Though I have to confess that being Rasta these days isn’t so popular compared to the 70s or 80s when it was more common to bump into a dreadlocked guy who was claiming Rasta. A true Rasta had the following as guiding principles.
- They believe in God (Jah) – They believe in the Christian God who they call “Jah” and most of their teachings is based on biblical doctrines which has been modified to be in harmony with the Rasta philosophy.
- They kick against oppression –
The backbone of the Rasta movement is the hatred of the white man’s oppresive attitude on blacks in Africa and diaspora. This later moved to include oppression of blacks by blacks based on social strata or class.
- They believe in healthy living – A true Rasta believes the body is the temple of God and so must not be desecrated or polluted. A special diet called “ital” is a favorite among Rasta men. It consists mostly of vegetables as most Rastas dont eat red meat, claiming it pollutes the body, many replace red meat with fish or white meat. Rasta men also prefer not to eat canned or processed food, seeing it as a product of an oppressive system.
- They believe in growing dreadlocks – This used to be seen decades ago as a Rasta man’s identity as most Rasta men grew dreadlocks. This inspiration is gotten from the story of Samson whose hair was the symbol of his God given strength. And was divinely instructed not to cut it. Dreadlocks also look like the mane of a lion, a symbol of strength and rebellion.
- They believe in an eventual return to Africa –
Before the Rasta movement spread world wide, Rasta men were originally Jamaicans, and Jamaicans where former slaves and decendants of slaves taken from Africa. So it made sense that they yearned to return to the mainland (Africa). According to the Rasta movement Africa will be a Zion or Heaven on Earth which they must all return to. That is leaving Babylon (the oppresive system) to Zion (Africa).
- They love marijuana – The use of marijuana, weed, herb, ganja, kaya or sinsemilla is seen by some as a form of spiritual exercise. It is often used during Rasta Bible study, when in need of inspiration and sometimes for pleasure. Even the most famous Rasta man had these to say,
“Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction” – Bob Marley
“When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself” – Bob Marley
Many others will rather stick to point 3 above, seeing the use of marijuana as a desecration to the temple of God which is the body, so some refrain from its use, hence not all Rasta use weed.
7. They believe in Heaven on Earth –
The Rasta man believes a few chosen good men will live forever in an Heavenly Earth specifically in Africa, they do not believe Heaven to be in the sky or an imaginary place in space.
To be continued…