading Bible passages, smoking marijuana, and dancing. At the center of the Nyahbinghi celebration is the Tabernacle where the ritual takes place. With the colors of the Ethiopian flag (gold and red green), the Nyahs call Israel their providential destiny – “Africa, yes! Jamaica, no! “” Jah calls the singers and instrument players, “” Repatriation now! “.

The Nyahbinghi Tabernacle is the circular room of the rainbow throne (represented by the colors of the Ethiopian flag), the sacred power of the ground from which emanates the earthquake, light, thunder, fire and sulfur of Armageddon. The “chalice” (chalice, Rasta pipe) Passes from hand to hand around the altar, ritualistically activating the symbols of heat, air and water, the primary forces of creation. Through the Word, Sound and Power (Word, Sound & Iwah) faith is united with the Creative Head (Ras Tafari) in a kind of mystical telepathy, which has the intention of singing the fall of Babylon, to rid the Earth of perversity and restore the natural order of Creation and its original state of perfection. Outside the Tabernacle stands a large fire where a man of fire remains awake to keep the flames of justice and judgment burning until the time of repatriation arrives.

According to a common account of an observer of the movement in 1953 there was a marked lack in the beat of the barrels in the first Rastas street encounters. In these encounters, revival hymns of Afro-Christian cults known as pocomania and Sion were adapted for the development of the Jesus Christ liturgy in all song texts. Hymns Garveyists and even the Ethiopian National Anthem Nyahbinghi were sung. At that time the antagonism between the Rasta groups and the Revivalists grew, buru was at that time the Rastafari music, inspiring their drums. Buru was at that time the most popular song derived from the African secularity in Kingston. Despite the clear derivation of the Nyahbinghi beat, base, background and marker of the three Burus drums, the two traditions have distinct basal rhythms. However, both styles have a direct historical background in the musical tradition of western and central Africa. Both have a rhythmic arrangement based on the interleaving of beats played on multiple drums.

Nyahbinghi music is a companion taken from the African past, but the distance is musically evident even by the improvised touches of the leader and marker. The hit Nyahbinghi, with messages from Black Redemption, have been incorporated into reggae. These popular liberation connotations are heard today from the street sound systems of Kingston to the Shebeen of Soweto in South Africa.

The “Rasta talk” the ritual form of speaking, practiced to varying degrees in the movement, is especially prominent among adherents of the Nyahbinghi Order. Considering the messianic and also millennial movement Ras Tafari I fit in the discrimination “anti society”, “a society established within another society” as a conscious alternative. It is a mode of resistance to the market still “slave” of the modern Babylon. Ras Tafari’s speech as an “anti-language is not only parallel to society, it is actually generated by it.” The anti-language grows when the alternative reality is a contradicted reality, established in opposition to subjective reality, not merely expressing it, more actively creating and maintaining this other form of expression, which is nothing more than a collective action.

“I and I” is used wherever a pronoun appears in the speech; replaces ‘you and me’. The oblique use of the pronoun expresses the presumed equality among the Rastas. “I and I” means the common identity of the speakers as children of Haile Selassie I. The names given by the Rastas exemplify the association of man and God. The enunciation of “I” when pronounced “Jah Ras Tafari I” or “Haile I Selassie” connects personal intention with the divine vibration.

“Who are you ? there is no you. There is only I, I and I. I am you, I am God, God is I. God is you but there is no you, because you are I, then I and I are God. We are all each and one with God because it is the same energy of Life that flows in all of us. ”

In addition, the language (I – ance, parlance) Ras Tafari I involves the remodeling and hiding of lexical items to find their need. A common technique is to connote a symbol, to increase the meaning of the word; for example, by transforming “oppressors” into “depressors” (opressers = downpressers), “politicians” into “politicians”, “understanding” into “understand = overstand.”

The use of a few words by the Rastas who lived in the hills of Jamaica gave meaning to their view of the urban; for example “city” = “shity” (shit) or also to designate the social model – “system” = “shitstem”, “situation” = “shituation” shit situation). When the lack of culture, education – “education” = “head-decay-shun” (head-decay-away) and especially the valorization of historical European characters linked to the Catholic Church and making black slave trade – “Christopher Columbus” – “Christ-Come-To-Rob-Us” (Christ came to rob us) made thousands of words would emerge in the vocabulary called Patois.

This vast vocabulary is intended to define the world in which Rasta lives, both the economic, religious and political system as well as the spiritual aspiration. All words that have the pronoun “I” refer exclusively to the values ​​or rituals that the Rastas gave importance to; for example, “I-shence” = “icense (incense),
(marijuana) “I-ses” = “praises” (prayers), “Iration” = “Creation”, “Ithiopia” = “Ethiopia” (Ethiopia). “I-wah” = “power” (power) “I-tes” = “thoughts” (thoughts).

The understanding of African redemption is similarly connoted by the concept of “I”. “For I” or “Far Eye” used in Rastafari I are terms for naming the mystical vision. The visionary experience is internal, part by the process of conversation, and lately by the visionary notion that rendering is equal to repatriation; the vision of Africa agrees with the expectation of salvation.


Ideological justifications for the ganja consumption ritual (marijuana) are common among the Rastas. The religious use of the herb is made by the process of planting, harvesting and consumption. The Rastas believe in the power of marijuana, through the opening of a telepathic channel that increases the perception of reality. They also say in the right to smoke because the Bible brings passages indicating the consume of the herb to put some of the prophets in the Old Testament. “Traces of marijuana were found in the tomb of King Solomon, and of a species far more powerful than that found today.”
Jamaica is one of the largest producers of ganja in the world and also the cheapest. It is still illegal to consume the herb; For this reason, many Rastas were killed and persecuted for the whole island. The highest quality plants found in Jamaica are Lambsbread and Sinsemila.
The Dreadlock, distinctly disheveled and with beard and long hair is another presentation of the Rastas’ cultural identity. Many Jamaicans inclusive often consider the sloppy appearance of the Dreads as an indication of lack of cleanliness standards. They incorrectly say that Rastas never wash their hair.

Those with dreadlocks are stigmatized as crazy by Jamaican society in general. Rastas are also known as “Knotty Dread” (Bearded Dread) or in the language they often use- “Natty Dread”. They are rejected to jobs basically put their appearances. In colonial and post – colonial Jamaican society, the police on many occasions cut the hair of the dreadlocks as an act of public rejection and social control over the movement.

The Rastas believe in the mystical power of the Dreadlocks are understood according to the biblical interpretation as the “vow of the Nazarenes,” and also as proof that they are the “chosen” during this time of judgment. Finally, they ground the growth of the dreads as a natural, man-made state sanctioned by God. “The gleam of dreads is the gleam of black light, an act done to call forth the forces of Judgment to make the perverse heart fall out of Creation, to destroy and paralyze all depressors.” Among other arguments presented by the Rastas in relation to dreadlock, the best known is that the beard and long hair represent the lion’s mane, symbol of the Rasta philosophy.

Among the Rastas is very common the interpretation of the biblical passages. The biblical version of King James of England is regarded as containing only half of the “Book of Life.” Rastas themselves often remember that “the other half was never told”. The Rastas use the Maccabean version of Ethiopian origin, considered the integral book of Revelation. Among revelations lies the secret and meaning of the Seven Seals of King Solomon.
“And I cried so much that no man was worthy to open the book or to loose the Seven Seals. And one of the elders said, “Do not weep, behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah. ​​The root of David was able to open the Book and release the Seven Seals, and I beheld, and in the midst of the throne, among the elders, a lamb was slain put seven horns, seven eyes, and seven spirits of eternal Jehovah, sent forth to put all the earth, and He came and took the book in the right hand of His Majesty Jah Ras Tafari I who is seated on the Throne. And the seventh seal was released. The Seventh Seal is known as Haile Selassie I, the First of Ethiopia. ”

The meaning of Haile Selassie I in relation to the Seven Seals was revealed to a leader of a Rasta community in a Vision. In making his vision public, he proclaimed himself in a position of prophetic leadership to put his ability to interpret the meaning of the revealed sign.

Unlike the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and the Community of Prince Emmanuel (all of these Rastas congregations), the Nyahbinghi Order has not a single permanent and central place for its celebrations, and does not even take care of the figure of a single leader. In fact, the Nyahbinghi themselves claim that each individual is a temple in itself, and thus disdain those who emphasize the use of constructions as essential for communal celebrations.

The Nyahbinghi Order does not have a formal organizational corporation with appointed or elected members, where decisions are made by its associates. Emperor Haile SelassieI is recognized as the “head” of the Nyahbinghi Order. His undisputed spiritual authority serves as an effective barrier to the formation of an elitist regulatory council. The elders, the elders, are part of the operational leadership of the Nyahbinghi, based largely on charisma. The recognition of social and spiritual abilities along with the time of commitment to movement determines a Rasta to be an “elder”. Those who are competent in conducting a celebration and have the knowledge of the Rastafari tradition emerges as a leader within their congregation.

By the end of the 1960s, many Rastas had become, in conditions of extreme poverty, economically banished from the capitalist system. For the most part, the Rastas seek to maintain themselves financially through art, especially handicrafts. The Rastas’ ability to carve pieces of African motif is well recognized; such as masks, statues and biblical symbols.

But where the Rasta culture best spread was in music, with Reggae. The origin of Reggae is Ska, an accelerated rhythm with metal instruments from the American black music of the 50s and 60s. From the mid to late 1960s Ska slowed down, giving rise to Rocksteady. The metals ceased to be the instruments that marked the music, and in their places was inserted the African percussion with the beat of the guitar in a Rock style. This rhythm from the beginning of the 70’s started to be slower still and with another name, now Reggae. Most famous singers and bands in Jamaica went through these three styles of rhythm, including the Wailers, a group formed in its early days by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer (considered musical prophets by Rastas).

The Jamaican phonographic industry made an incredible breakthrough in the 1960s and 1970s, just because several bands and singers, all Rastas, appeared on the music scene. Reggae is considered by Rasta itself to be the music of Jah (God), first by having the same heartbeat and then by messages, with mainly religious lyrics and racial and political protest.

“Rivers of babylon”
The Melodians
Adapted from Psalm 137: 1
By the rivers of Babylon,
Where we sat down,
And there we wept
When we remembered Zion
Through the rivers of Babylon,
Where we sit,
And there we cry
When we remember Zion
Oh, the wicked
Carried us away in captivity,
Required from us to song,
How can we sing
King Alpha’s song
Inna strange land?
O the mighty
It took us prisoners,
He demanded a song from us.
How can we sing
The King Alfa song
In a strange land?
So, let the words
Of our mouth and the meditation
Of our heart
Be acceptable in Thy sight
So let the words
From our mouth
And meditation
From our heart
Be acceptable in Your vision
Oh, Fari I!

My God!




How to Become a Rasta in 3 Steps!

Even after a few years of living in this line, searching for this path and this experience, he asked me “what is it like to be Rasta anyway?”

I ask myself this question because I see so much, so many contradictory attitudes, so much information cross, that can not be asked. Worse, and when I think, “But am I really Rasta?” For sometimes certain information coming from some Rastas is so unreal to me that I can not think of it. But thanks to JAH, after a few years, we learn that inside this Universe everything happens “In the world everything has” and then I remember His Majesty from where only certainty comes.

Once in a documentary I saw an Elder Rastafari say that the Rastafari Universe is so diverse that sometimes two Rastas may have nothing in common, or almost nothing, for what makes them both Rastas is that they follow His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Haile Selassie. I have that same thought. In order not to go to judgment, I believe that this is the only criterion for whether or not a person is Rastafari. Only criterion and condition required! No one has the right to annul another’s identity, but someone says that it is Rastafari without knowing or accepting Ras Tafari himself in his life, it is like a person saying Hare Krishina and not knowing who Krishina is, or “I am a Buddhist, but not I accept Buddha “,” I identify with some of the things of Christians but I do not accept Christ “. Does it seem absurd? Only in Rastafari does this happen? Because?

Some say it’s because of reggae, that it’s all the fault of the reggae industry. But ‘guilt’ is that people prefer the simple, the short, the impoverished, prefer not to think, prefer to imitate. They are also accustomed not to respect, not to understand, not to understand.

Whenever someone comes to me wanting to know about Rastafari I try to tell the person to get to know about Haile Selassie, about Empress Menen, and always have these references in their searches. Never put anyone else as your reference, whether it is me or any other Brother and Brother, for surely if you do this you will be disappointed.

If you are looking for Rastafari and a brother or sister try to put yourself as your guide, be wary !! For examples we all are, but to be followed, if you want to be a Rasta is only One, or 3 that are summarized in 1.

For those who are looking for a list of 3 basic rules of how to be Rasta, even without knowing much about His Majesty, I give the hint:

  • To love God above all things with all your heart
  • To love your neighbor as yourself
  • Do good and not do evil

If you follow well these 3 basic rules will arrive in the same place!



Posted by Omega Nyahbinghi at 5:59 PM

Telling the Rastafarian story

Telling the Rastafarian story

Courtesy of
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

On Monday April 18, 1966, the late Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, stepped onto the tarmac at Piarco International Airport and was greeted by then prime minister Dr Eric Williams and members of his Cabinet.

The year before, Dr Williams had visited the east African country and issued an invitation to Selassie who had been planning to visit the region, especially  Jamaica where he was revered as a spiritual figure by Rastafarians there. When the Caribbean expedition came off, T&T was the firststop, followed by a tumultuous trip to Jamaica.

Rastafarian researcher, Tyehimba Salandy, believes the emperor’s visit was pivotal to the subsequent, exponential growth of the faith in T&T and the strengthening of the movement in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

In introducing Salandy at a National Trust public lecture in Port-of-Spain last Thursday, Lisa-Ann Paul, who functions as heritage preservation and research officer at the National Trust, argued that “this momentous occasion (the Selassie visit) may have provided the impetus for the early beginnings of the Rastafari movement in Trinidad and Tobago.”

However, Salandy went on to advise a packed Old Fire Station hall last Thursday, Rastafarianism was yet to confront its sturdiest challenges.

In fact, Salandy argued that in addition to endemic racism against people of African descent, the “nationalist project in Trinidad” contributed more than its fair share of physical violence against and the marginalisation and social alienation of Rastafarians.

Backed by a selection of news clippings and photographs, Salandy said Rastas were openly vilified by different sections of the national community and persecuted by the police.

“It was clear that the authorities and many members of the public viewed Rastas with great contempt and disgust, viewing them as illiterates, insane, deviant and criminal,” Salandy argued.

He said the movement gained momentum in the years following the 1970 Black Power uprising when Afro hairstyles began giving way to dreadlocks. This was bolstered by the growing influence of Jamaican reggae superstars “who were rooted in the Rastafari tradition.”

He identified other influences such as the use of marijuana in the religious rites of Hindus together with their vegetarianism.

There was also the legacy of a relatively strong, black conscious, Garveyite movement during the pre-independence years that fed into the growth of trade unionism and radical thought.

Salandy argued that an important contributory factor behind a lack of recognition for Rastas was a prevailing repudiation of “the strong ethnic identification” of the group with things African.

This, he said, found expression in Dr Williams’ famous speech in which he asserted that there was no place for “Mother Africa” in T&T.

He also pointed to media reportage on the growing presence of Rastas throughout T&T, citing one 1973 newspaper article which referred to the group as “a bunch of filthy, unkempt black power terrorists who are only out to make trouble.”

Rastafarians were also readily associated with the activities of the National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF), whose members were systematically hunted down and killed after launching attacks on police stations and other facilities throughout Trinidad.

This, Salandy argued, provided the impetus behind growing threats of violence, killings and discrimination that threateneda proper place in school for Rastafarian
children and jobs for adherents to the faith.

The evening’s proceedings also gratuitously conflated the problems of Rastas with the plight of Afro-Trinidadians generally.

Paul, for example, suggested that the gains of the Black Power movement “were such that persons of darker hues were able to navigate social and economic spaces with greater ease.”

However, she added, “The Black Power Movement was by no means a cure-all. We still have a lot of work to do to move the mountain that is colonialism, self-hate and general ignorance.”

She argued that in addition to the conflict associated with a lack of self-appreciation was the battle to claim “our heritage; that is, the tangible and intangible legacies of a culture or environment that informs usabout ourselves.”

“European heritage represented through sites, monuments, properties, and other cultural facets are often regarded more highly than others mostly based on the outdated misconception that colonial inheritances are superior to indigenous and non-European heritage.”

Both Paul and Salandy, whose lecture was the highlight of the evening, appeared to be saying that the insights of the early days of African/Rastafarian awareness remained challenged by school curricula, mass media and general systems of social organisation that continue to marginalise the value Rastafarian values can bring to T&T society.

There were no dissenting voices in the audience.

The African Diaspora, Ethiopianism, and Rastafari

The African Diaspora,
Ethiopianism, and Rastafari

Courstey of


Amharic One of the many languages of Ethiopia; the language of the royal Ethiopian dynasty since the 13th century.

Babylon From a Rastafari perspective, Babylon is the historically white-European colonial and imperialist power structure which has oppressed Blacks and other peoples of color.

Diaspora (dispersion; a migration; the dispersion of an originally homogeneous people). The mass dispersion of peoples of a common culture or national origin is commonly referred to as a diaspora. Historically, these movements tend to be forced or involuntary. They may be the result military occupation, systematic persecution, servitude, enslavement, or laws by which the dominant society defines an ethnic group as marginal, undesireable, or subordinate. These movements also tend to reflect pervasive regional or global forces that separate peoples of common origin form their homeland (real or imagined), leaving them to think of themselves as exiles. Such is the case of the African diaspora which began in the early 16th century and displaced tens of millions of Africans from their ancestral continent to various sites in the New World.

East Indian (Indo-Jamaican, Indo-Trinidadian, etc.): In the Caribbean context, this term is used to refer to individuals who came to the Caribbean (mostly Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana) during the late 19th century as indentured laborers :

Elders The term given to individuals of longstanding commitment in the Rasta Movement. In everyday speech, the status of male individuals as elders is often acknowledged by use of the term “Bongo” as an honorific (e.g., addressing someone as “Bongo Hill” or “Bongo Ketu”).

Ital The Rastafari term for a saltless and vegetarian diet. Although not all Rastafari adhere strictly to such a diet, it serves as a model for idealized lifeways of practitioners. During Nyabinghi ceremonies (which last for up to a week), an Ital diet is part of the ritual protocol observed by communicants.

Jah In Rasta speech, this term is used as a synonym for Emperor Haile Selassie as the manifestation of the Godhead. The term derives from the Old Testament where it appears as an archaic form of “Jehovah” (see Psalm 68:4).

Maroons A term derived from the Spanish word cimarron, meaning wild or unruly, used to refer to runaway slaves in various parts of the Caribbean. In Jamaica, Maroon settlements formed in the island’s mountainous interior as early as the mid-16th century. While small in number compared to the overall population in Jamaica, Maroons retained strong African-derived traditions and remained proud of their cultural heritage. In the 20th century, Rastafari culture has continued to carry forward this African pride in Jamaica and other parts of the Black Diaspora.

Nyabinghi (Ni-uh-bin-gee) This term has a series of overlapping meanings within the contemporary Rastafari Movement. It refers variously to the island-wide religious gatherings of Rasta brethren and sistren at which communicants “praise Jah” and “chant down Babylon,” to the three-part drum ensemble on which chants are composed, to the African-derived dance-drumming style performed at these events, and to the corpus of chants themselves. It also refers to the most orthodox organization within the broader Rasta movement variously known as the House of Nyabinghi or the Theocratic Government of Emperor Haile Selassie I. The term Nyabinghi entered the movement in late 1935 during the Italian Invasion of Ethiopia and is actually derived from an African secret society which operated in the Congo and Ruwanda during the last quarter of the 19th century.

Ras Tafari the pre-coronation name of Emperor Haile Selassie I. Ras is an Amharic term equivalent to duke or lord. And Tafari Makonnen was the family name of Emperor Selassie. Rastafari is the same name taken by members of the Rastafari movement who regard the Ethiopian Emperor as the reincarnation of Christ as well as the embodiment of the Godhead.

Reggae Sometimes called “the King’s music” or “roots music”, reggae is the Rasta-inspired music of black protest which emerged in Jamaica during the late 1960s. Reggae reflects the basic rhythmic influences of Nyabinghi drumming as well as that of other African Jamaican musical traditions. During the 1970s, Rastafari-inspired reggae themes became central to the emergent national consciousness of Jamaicans, both Rastafari and non-Rastafari alike. During this same period, the music developed an international following in Europe, the United States, and on the African continent.

West Indian The term used to refer to the peoples and cultures of the Caribbean archipelago and parts of the Circum-Caribbean rimlands from present-day Belize to Jamaica in the Greater Antilles to Trinidad and Barbados in the Lesser Antilles. Hence, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Antiguans, and others are often referred to collectively as West Indians. This is a problematic term since it does not refer to a single ethnic, linguistic, or national background. West Indian reflects the multicultural and migrant backgrounds of the populations that comprise the Caribbean as a cultural area.

Zion From a Rasta perspective, Zion refers broadly to Africa and more specifically to Ethiopia as the ancestral homeland of all black peoples. The symbols of Rastafari culture identify with this domain in its various spiritual, cultural, and political connotations.

Rastafari Culture The Extreme Ethiopian Rasta

Rastafari Culture
The Extreme Ethiopian Rasta Vs. The Mellow Dallas Rasta

Courstey of William Grant – April 25 2002 –  Reggae/ Speech 214 – Professor Snider

Many people throughout the world have a hard time understanding what it means to be a Rasta.  For some their troubles in understanding Rasta’s come because they look as Rastafari as only a religion.  When one does this they run into many problems. This is because Rastafari is much more than a religion.  It is a way of life, a social movement, as well as a mind set.  Another reason why western people have a hard time understanding Rastafari is because the movement lacks the structure that the western world is use to.

 A lot of people’s understanding of Rasta’s only goes as far as to think that Rasta’s are people that live in Jamaica, smoke weed, and have Dreadlocks. These people do not begin to think what is behind the movement. The idea that Rastafari is strictly Jamaican is also very wrong.  Since the origination of Rastafari, the Rasta movement has expanded far beyond the island of Jamaica.  Rasta’s now live all over the world.  There are Rasta cultures in all parts of Europe, Asia, New Zealand, United States, and especially Africa. This paper seeks to explain Rastafari and to show it’s expansion by exposing Rasta’s culture from it’s most holy form in Ethiopia to one of it’s least holy in Dallas Texas.

The Development of Rastafari

             The Rastafari movement stems from the teachings of the great Jamaican leader and motivator of masses, Maces Garvey.  Garvey told the African people of the world to unite and to return to African, the homeland. Garvey’s vision was for the

“Blacks to overcome their feelings of inferiority and build upon their own unique and evolving culture, and ultimately return to Africa to redeem their homeland and to build a future”(Dubb. Pg2)

Garvey’s vision and ability to unite people made the Jamaican people enlightened to what was going on in the world.  Garvey created the U.N.I.A. and the Negro World newspaper, which helped to inform the Jamaicans of what was going on in the African world. Garvey told his followers, “Look towards Africa for the crowning of a black king – he shall be the redeemer”. Garvey often used many biblical terms in his teaching to free his movement from the oppression of the “White Man”, whether he meant them to be taken literally is unclear, but what is clear is that many Jamaicans took them literally. An event that would happen in 1930 would be as important to a Rasta’s as the birth of Christ is to a Christian.

            In 1930 a man named Tafari Makonne or Ras Tafari (Ras meaning king) claimed himself Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I as well as the traditional titles “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Conquering Lion of the Tribe Judah.  To some Jamaican people this meant that Garvey’s prophecy had been fulfilled. These people tuned to the Bible and through literal translation of the documents found much correlation into what had taken place. An important correlation to the Bible is the fact that Selassie claimed to be a direct descendent of King David. By Selassie claming his relation to David, he had made a coalition to Revelation 5:2-5.  To some Jamaicans this meant their Messiah had arrived.

            In Jamaica some people such as Leonard P. Howell, J.N. Hibert, and Archibald Dunkle, began to spread the word of the Messiah coming to save the African people.  To Dunkle Howell, and Hibert Haile,  Selassie became their living god.  The people who listened to this soon began to call themselves Rastafarians. To these new Rasta’s, Ethiopia became their Zion, and Haile Selassie their Messiah. The Rastafari religion would continue to follow this trend of interpreting the Bible literally which lead to practices that make the Rastafari religion unique from any other.

What It Means to be Rasta

            The beliefs of the Rastafarian are often misunderstood. To many, any one who has dreads, smokes ganja, and plays Reggae music is a Rasta. There is much more than those three elements to being a Rasta.  Rastafari is more than just a religion.  It is a movement and a way of life. The Rasta life style is one of peace, or at least it seeks to be one of peace. I say this because throughout the world the Rasta are oppressed and harassed and Rasta’s sometimes are forced to turn to violence for survival.  It is important when reading this section of the paper that one understands that the Rastafari has no set book of rules. The Rasta way of life that is laid out here is not true for all Rasta’s. What is said in this section is the basic beliefs of Rasta and not all Rasta’s follow these customs exactly.

Ganja Smoking

                One of the first aspects of Rastafari that come to mind when people hear of Rastafari is their use of marijuana. The smoking Ganja for a Rasta is a special experience. They use the Ganja to help enlighten their mind so they can correctly reason the ways of the world. The Ganja is always smoked in a ritual way. Before smoking the plant the Rasta will say a prayer to Jah (God) or to Haile Selassie I. The Rasta call them reasoning sessions when they use Ganja for Nyabinghi. A Nyabinghi session is much different from a casual marijuana smoking session that western people take part in. People in the west smoke marijuana for social and entertainment reasons. In the west smoking the weed may lead to a silly time of laughing and horse play.  This differs greatly from what takes place during a Nyabinghi. A Nyabinghi is a taken very seriously.  Acting silly would be considered disrespectful to a Rasta.  Before Rasta smoke the ritual plant, they say a prayer to their god Haile Selassie.

            Unfortunately for the Rasta, the smoking of Ganja has become one of the Rasta biggest struggles. This is due to the fact that Ganja smoking is illegal in almost every country in the world with the exception of two. Throughout the world, from South Africa to Jamaica the Rasta are constantly at court with the government trying to fight for the legalization of Ganja for religious purposes. In every country that Rasta’s have gone to court to fight for this religious right they have lost.  The countries that they have tried to fight for the right to smoke Ganja in include: Great Britain, United States, South African, Jamaica, and more. Many Rasta’s throughout the world have ended up in jail because of the smoking of their religious plant.

            The Rasta’s use of Ganja stems back to the beginning of Rastarafi in Jamaica.  In 1941 one of the early teachers of Rastafari, Leonard P. Howell, set up a Rasta community of sixteen hundred Rasta’s. This community was named Pinnacle. At Pinnacle, Howell grew Ganja as a cash crop.  It was during this time that Rasta discovered the properties of Ganja that helped their reasoning process. The Rasta soon turned to the Bible and found reverence to the use of this holy plant.  From this Ganja was born into the Rastafari culture.


            Dreadlocks are another well-known part of Rastafari.  The origin of the dreadlock traces back to ancient Africa, originating in eastern Africa,

“The hairstyle was worn by warriors in Kenya, and a Hairstyle of ancient Kemet and Nubia. However in Jamaica, in post slavery and Eurocentric culture, the Hairstyle was deemed in the early years as “Dreadful”(Dubb pg.3).

                    The name dreadlock comes from the locks of hair deemed dreadful as Dubb explained.  The Rasta’s also believe that they should not put sharp metal objects to their head.  This comes again from interpreting the Bible literally.  Due to this belief they do not believe it is right to shave or comb their hair. Another belief that led to the dreadlocks among Rasta’s is that the wearing of the Dread resembles the main of  a lion. The lion is significant because the lion is the respected king of the animal kingdom, as well as humble animal. Both of these traits the Rasta believes are divine and important to the “Black Man”. Haile Selassie I also was called “the conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah”, this makes the wearing of the dread connected to the Rasta god. The dreadlock is also a natural state of the African person hair, and by being natural the Rasta feels they are more connected to Jah.

              The wearing of the dread first appeared in the Rasta Community at the original Rasta community of Pinnacle. At Pinnacle Howell was growing Ganja as a cash crop and the police where constantly raiding the farms.  Because of this and other border problems at the Rasta community, Howell was forced to create a group of guards to protect the area.  These guards grew their hair long in the form of ancient African warriors and became known as “locksmen”.  With this and the reasons given in the previous paragraph, the Dreadlock became the hairstyle of the Rasta.

               Just like the smoking of Ganja, the dreadlock hairstyle has lead many problems for the Rasta.  In the early days of Rastafari, Rasta who wore their hair in dread form where brutalized by the police for no reason. This pushed many Rasta into the bush of Jamaica so that they could live in peace. Things have not gotten a whole lot better for dreadlocked people.  In Jamaica and other parts of the world children who have dreads are not allowed to attend some schools. Just like the Ganja issue the, the dreadlock school issue is constantly being fought in courts throughout the Rasta world.  It came up lately in a South African school where a young child was not given the right to go to school because of her dreads and the issue had to be fought in court.

The Rasta Diet.

            The Rastafari diet is something that is often overlooked by many people who do not know a great deal about Rastafari. The Rasta has a very interesting belief in their thoughts about dead beings. The Rasta’s do not like being around any animal that is dead. This idea stems into their diet. The Rasta believes that it is wrong to eat animals that have died because then you are turning your body into a cemetery. This does not mean that a Rasta will not eat dairy products. Most Rasta’s have no problem with the consumption of milk because it does not come from a dead animal. Although most Rasta’s will not eat animal meat, many Rasta’s will eat fish. However the Rasta will not eat shellfish.  This stems from more readings in the Bible.  Some but not all Rasta will go as far as to not t eat fruit that has been altered from its original form.  This means they would not eat fruit that has been pealed, cut, or smashed. There is also a large number of Rasta that will not eat any processed food.

Rasta Dialect

               The dialect of the Rasta reflects their beliefs in many ways. “If you Really want to know how Rasta’s think, listen to them Talk”(Hicholas pg.37).  Rasta’s take their speech very seriously.  Rasta’s are often trying to make their speech sound very powerful and grateful. The Rasta’s speech reflects how they often think literally.  Their speech uses a literal translation of words, just like their beliefs use a literal translation of biblical readings.  Their speech reflects their protest against oppression, as well as their protest against authority. When the Rasta’s speech is analyzed, it shows how the Rasta’s are always trying to think positively.

              The Rastafarian rhetoric changes the English language in a way that helps them make more sense of the world, as well as to protest against what the Rasta believe to be unjust. Rasta will often change word from a negative meaning to a positive meaning.  The changing of the word understand to “overstand” is an example of this.  To “overstand” means to fully and entirely have a grasp of a concept. This Rasta reasoning for this is that something that is under is worse than something that is over it, so they change “under” to “over”.  A Rasta might say  “I and I, must not just understand but overstand, seen”.  A Rasta will almost never use a negative term.  They will always replace it with something positive. This is a great reflection on how the Rasta always sees things positively.

               Another interesting concept of the Rasta’s language is their concept of I and I. The letter “I” is in almost every part of their language. It is in the name of their Religion “Rastafari”, and it is part of their gods title Selassie I. The Rasta use the word to connect themselves to god, to show that that god is always part of them.  A Rasta will never “I am going there” instead it would be “I and I am going there”.  The Rasta does this to show that god is part of him, and that he is not separate from any other person. “I” is also used to replace letters of powerful words.  This too is reflected in the word “you” not being part of the Rasta language. The Rasta believes that first there was just “I” and then the devil came and created “you”.

The Rasta’s Social Thought.

            The Rasta believes in peace and they are constantly trying to preach down violence. This preaching down of violence is often hard for Rasta’s to do because most Rasta live in poor areas where peace is often unattainable.  The Rasta fear world wars, and especially Nuclear war. This want for world peace is heard often in the Rasta’s Reggae music.

            One of the most important parts of Rasta thought is the protest against authority and structure.  The Rasta’s refer to the authorities that rule the world as Babylon.  Babylon is connected to the devil and is ruled by the oppressive “white man”.  This rejection of authority can be seen in how Rastafari has no rules like many other religions do.  There is not one thing that Rasta has to do to be a Rasta because that would defeat the whole purpose of being a Rasta.  The Rasta’s reject the Pope very much. “Burn the Pope. Burn the Pope man….The Pope is a vampire, wants our blood. Selassie I is the head. The Pope is the devil”(Lewis pg 45).  This quote of a Jamaican Rasta is an example of how the Rasta’s feel about organized religion and the Pope.

            Rasta’s economic beliefs are anti-capitalism. The Rasta’s believe that Capitalism is part of Babylon.  Rasta’s believe what is yours is also your neighbors. This does not mean that Rasta’s would approve of Communism.  To a Rasta Communism would be too structured.  They would also reject the idea of a leader telling them what to do. Most Rasta’s also do not believe in paying taxes.  Because of this most Rasta’s do not take part in the formal economy.  Instead they either live in a place where they can survive on what they can grow or they take part in the informal economy and survive through street vending.  Some Rasta’s survive by selling Ganja, or other illegal substances.

            One unfortunate part of Rastafari is their negative attitude toward females.  Most Rasta’s believe that females are not equal to men.  They believe that a good woman must always respect men and do what they ask. This is very contrary to much of their other beliefs about people being equal.  Rasta men often beat their wives for being lazy.  Rasta men believe that being naked is good because you are closer to god in your natural state.  However Rasta’s believe that women should not show off their bodies. Rasta’s belief of sexual contact also differs from men to women.  Rasta men often have many different partners, while it is wrong for Rasta women to give more than a hand shake to more than one man.

Rastafari in Ethiopia.

            For many Rasta’s moving back to Ethiopia is their dream.  Fortunately for some this dream has come true.  In 1963 Emperor Haile Selassie I gave 500 hectares of land to any African that wished to return to Ethiopia. The land that was given is located in the small southern Ethiopian town of Shasemene.  The small town of Shasemene has a population of 13,000.  The people living in this town are 90% Christian and 10% Muslim.  The town has many visitors because it is a cross roads of the three largest Ethiopian cities. Prostitution is very common in this town and many women make good money through this business. Other than prostitution there is little contact between the sexes. The town’s economic base is in   trade and farming. The staple crops are maize, beans, potatoes, wheat, barley and injera (a local grain used in traditional Ethiopian breads).

            Separate from this economy the Rasta’s have set up a commune that lies three miles outside of the main market of Shashemene.  The town has grown from the original 12 Rasta’s to two hundred families.  Almost all of the Rasta’s living in the town have come from Jamaica. For the most part the only ones who have not are Ethiopian woman who have intermarried with the Rasta’s.  The Rasta’s who live here are members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Twelve Tribes is the most organized form of Rastafari that there is. The origin of the group is in Jamaica and has branches in Brooklyn, NY.  The Twelve Tribes tend to be more radical in their beliefs than other Rasta’s.  They believe strongly in the return of all Rasta’s to Africa.

            The Rasta’s compound is made up of houses that are made out of mud, straw, clay and loose concrete mix. The structure of these houses is very strong, but none of the houses are more than one story.  This is because the Rasta’s of this area believe that building their houses over one story would be invading Gods area. The walls of these houses are also very porous because the Rasta’s say that is so they can breath while inside.

            The Rasta’s that live in the compound at Shashemene are able to live without being controlled by any kind of state. Their economy is completely informal.  This is able to work because the land is very fertile and they can grow almost all they need to survive.  What they can’t grow they get from the trading at the market and other funding that comes from Jamaica and other organizations. Because of this the people of the compound are completely free and truly live with no other person governing their actions.  There is no class order in the compound.  Work projects are done by the most skilled person in that field, being in charge of the project.

            Life for women in the Rasta compound at Shashemene is not great.  In fact it is more oppressive than in other areas of Rastafari culture. Women are often severely beaten for taking too long to go to the market. The men often time how long it takes to go to the market and come back with out wasting time to talk or any other pleasure.  If the woman does not return in this pre planed time they are often beaten.

“She showed me scars she bore from such a beating when she was punished for lingering too long in the daily market. Her husband had carefully timed her trips to the market and lateness aroused suspicions of infidelity”(Lewis pg 112)

This is grossly unfair for when men go to the market they spend much time lingering around, smoking Ganja, listening to the BBC to see what is happening in the world as well as discussing their view of world politics of other Rasta’s.

            The daily life for a man living in the Twelve Tribe compound is much different than that of the women. The men spend most of their time involved in activities that are not related to work. They will spend much of their time smoking and discussing Rasta world views, as well painting pictures of Haile Selasie I.   Most Rasta’s living on the compound do not do much work in the fields. Newcomers to the compound do most of the work that is done in the field.  Most of these new comers do not stay long in the community because they are worked too hard  by the older members. A Ethiopian women who lived in the compound for a while claims:

The newcomers, she claimed, are exploited and overworked through a process which the brethren call education. If they do remain it is because the brethren put fear in their hearts that the Twelve Tribes in Jamaica will shoot them should they leave. To return to Babylon is forbidden and sacrilegious (Lewis 112).

Most of the money that the members of the compound receive comes from the money that has been donated by people who live in Jamaica.

Different people that live in Shashemene perceive the Rasta’s differently.  Some people reject the Rasta’s because their way of life is in conflict with the rest of the community, while others find the Rasta’s to be a harmless group that does nothing to hurt the community.  However, there are very few among the villagers that feel that the Rasta’s do anything positive for the struggling town.

               There are a few reasons that some people in the town do not like the Rasta’s. One of these is that even though the Rasta’s preach anti-violence, people in the village claim that they are very quick to pull out a knife when they disagree with each other. A second complaint about the Rasta’s is that they are lazy and sell cloth at the market that was given to them as charity. A third complaint about the Rasta’s is one that is universal throughout every place that Rasta live. This is the complaint about their use of Ganja.

“All they do is smoke marijuana, which the Ethiopian farmers here grow for them. Some people in the town don’t like this, as our children have also started to use this drug. We like them as they integrate and there is a lot of inter-marriage, but the marijuana has to stop,” says 27-year-old mechanic Adbul Onduka.(Bhalla).

A fourth complaint out Rasta’s is simply that their religious beliefs clash with those of other Muslim and Christian beliefs.

             The Rasta’s that are currently living in Shashemene welcome any African that wants to come to live in their community to come. They say their community can handle any amount of people that want to come back to African.  The Rasta’s believe that they will some day turn the town of Shashemene into the most important city in Africa.  They claim that some day it will be a thriving African city that will be able to defeat the oppression of the “White Man”.  As of now the Rasta’s have done little to nothing to improve Shashemene.

Rastafari in the United States.

            Rastafari has ventured out of Jamaica and Africa to the United States. The center of Rastafari in the United States is by far New York City, but Rastafari is not limited to New York City at all.  There are large populations of Rasta’s living all over the U.S.  from California to the Methodist dominated Texas.  It seem wherever there are people of African decent that have been or are being oppressed by the “White Man” Rasta’s will emerge.

Dallas Texas

            One of the more interesting places that Rasta ‘s have emerged is Dallas Texas. Texas is one of the most religious areas in the western world.  Texas is a place where Christianity dominates the social life a great number of people.  Texas is also a place that has a great amount of discrimination of African people and this is probably one of the reasons that Rastafari has emerged in this area.

            Rastafari first came to Dallas 20 years ago.  Most of the first exposure to Rastafari came from Reggae music that became popular in that era.  It is not know how many Rasta’s are living in the area, but at a recent Rasta event to celebrate the birthday of Haile Selassie I over 500 Rasta’s showed up.  Most of the Rasta community in Dallas is African Americans who looked for answers through the Black Panther movement, or Nation of Islam, and other African churches, and were left felling empty. A Rasta by the name of Moore is a good example of this.  Moore spent much of his life looking for answers. He turned to the Nation of Islam and felt more oppressed than before.  Moore is now a Rasta and his outlook on life has improved very much for him. “It been a rough life, but as Rasta, we’ve got to keep on”(Jones pg. 4). This quote of Moore shows how Rastafari helps him get through his hard day-to-day life.

            Rasta’s in Dallas face many of the same problems that other Rasta’s face.  Like most other Rasta’s living throughout the world, they face the problem of smoking their religious herb, Ganja.  Despite this the Rasta’s in Dallas hold Nyabinghi rituals on every full moon in the Dallas area. The Rasta’s in Dallas try to help their issue of Ganja use by helping the community fight other drug problems in the city.  Rasta’s come to the anti drug rallies that the Muslims of the area held and by doing this the Rasta’s hoped to show that they where not pro drug.  By showing that they wanted to help the drug problems the Rasta’s hoped it would help them to legitimizes their ritual use of Ganja.

            Rasta’s also face discrimination of their religious style in Dallas. The son of Rasta Moore, Jameel Moore was suspended from his school for wearing his crown in his sixth grade elementary school.  The school officials suspended Jameel because they said he was violating the school rules that prohibit the wearing of hats.  The Moores disputed the ruling arguing that the crown was not a hat but a “Cultural Headdress”, just like the yarmulkes is to a Jew, and a turban is to a Hindu.  The issue was dropped when the school scared young Jameel so much that he had to swallow his pride and agree not to show his faith and not where the crown.

            Another case of Rasta’s harassment by authorities is the case of Carols and Dana Jackson.  The Jackson are a Rasta couple that tried to improve their run down West Dallas neighborhood.  The couple bought up run down homes in their neighborhood and renovated them.  During the renovation of the homes they painted pictures of Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie on the walls of the homes.  They grew vegetables and purchased animal to be raised on the area for means of self-sufficient survival. When the couple began to hold Nyabinghi sessions they where sighted for code violations and eventually arrested for possession of marijuana.

            The women in this Rasta community of Dallas Texas seem to be treated much better than Rasta Women throughout of the rest of the Rasta world. Although they are not seen as equals, they are part of the Ganja smoking rituals and are not forced to stay at home like many other Rasta women are throughout the world. This is probably a reflection of the low intensity of the Rasta community of Dallas.  It is also mostly a result of the surrounding that the Rasta woman are in.  The way in which woman are treated in Dallas Texas is much better than how women are treated in Jamaica or Ethiopia as a whole.

            In general, Rastafari culture in Dallas Texas is much less intense than it is in most other parts of the world.  These Dallas Rastas do not seem to have the desire of rebellion that most other Rasta feel.  Many of the Rasta’s are part of the legitimate economy, pay taxes and have legitimate jobs. This is partly because it is very hard for the Rasta to survive in the informal economy in Dallas.  The Dallas Rasta seems to be one of the most relaxed, least rebellious, and least motivated to help bring Babylon down. The reason for this is most likely the level of oppression in the area is much less intense than it is other places. Another reason for the lower level of intensity is the large separation that Texas has from the African world. Texas does have a large population of people of African decent, but these people do not feel the same oppression that black people feel in other places such as Jamaica. A third reason for the low intensity is that there is not a large following of Rasta’s in the area, which would effect how intense their lifestyle can be. Rastafari in Dallas is more of religious movement than it is a social or cultural movement.  In both Jamaica and in Ethiopia it is a major cultural movement.

The Dallas Rasta is much less intense than the Rasta’s of Ethiopia. This does not mean that the Rasta’s of Dallas are not Rasta’s.  What it does show is how Rasta’s can differ throughout the world. This is not different from people of other faiths.  Every religion has people that believe in the religion at different levels. A good example of this is in the Jewish faith. There are Jews such as the Orthodox Jews that believe in the religion to a very strong degree and then there are people of Jewish faith, such as the Reform Jews that follow the religion to lowest degree.  Therefore the Twelve Tribe Rasta’s of Ethiopia could be compared to the Orthodox Jews, and the Rasta’s of Dallas could be compared to the Reform Jew’s.

            Despite the differences that these two Rasta’s cultures have they still share the basic principles of Rastafari. The first and most important of these principles is their love and worship of Haile Selassi I.  Second, they want to fight the oppression of the black man. Third, their hatred of authority and preaching down of Babylon (although this is felt to a lesser degree by the Dallas Rastas). Fourth, their ritual use of Ganja to reach clear thought and to connect to God. A fifth connection is their appearance wearing their hair in dread locks and having unshaven faces. The last and most important connection is their love for the world, and their desire for the unity of man.

            The purpose of this paper in discussing Rasta’s in very separate environments was to show Rastafari in way that shows how broad the faith is. By showing Rasta’s in the their most extreme form, the Twelve Tribes that live in Ethiopia, I was able to show how serious Rasta’s can be.  On the other hand by showing Rasta’s in the much less intense culture of Dallas I was able to show that the religion is not always so radical. The paper also showed that Rasta’s exist all over the world, from Africa to Dallas. The point is Rastafari is everywhere, just like oppression is everywhere.  There is always positive thought (Rasta) where there is negative thought (oppression).