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What is the Rastafari Movement?

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Quick Answer

The term "Rastafari movement" is another way of describing the Rastafari religion, which is a Christian-derived belief system that was developed in Jamaica during the 1930s. The religion is named for Ras Tafari, who is known historically as Haile Selassie.

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What is the Rastafari Movement?
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Full Answer

Adherents of Rastafari believe that Selassie is a messiah figure who will someday return Africans to their homeland after the diaspora caused by slavery. As a result of the Rastafari movement, Haile Selassie rose to power as the Emperor of Ethiopia, a position he held until the year before he died in 1975.

In popular culture, the Rastafari movement may be associated with certain iconic elements such as dreadlocks, reggae music, the use of cannabis, and the colors red, yellow and green. However, the belief system is more complex than this. Much of Rastafari belief is based on socially restrictive aspects of the Christian Bible. For example, Rastafari women are believed to be subservient to men and can only practice the religion if called to do so by their husbands. Additionally, there are strong racial elements in the belief system. Rastafari believe that Africa is a promised land, while the Western culture of the white man, known as Babylon, is seen as a hell on Earth from which Rastafari people will be delivered.

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