Rastafarians Do Not Say “We” for Plurality
The religious meaning is that a Rastafari is a part of god, at the same time a living man, which is exactly described as an “I” (as the personal pronoun). Because everyone is an “I”, a Rastafari does not say “we” for plurality, but says “I and I”. They often replace some syllables with “I”, like, “eternal” translated into “I-ternal”, “creator” into “I-reator” and “hour” into “I-owa”. The Roman numeric one, which is also I, follows the name of Haile Selassie I, demonstrating the divinity of His Imperial Majesty, Rastafarians believe.
To make this post clear, we suggest several definitions, many of us, marijuana lovers, already know who is Selassie and why the Lion, yet we pack it briefly into this, err, vocabulary:
★ Jah — is the name of God in Rastafarian religion, basically the Abrahamic branch, along with Judaism, Islam and all sects of Christianity. Jesus, Jahvee, Allah, Jah, whatever you call it is still the same “personality” (monoteistic deity) of all Abrahamic religions (or branches).
★ Haile Selassie I — is the last King of Ethiopia, His Imperial Majesty (H.I.M.), the King of Kings, and the central person and the Messiah (second coming of Christ, no less) in the Rastafarian religion. Rastafarians believe he is the direct decendant of biblical King Solomon and Queen of Sheba, therefore a holy person and the deity which they practically worship. And then Ethiopia is Caanan, the promised land.
★ Zion, or Mount Zion — is a biblical place, which Rastfarians have “moved” from Israel to Africa, in their belief. The traditional (christian) definition of heaven has been rejected as a “spiritual place in the sky”, promoting then that the Mount Zion is the “heaven on earth”.
★ Babylon — is every negative aspect of the “western culture”, which Rastafarian religion opposes in the lyrics of ska and reggae, namely: the law enforcement, the government when going mad, sometimes UK, almost always USA, along with specific political leaders including but not limited to Vatican religious authorities, etc, etc.
That’s it, and we continue listing up the rare facts about Rastafarians:
Ska was a pop-version of reggae, called “bluebeat” in England, a mix of jazz and blues, outdated by now and rarely in use, so to say: a precursor of reggea. Developed in 1950-60s as a mild protest against social and political conditions in Jamaica. While sounding happy and content ska rhythmes were about pain and suffering of people of Jamaica under governmental regime, very alike to Reggea but in a softer manner of blues. Ska also introduced Jamaican drumming for the first time, long before the transformation into reggea. Famous ska titles were: “Oh Carolina”, “Another Moses”, “Babylon Gone”.
Female Corruptive Influence
Ska musicians expressed deep personal pain they gain from the political forces, and also (surprise!) the pain from the “corruptive influence of a female”, promoting that the temptation of female flesh eventually leads in general to broken hearts, loneliness and teardrops. Well, this explains a lot the meaning of Bob Marley’s “No woman, no cry”, while being romantic in sound it is practically a desgrace of the female role in a society. Not a popular opinion nowadays. Oops!
There are (at least) two monuments to Judah Lion in Addis Ababa
Historically, the Lion is the symbol of the Judah tribe, and is a symbol of the Rastafarian movement, because biblical King Solomon was of the Judah tribe, which also means that His Imperial Majesty King of Kings Haile Selassie is of the Judah tribe as well. The Lion is depicted in his coat of arms, and there are TWO beautiful monuments to this Lion in Addis Ababa.
One was erected in 1930, on the occasion of coronation of Haile Selassie I:
And another one, comissioned in 1954 by His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I:
Sometimes, the Lion of Judah is called the Lion of Zion. Both are correct more or less.
Some of Rude Boys were Rastafarians
In 1965 in Jamaica the unemployed ghetto youths, 14-25 years old, living in the shanytown of Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica, formed the strong and well-organized rebellion force armed with knives, cutlasses and guns. They became a certain threat to the middle class, looting houses and shops, clashing violently and quite successfully against the law enforcement, living only for “run faster, jump higher, fuck longer” as they claimed. Rude Boys embraced the image of an outlaw hero, and a symbol of new generation opposing to the system which (they suggested) produced the unemployment and poverty in Jamaica. Guess, that for “ruddies” marijuana was not a spirituality.
However, some were pretending to be and claiming they were Rastafarians, adopting the the Rastafarian language, appearance, dreadlocks. Consequently, citizens of Jamaica organically associated Rude Boys to the already existing negatively lunatic image of Rastafari.
Rastafarians in their turn hardly supported any connection to rudies, and denied it simply because they had never encouraged, neither promoted as a valid solution any violent action towards to or suffering for other people in exchange for gaining own liberty. Rastafarians and Rude Boys, both highlighting the identical goals to “fight” povetry and oppression, indeed espoused two radically different ideologies.
Haile Selassie influenced the incorporation of “rudies” into Reggae
While Haile Selassie’s only visit to Jamaica, in 1966, about 100,000 people wer in the airport, it was said, that about only 10,000 of them were Rastafarians, smoking bongs and chanting. The long-awaited Messiah finally arrived on the island. His Imperial Majesty’s mission (among other goals) was to influence the public opinion persuading political leaders of Jamaica that the Rastas could no longer be written off as “dangerous freaks”.
And, at the same exact time, King of Kings has spoken to Rastafarian leaders and proposed a new concept to them — to refuse the idea of physical repatriation to Africa (to the biblical Canaan, the promised land) but replacing it with the idea of political liberation of Jamaica.
Since then — the Rastafarian music, the Reggea, already transforming from Ska to Reggae under influence of R&B, applied to be relatively aggressive and more political. The reggae musicians since then have applied to building the heroic image out of “ruddies” (Rude Boys), demonstrating the virtual alliance between Rude Boys and Rastafarians united from now on against the common enemy, the system that produced unemployment and poverty, the Babylon Evil.
From Ska passive crying Rastafarians slowly switched to Reggea-struggle, the sounds of reggae had changed to the sounds of a society in the process of transformation, religious Rastafarians became also a political power, eventually, promoting rebellion and liberation.
Why Ras Tafari
This is a pretty simple one, no mystics and no magic around. Rastafari worship the King of Kings, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I (of Ethiopia), whose real-world name before being a king was Tafari Makonnen, who was a Duke of Harrar in Ethiopia in his youth as a crown prince, and “Ras” is the word for “Duke” in Ethiopian language. Ras Tafari = Duke Tafari, the ruler of Harrar.
Love is the very idea
The said may call an “agressive image” for the western way of thinking but in reality the Rastarians oppose that western thinking dramatically, they are in reality the silent protesters, and the peaceful rebels, they express their claims and demands exclusively through the music and never mean a violent action. Love and Peace expressing it in asceticism.
We are truly humble people whose response to evil is to flee from itBongo Dizzy says in “Bongo-man”, rastafarian newspaper, 1968
We have to go to Africa to live with our brothers and sisters there. Blacks remember, our King Haile Selassi grant land space for us in EthiopiaRasta Historian, the contributor-writer to “Bongo-man” newspaper, 1968
A curious tweet we’ve discovered just recently, where they suggest Dr. Raphael Mechoulam to be a God-father of THC. He is an outstanding scientist, he deserved, and in this regard let’s mention more GREAT MEN being influencing cannabis culture, cannabis industry, and even religion at times.
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam
Great Man. True Scientist. The Discoverer.
Read more by this link ⇒ Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol
And let us now think this way — Dr. Raphael is the Father of Cannabis in its modern condition with all genetic engineering, breeding, cultivation, fancy techniques for increasing THC for recreational, and decreasing THC for CBD oils or other medical purpose. He started all this. This is out of the question, he discovered THC, isolated, fully synthesised.
But not yet a “Godfather” for Christ’s sake.
Science was often in conflict with Religion after all ))
We have collected few other opinions about the Godfather of Cannabis pretend-to-be…
1. King Haile Selassie, Ethiopia
His name is widely known and widely referred as Haile Selassie, but it was given once while baptising, and before that his original name was LIJ TAFARI MAKONNEN. Sounds a bit Finnish to me because of Makkonnen =) but this is some another royal tradition for naming children, where LIJ stands for “child” showing the young age of the noble blood… After the coronation he became Negusa Nagast, which is simply “King of Kings”… And in the between he had one more title: while his being the Ruler of Harar he became famous as RAS TAFARI MAKONNEN, where RAS means literally “head”, or more equivalent to “Duke”, Tafari is his name and Makonnen is his family name.
Shortly, RAS TAFARI, Duke TAFARI, the Ruler of Harar.
Often referred as follows:
The Almighty, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, His Imperial Majesty Haile Salassie.
I’m not sure about any exact reason but the fact is that Ras Tafari (a.k.a. King Haile Selassie) is now a central person in the RASTAFARI religion. Being another Abrahamic branch, so to say, the Rastafarians faithfully regard the King of Kings, Haile Selassie, as a prophet and as a Second Coming of Christ himself.
They call him also the Almighty, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, and for me personally this is more than enough to bear an unofficial title like God Father of Marijuana.
Heh… Isn’t it too much for a human to be a Second Christ, a Prophet, and a Godfather for the whole smokey world at the same exact time?
2. Robert Nesta Marley, Jamaica
Better known as Bob Marley. I can guess everybody coming to this website heard about who is this man and about his unmeasurable and priceless contribution to spreading the cannabis culture over the planet. When we say reggae or Jamaica, I bet, that the sound which starts playing immediately in the head is actually some of Bob Marley’s music. So spiritual.
Marley: “I would say to the people, Be still, and know that His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is the Almighty. Now, the Bible seh so, Babylon newspaper seh so, and I and the children seh so. Yunno? So I don’t see how much more reveal our people want. Wha’ dem want? A white God, well God come black. True true.”
Read more about Robert Marley: Jamaica, Reggae and Marijuana
But wait, we have one more contester for the role… Ready?
3. Barack Obama
“Marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol.” – already deserve to be a notable fact in history when said by a mighty President. Okay, there is also a history about how the cannabis plants were heavily banned, however in fact this man released the tension a lot!
We are not talking about anything else, we are not that much in politics, but speaking plainly Mr. Obama has changed the legislation dramatically in favour of commercial cannabis cultivation. Many of the countries of the world have followed his cannabis experiments with Colorado and Washington (I think they were always referred as “experiments”?). He started this.
The huge cannabis industry is now flourishing and spreading rapidly over the planet. The huge new market has just appeared with a lot of potential in it, new jobs, new ventures, new cryptocurrencies. And still happily delivering tons of official medical world-class weed all around. It’s also giving fuel to tourism and e-commerce by the way, practically creating a new wave of freedom for the whole culture.
When most people think of Jamaica, they probably think of sun, sea and sand, but there are two other things that come a close second – reggae and marijuana. For generations, the Caribbean island of Jamaica has been associated with reggae music, and also with a thriving weed culture, but how are the three things connected?
The Arrival of Cannabis in Jamaica
Although many countries in the world grow cannabis, none of them have quite such an association with the herb as Jamaica. With its fertile soil and perfect climate, it almost seems as if the island was made for growing marijuana, however it wasn’t actually introduced to Jamaica until the middle of the 19th century. It was Indian indentured servants who brought the drug with them when they were brought to the island to solve the labor shortage problem which had arisen since the emancipation of the slaves who worked on the sugar plantations in 1838. By 1845 the imperialist landowners were facing a crisis with nobody to work the land, and so servants were sent from India to plug the gap. The 40,000 servants brought marijuana seeds with them and planted them in the Jamaican soil, thus beginning Jamaica’s long association with weed.
Ganja Culture and the Imperialist Classes
The word ganja is frequently used to refer to cannabis in Jamaican culture, however the term actually came from the Sanskrit language spoken by the Indians who introduced the seeds to the island. The fusion of African and Indian cultures gave birth to the ganja culture and the lower classes soon discovered the joys of weed, however the imperialist classes disapproved and issued laws to prohibit the herb. 1913’s Ganja Law was passed specifically to target the weed smoking poor who were threatened with a high financial penalty or, alternatively, imprisonment – usually with hard labor.
The Rastafarian Culture
Rastafarian culture originates from the 1930s, and while it is often termed as a religion it is also considered to be a movement. While Jamaican born activist Marcus Garvey was highly influential in the Rastafarian movement, the Rasta leader was Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia who ruled from 1930 until his death in 1974. The name Rastafarian actually comes from his title, Ras (“head” or “Duke”) Tafari, and even today he is revered in Rasta culture. Although the Rasta religion follows the Bible, it is considered to be corrupted, with Ethiopia (or Zion) being the promised land. Shunning the materialism of western society, Rastafarians have their own form of language and their own philosophy. Marijuana is inextricably linked with the Rastafarian movement, being a sacrament in their religion. Reasoning sessions are a key part of the religion during which groups smoke ganja together while communing with Jah (or God). If the spliff is passed clockwise in the group, moral issues and dilemmas are being discussed, while if it is passed to the right, wartime issues are on the agenda. Weed also plays a major role in Rasta ceremonies of celebration, with a grounation or binghi being a Holy day for celebration where ganja is taken accompanied by singing, dancing and prayers.
Rastafarians and the Legalization of Cannabis
For generations, Rastafarians have struggled for their rights to use marijuana and to have the drug legalized in Jamaica, and they have often been injured or even killed in their pursuits of those rights. In the class conscious Jamaican society of the 1960s, the beliefs of the Rastafarians led them to become targets, and The Coral Gardens Massacre was the result. Rastafarians were beaten and imprisoned on the grounds that they were “weed smoking criminals”, and this is just one example of misunderstanding of the Rasta religion. While many people have held the belief that Rastafarians simply sit around and get high with their friends, in fact they base their use of the plant on evidence derived from the Bible. Their belief is that the “Tree of Life” is actually the cannabis plant, and its use is further promoted in numerous biblical passages which mention “eat every herb” and “eat the herb of the field” as well as declaring that “the herb is the healing of the nations”. Far from focusing purely on the pleasurable side of smoking weed, Rastafarians actually condemn using marijuana solely to get high. Instead, it is smoked to reach an enlightened state and to evoke spiritual visions, with prayers being said before its use.
The Importance of Bob Marley
It would be impossible to talk about reggae, weed and Jamaica without mentioning the legend that is Bob Marley. A man who was legendary even during his own lifetime, Bob Marley was born in Kingston in 1945 and was raised in Nine Mile and Trenchtown. During the 1960s, Marley converted from Catholicism to Rastafarianism, formed a band with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer and developed the iconic Reggae sound we know today. The blend of weed and music catapulted him to stardom and he became the first artist from an ostensibly “third world” country to achieve fame in the west during the late 1970s. Known just as much for his marijuana use as for his dreadlocks and guitar, Bob Marley promoted his religion through his songs as well as a message of love and peace which found its niche perfectly within the western hippie movements of the day. It was coincidental that during this era Jamaica was going through a more permissive climate, and with modifications having taken place in the Ganja Law of 1913, fewer actions relating to the use of weed now counted as crimes and imprisonment became no longer a mandatory punishment. The upshot of this was that Jamaican farmers started larger scale exports of cannabis to the United States, albeit covertly.
The Intertwining of Reggae and Weed
When most of us think about reggae music, we invariably conjure up images of dreadlocked, laid back musicians who are puffing on a spliff while playing their guitars. However, ganja and reggae became linked with each other due to this style of music being a way for poor Jamaicans to express themselves, and since they already used herb to gain inspiration and enlightenment, they brought this element into their music making. As disenfranchised artists, they use weed to help them to convey their message, to share their viewpoints and to say what was in their minds and hearts. Not only that, but of course the roots of reggae are also entrenched in Rastafarian culture, with its emphasis on the use of cannabis as a sacrament. While Bob Marley is the best known reggae artist to be upfront about his use of the herb, many other popular reggae artists also use marijuana to help them to meditate before they create music and to help them to find the right vibe and groove for their songs. Of course, not every reggae artist uses weed, and while many reggae musicians, both past and present, do use weed, it isn’t the be all and end all of their music.
Cannabis Outside The Rastafarian Population
Of course, it goes without saying that cannabis is not solely used by Jamaica’s Rastafarian population. In fact just 5% of the population of the island are Rastafarian however around 10% of people in Jamaica use weed. According to experts, Jamaicans begin consuming cannabis at a young age, but usually in tea for medicinal purposes. Many young adults in Jamaica are also exposed to weed during adolescence, as in many other places in the world, and succumb to pressure from their peers, however as they grow into adults their weed-taking habits begin to change, only occurring around their closest circle of friends. There are also many young people in Jamaica who grow their own cannabis plants in order to be able to afford the drug.
Jamaica, Marijuana and Tourism
While Jamaica is already a huge tourist destination, it remains a poor country, with most of the population remaining below the poverty line. With the change in the law regarding marijuana, it is hoped that cannabis tourism will bring more prosperity to the island and to its population. After all, other countries have already benefited massively from cannabis tourism. Amsterdam is one obvious destination which draws visitors from all over the world to its “coffee shops”, however one less obvious destination is Colorado, which has recently relaxed its drug laws and seen a huge boost in visitor numbers. Jamaica is hoping to cash in on this renewed interest in marijuana, and although this new bill forbids smoking cannabis in any public place, it doesn’t necessary mean that tourists will have any difficult in obtaining a permit to purchase and enjoy weed in their holiday resort, rented accommodation or apartment. While the regulations remain strict at the present time, this just gives the country time to create a healthy climate for cannabis growth, and for educating local growers and private companies about the need to invest in Jamaica and its people. Once these conditions are met, it is likely that the legislation will be expanded and marijuana use will be extended even further to the benefit of the entire island and its population.