Indigenous Caribbean Religions (Rastafarianism) Essay

2825 words - 11 pages

Rastafarianism is a religious movement born out of the black slums of Jamaica which harnessed the teachings of the Jamaican born Black Nationalist, Marcus Garvey and conditionally uses selective Old Testament Christian writings to support its teachings a

Topic: Indigenous Caribbean Religions (Rastafarianism)

Rastafarianism is a religious movement born out of the black slums of Jamaica which harnessed the teachings of the Jamaican born Black Nationalist, Marcus Garvey and conditionally uses selective Old Testament Christian writings to support its teachings and practices. The religious movement was later fully developed by Leonard P. Howell. Born in 1887, Garvey's influence on the poor black slave descendants in Jamaica came to its peak in the 1920's where his message of encouragement and calling on black people to take pride in themselves won some fanatical supporters. Although historically Marcus Garvey was a political leader interested in making the black race economically equal with the white, in oral tradition he has become a divinely anointed prophet.

With the crowning of Ras Tafari Makonnen on November 2nd 1930 in Ethiopia, many believed Garvey's prediction of a black king crowned in Africa who would be a redeemer and liberator of the dispossessed black race had come to fruition. Makonnen claimed for himself the titles of "Emperor Haile Selassie I, Conquering lion of the tribe of Judah, Elect of God and King of the kings of Ethiopia." Ethiopia holds great significance to Rastafarians who believe in a coming judgement day when the righteous will be called home to Mount Zion (identified with Africa) to live forever in peace and harmony. Marcus Garvey, although no admirer of Haile Selassie, as he observed that slavery still existed in Ethiopia, continued to be revered by the fanatical Rastafarians despite being a Roman Catholic by birth who never spoke out explicitly to support the growing movement.

Rastafarians regard Africa, Ethiopia in particular, as the "Promised Land" of Moses. They also view themselves as the true descendants of David and children of God as defined by the Old Testament. This may be partially due to the traditional belief, that in the 10th century B.C., the kingdom of Ethiopia was supposedly founded by Menelik I. Accordingly, Menelik was Solomon's first son who was conceived by the Queen of Sheba. This supposedly occurred when his mother visited Solomon in Israel. Before she left Israel, 1 Kings 10:13 reports how, ". . . king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants." Some have suggested by interpolation that her "desire" was also to conceive a son by Solomon, the wisest man in the world.

This tradition has some respected acceptance as demonstrated by the 1984 and 1991 airlifts of thousands of...

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