Today, the Rastafarian movement plays a major social and political role in Jamaica its place of origin- and on other Caribbean islands. Part of Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey's philosophy (1914-1940) who underscored Negroes social superiority and boosted the movement as a prophecy. Look at Africa, a black king will be crowned because liberation is near. Garvey passed on to Negroes everywhere the belief that Africa was an ancestral land they were supposed to return to.
Rastafarianism got underway during the 1929 Depression, when nearly 20,000 Jamaicans returned to their homeland as their work contracts in Cuba and Panama expired. The drive of this movement kicked off with the coming of three Jamaicans: Leonard Howell, Archibald Dunkley and Joseph Hibbert, who separately started to promote the divinity of Haile Selassie, the crowned emperor of Ethiopia. According to the biblical interpretation, Selassie was God-sent representative on earth in charge of organizing the repatriation of African exiles.

With the crowning of Selassie formerly known as Ras Tafari Makonen- as emperor of Ethiopia in 1930, the first part of the prophecy has come true. However and despite the acceleration of political developments in Africa, the continent's situation prevented the resettlement from Jamaica, and only a sort of spiritual repatriation occurred.
In 1930, the Rastafarian movement was born based on Garvey's ideas. Its political orientation pointed basically to the rejection of the ruling class's ideology. Rastafarianism postulates four basic ideas: repatriation, black superiority, recognition of Jah Rasta (the spirit that they all possess) and historic bonds with the children of Israel.
Rastafarians incorporate a combination of African religions and tales from the Old Testament. They believe to be reincarnations from Israel's lost tribes and that their redemption will happen the moment they head back to Africa led by God (Jah). That will bring heaven down to earth and Negroes will prevail over whites, ultimately their servants. This is a religious and political cult whose followers look not only for a better spiritual stance, but also for subversion, violence and the struggle for power. They are, therefore, divided in two groups: political and religious. Political groups are basically interested in the ways and means to return to Africa, as well as in the way to obtain their nationality. Religious groups, for their part, criticize political ones for being ambitious individualists.
The Rastafarian ideology does not tolerate homosexuality and renders it as unnatural because God made men and women the latter are not prepared to accept the movement's guidelines. Rastafarians are antifeminist pro-lifers who strongly believe birth must be accepted as God's will. They also reject contraceptive means and think a member of their group cannot have a responsible attitude until he begets a child.
On the other hand, they're strongly inclined to ganja (marihuana), widely used in their religious ceremonies and in daily life. For them, this is an element that strengthens the body and the soul. Ganja is respected so much that Rastafarians give it to their newly-born children as a drinkable tea. For them, this is a way to fight off diseases and death. In churches, it's used as God's incense and burned to worship it. They think ganja which is more of a habitual than an addiction drug- is less dangerous than liquor. The fact that ganja consumption is illegal in most country has contributed to Rastafarians bad reputation.
On the other hand, they wear the so-called dreadlocks, hailing from the wild tribes of Ethiopia and Massai. They usually cover their hair with tam caps woven in the colors of the Jamaican flag green, yellow, red and black. For them, these color stand for a great symbolic value. Undoubtedly, their lifestyle singles them out in society to such a degree that they are sometimes passionate advocates of faith esthetics.
Rastafarians form urban communities and farming co-ops where they grow marihuana and vegetables. Many of them are vegetarians, don't eat pork meat and don't drink alcohol.
A huge exploitation and cultural oppression have been the main causes behind, and they combine to make an expression of profound social discontent passed on to through music, the arts, painting and other cultural values.
Thus, one of the most distinctive elements within this credo that has outreached the cultural boundaries is reggae music. At the onset, it was only used in religious ceremonies. However, it then became an expression of discontent and a means to convey social and political ideas among Rastafarians. Due to the success of this musical style in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, Rastafarians got more respect. One of the greatest reggae musicians of all time was Bob Marley, the man who marked a turning point in contemporary music.
Reggae, a religious kind of music that expresses social resentment, usually blasts Jamaica's historic inequalities based on stratification in line with the color of the skin, the negation of the African heritage and the imposition of a Western culture Rastafarian groups refuse to accept. Racial pride, love for the African roots, scornfulness toward whites and brown people stand out in reggae.
Bob Marley put reggae on the map of international music. Back in the 1970s, he recorded an album whose main cuts talked about injustice, racism and black people's peaceful struggle. He was also labeled as the Singer of Hope for the movement and for all those who cannot tolerate an unequal world.
Rastafarianism is a social and religious expression currently ingrained on several Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and others. Its followers committed with a particular creed- stand for one of the countless Caribbean cultural manifestations that wrap up the historical essence of these peoples subdued for more than four centuries.