Who Is Rastafari
If you’ve ever been to Jamaica, you’ll know that the island is synonymous with Rastafari as a back-to-nature lifestyle and spiritual faith. But what you may not realize is that the teachings of Rastafari are a Christian-based philosophy with deep roots in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The Rastafari movement was born in Jamaica in the 1930’s following the crowning of Haile Sellasie I as Emperor of Ethiopia in fulfillment of biblical prophesy. Rastafari believe that Selassie, a direct descendant of Solomon and Sheba, is the reincarnation of God himself.
Followers of the faith are easily identifiable by their natty dreadlocks, a hairstyle since transcended to global popularity. These spiritual warriors follow a doctrine of anti-materialism, oneness with nature, peace, love, and the all-prevailing power of the Most High Jah Rastafari (God).
Before Reggae music legend Bob Marley appeared on the world stage in the 1970’s, little was known about Rastafari beyond Jamaica’s shores. But the growing popularity of Reggae and Bob –the most famous Rasta of all time and a global icon for peace and love– brought greater awareness of the faith overseas. It is estimated that there are now well over a million practicing Rastafari worldwide.
To bring you an in-depth understanding of Rastafari culture and spirituality, Vibzen has created an immersive, location-based exploration into this unique way of life. Starting with a visit to the Ethiopian Orthodox church, home of the oldest Christian-based religion in the world, it’s then on to the famous Trench Town to “reason” (converse) with the well-respected elder mystic Brother Poli in his vegetable garden.
No contemplation into Rastafari would be complete without a look at Bob Marley’s life. After an authentic Ital (vegan) lunch at Ibo Spice’s “cookshop” downtown, a quick drop in to the museum at 56 Hope Road offers a view into conscious music creation with options to shop for souvenirs or savor a natural fruit juice.
Then it’s off to the foothills of the city to meet with spiritual guide and community leader, Ras Haile Malekot of the Debre Zeit Rastafari Community. An original son of these hills, Ras Malekot holds sway over the village from a delightful little shop front perched on a mountainside. His warm personality and infectious smile belie the religious fervor with which he imparts his teachings as a true oracle of the faith.
-First published by Jamaica Experiences in Jamaica Experiences Magazine, Summer 2017