I call this worldview Revivalism from the religion of the same name and argue that the driving force in its formation was their determination to make the best of this new situation on their own terms , which meant resistance to European slavery and colonialism, both physical and mental.
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The data come from fieldwork carried out in and for a doctoral dissertation at Columbia University. As much of the research was in the form of life-history interviews taken from thirty male and female informants, twenty-eight of whom joined the Rastafari movement no later than and two in the early s, it is useful to clarify how the information was collected.
Reggae's sacred roots and call to protest injustice
It first took several months before I was able to find an informant of the s vintage, who then put me in touch with others who in turn put me in touch with their acquaintances, and so on. This method is a form of network approach or what North American scholars call the snowball technique.
As those who rely on this method would appreciate, there were many dead ends. An unknown error has occurred. Here Chevannes traces Rastafarianism back to 's prophet Marcus Garvey and his mass coalition against racial oppression and support of a free Africa. Before Garvey, few Jamaicans, the overwhelming majority of whom had been brought to the island from Africa and enslaved by Europeans, held positive attitudes about Africa.
The rise of black nationalism, however, provided the movement with its impetus to organise a system of beliefs. Likewise, Chevannes explores the movement's roots in the Jamaican peasantry, which underwent distinct phases of development between and as freed slaves became peasants.
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The peasants established themselves in the recesses of the island and many eventually moved to cities, where the economic and social hardship already inherent in Jamaican society, was even more desolate. Between and , detrimental social changes transformed Jamaica's rapidly expanding cities. Kingston's population grew by 86 percent, and crime and disease were rampant.
It was under this severe social decay that Rastafari became a hospice for the uprooted and derelict masses. As a spiritual philosophy, Rastafarianism is linked to societies of runaway slaves or maroons and derives from both the African Myal religion and the Revivalist Zion churches. Like the revival movement, Rastafarianism embraces the year-old doctrine of repatriation.
Rastas believe that they and all Africans who have migrated are but exiles in "Babylon" and are destined to be delivered out of captivity by a return to Zion or Africa - the land of their ancestors and the seat of Jah Rastafari himself, Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia. It should be of interest to religion scholars, historians, scholars of Black studies, and a general audience interested in the movement and how Rastafarians settled in other countries.
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Browse related items Start at call number: BL An early contributor in this field was Count Ossie, who began drumming at Nyahbinghi spiritual sessions and helped develop the style that became known as ska. Later, the movement found its most important ambassador in Bob Marley. A convert to Rastafari and founder of reggae music, the charismatic Marley unabashedly referenced his beliefs in his songs, achieving widespread acclaim in the s through universally appealing themes of brotherhood, oppression and redemption.
Marley toured widely, bringing his sound to Europe, Africa and the U. Meanwhile, the growing popularity of Rastafarianism among people of differing races and cultures led to changes in some of its stricter codes. Modern Rastafarianism A turning point for Rastafarianism came in , when Emperor Selassie died and forced his followers to confront the contradiction of a living deity passing away. In , the movement lost its second major figure with the death of Marley from cancer.
Smaller divisions, such as African Unity, Covenant Rastafari and the Selassian Church, emerged around the turn of the millennium, the same period which brought the passing of longtime leaders Prince Emanuel Charles Edwards and the Prophet Gad As of , it was estimated that there were approximately 1 million Rastafarians throughout the world. Its traditions continue in communities in the U. Attempting to make amends for past transgressions, the Jamaican government decriminalized marijuana in , and in Prime Minister Andrew Holness formally apologized to Rastafarians for the Coral Gardens debacle.
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