Bob Marley, the Natural Mystic, the Visionary, the Rasta Prophet, and the Revolutionary, whose rebel music transcended all categories, classes and creed, became an international superstar, a music icon of the 20th century who brought reggae music to the world. Marley actively and devoutly preached Rastafari, incorporating Nyabinghi and Rastafarian chanting into his music and lyrics. Songs like “Rastaman Chant” led to the movement and reggae music being seen as closely intertwined in the consciousness of audiences across the world (especially among oppressed and poor groups from around the world, notably in the African American, Native American, New Zealand Maori, Australian Aborigines and Africans peoples). Marley’s impact and influence cannot be understood without Rastafari, the inspiration that was at the very core of his music.
Rastafari started out as a spiritual expression of the relationship Black West Indians could have with God. It cast off the imposed status quo of the European church and reframed the Caribbean experience as part of a greater global black nationalism. It emphasises ‘oneness’and equality of all personsas the path to lasting peace and harmony and the divinity of Haile Selassie, the King of Kings Lords of Lords Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Most Rastafarians do not claim any sect or denomination, and thus encourage one another to find faith and inspiration within themselves; although some do identify strongly with one of the “mansions of Rastafari”, the three most prominent of these being the Nyahbinghi, the Bobo Ashanti and the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
The Rastafari vision of collective work and responsibility, peace and I-nity with nature, their fellow men and their creator, His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I, King of King Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the re-incarnate of Jesus Christ, has found broad based appeal across all sectors of society around the world. Rastafarians holistic approach to life has become fashionable in mainstream middle-class society looking for balance and spiritual wellbeing.
Some Rastas believe Selassie is God Almighty, some believe he is the second coming of Christ, whilst others believe he is Christ-like, kin to Christ through his lineage. Some read the Bible while others shun it.
Today, it is estimated that there are about two (2) million Rastafarians worldwide, and they are not all Black. From Jamaica to Johannesburg and from Toronto to Tel Aviv, Rastas can be found on every single continent. As Bob Marley, sang Rastas are: ‘coming in from the cold’, moving out of the ghettos and into the mainstream, working as doctors and lawyers, as well as community activists, musicians and artists.