The Origins Of Rastafari

The name Rastafari, which is derived from Ras, is the title given to Amharic Royalty in Ethiopia and Tafari, which is the pre-coronation name of His Imperial Majesty (HIM) Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1898-1975). A severe depression, racism and class discrimination during 1930 was the perfect environment for the rural and poor Jamaicans to embrace a new religion.

This Poverty and disenchantment in the inner cities of Kingston gave way in the early 1930’s to the black power movement through Marcus Garvey’s “Back To Africa” movement. This movement is what eventually led to the emergence of Rastafari.

In 1930, when Ras Tafari was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie and was given the ancient title given to all Ethiopian Kings ” The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Conquering Lion of Judah”, the prophecy was said to have been fulfilled.

Revelations 5:5 and Ezekiel 28:25 are references used by Rastafarians as proof of the deity of Emperor Haile Selassie. He was seen as the deliverer who would take his people back to their promised land as stated in Ezekiel 28:25. This, however did not happen. Rastafarians compare their exile from Africa via the means of slavery with the Israelites exile to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 25). Hence the word Babylon is used for any system that oppresses. There is also a comparison to the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt before they went to the Promised Land.

Rastafari use references such Revelations 19:16 and 5:2-5 as biblical prophecy to Haile Selassie’s deity.

Here are more Bible verses used by Rastafarians to claim the deity of Emperor Haile Selassie as Savior and Messiah: Revelations 22 :16, Ezekiel 30, Epistle to Timothy, Psalms 9, 18, 68, 76, 87:4, Isaiah 9, Revelations 17:14 (a reference used for his return to Ethophia in 1941 from exile).

Related Articles, Resources and Links

About the author

Staff Writer