Defining Rastafari: A Millenarian Enquiry

By Keesha Shariane Simon-Walker
In ACIJ Research Review
No 5 2009
“When analyzed, the movement, in terms of its beliefs and practices appeared to be of an ancient form rather than a modern movement. By the 1960’s the movement was identifiable with several characteristic traits that could be used in combination to define Rastafari. Consistent with the movement were:

• The ideology that His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I was divine.
• The act of smoking ganja in order to create a mental state conducive to religious worship.
• A return to a more ancient way of cooking, giving preference to products the earth produces in abundance, and partaking of them in their unspoiled state.
• A strong preference for plant as opposed to animal products (pork being strictly forbidden).
• Adherence to the Old Testament laws, particularly as they relate to the role of men and women in society, the menstral cycle of women, unclean food, etc.
• A strong ascription to Ethiopianism.
• Non-partisanship.
• Anti-colonial and anti-white stance.
• Predominance of poor, dispossessed and lime inner-city individuals.
• Drumming, chanting and singing present where ever Rastas congregated.
• Growing of locks individuals as cutting one’s hair and shaving increasingly became forbidden.”