What is a Jamaican Rasta-Man?


A Jamaican Rasta-Man, also known as a Rastafarian, is a follower of the Rastafari movement, which originated in Jamaica in the 1930s. Rastafarianism is a spiritual and cultural movement that incorporates elements of Christianity, African mysticism, and Pan-Africanism. It is characterized by a distinct way of life, including a unique style of dress, dietary practices, and beliefs.

Origins of Rastafarianism

Rastafarianism emerged as a response to the social and economic injustices faced by the black population in Jamaica during the early 20th century. It was heavily influenced by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican political leader and advocate for black nationalism. Garvey’s teachings, which emphasized black self-determination and the repatriation of Africans to their homeland, greatly influenced the development of Rastafarian beliefs.

The Influence of Haile Selassie

One of the central figures in Rastafarianism is Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. Rastafarians believe that Selassie, who was crowned emperor in 1930, is the messiah and the embodiment of God on Earth. They see him as the fulfillment of biblical prophecies, particularly those found in the Book of Revelation.

Rastafarian Beliefs

Rastafarians have a set of core beliefs that shape their way of life:

  • Divinity of Haile Selassie: Rastafarians view Selassie as the divine leader who will lead them to redemption.
  • Rejecting Babylon: They reject the materialistic and oppressive society referred to as “Babylon,” which represents Western culture and its values.
  • Importance of Africa: Rastafarians believe Africa is the promised land and that black people should return to their ancestral homeland.
  • Use of Marijuana: The sacramental use of marijuana, known as “ganja,” is an integral part of Rastafarian rituals and spiritual practices.
  • Dreadlocks: Rastafarians often grow their hair into long, matted dreadlocks as a symbol of their identity and connection to their African roots.
  • Ital Diet: They follow a strict dietary code known as the “Ital diet,” which promotes the consumption of natural, unprocessed foods.

The Rastafarian Lifestyle

Dress and Appearance

Rastafarians have a distinctive style of dress that reflects their cultural and spiritual beliefs. They often wear brightly colored clothing, turbans or head wraps, and accessorize with beads and jewelry. The wearing of red, gold, and green, which are the colors associated with Rastafarianism, is also common.

Music and Reggae

Reggae music, particularly the works of iconic Jamaican musician Bob Marley, plays a significant role in Rastafarian culture. The lyrics of reggae songs often convey messages of social justice, peace, and the Rastafarian ideology.

Social Activism

Rastafarians have historically been involved in social and political activism, advocating for the rights and empowerment of marginalized communities. They have been at the forefront of movements against racism, inequality, and injustice.

Rastafarian Symbols and Rituals

Rastafarians utilize various symbols and rituals in their spiritual practices, including the Nyabinghi drumming sessions, the reading of sacred texts such as the Holy Piby and the Ethiopian national epic, and the chanting of prayers and hymns.

Rastafarian Symbols:

  • Lion of Judah
  • Ethiopian flag
  • Star of David
  • Ankh

Rastafarian Rituals:

  • Groundation
  • Reasoning
  • Communal gatherings


In conclusion, a Jamaican Rasta-Man is a follower of the Rastafari movement, which incorporates elements of spirituality, culture, and social activism. Rastafarianism emerged as a response to the injustices faced by the black population in Jamaica, and it is centered around the belief in the divinity of Haile Selassie. Rastafarians have a distinct way of life, encompassing their dress, dietary practices, and rituals. They strive for social justice and advocate for the rights of marginalized communities.

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