The Rastafari movement is a "messianic religio-political movement" 1 that began in the Jamaican slums in the 1920s and 30s. The most famous Rastafari is Bob Marley, whose reggae music gained the Jamaican movement international recognition.
There is significant variation within the Rastafari movement and no formal organization. Some Rastafarians see Rasta more as a way of life than a religion. But uniting the diverse movement is belief in the divinity and/or messiahship of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the influence of Jamaican culture, resistance of oppression, and pride in African heritage.
The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one's hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism.
The Arts and Music
The Arts in Jamaica is influenced by "Rastafari ". Some of Jamaica's top artists, poets and writers are influenced by Rastafarian culture. These artists have produced brilliant painting and magnificent wood sculptures in Jamaica vibrant Visual Arts community. Rastafarians pushed Reggae music to the forefront when Bob Marley became an internationally known artist.
Miss Lou was one of the early pioneers trying to preserve Jamaican culture especially 'patois'. Jamaican patios is now sprinkled with 'rasta' terminology. The Rastafarian culture has helped to galvanize the use of Jamaican patois as a means to rebel against a society where the dialect is sometimes looked upon as being "un-cultured". The use of the word "I" and 'I-an-I" is sprinkled across Rastafarian terminolgy and has its roots in the self emphasis which many black people were denied during oppression and slavery. The use of the word Jah (Psalm 68 vs 4) for God which is used by Rastafarians is now used by many Jamaicans. Other examples are the use of the word "babylon" for any type of establishment and "Idren" for children