Reggae’s Sacred Roots and Call to Protest Injustice

Reggae is the musical expression of Rastafari, a belief system of migrants to Jamaica. A popular song, ‘Rivers of Babylon,’ offers a window into their spirituality and longing for their homeland.

Reggae’s Sacred Roots and Call to Protest Injustice

Source: The Wire

By David W. Stowe


Guitarist David Hinds, a Reggae artist. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Who are the Rastafari?
Reggae is the most popular musical expression of Rastafari. It is a belief system that took hold in the 1930s. Rastafari had a impact on poor, rural Jamaicans of African descent. Having immigrated to Kingston, they felt alienated from roots and traditions.
Rastafari emphasizes the connection of people of African descent to Ethiopia. Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey inspired this thinking. He founded the influential United Negro Improvement Association in 1914. He taught that blacks should reject North America by repatriating to Africa.
Garvey preached that blacks were the authentic biblical Jews. Based on his reading of the Bible, Garvey predicted the appearance of a black king and messiah in Africa. Rastas worship a supreme being, referred to as Jah, short for Jehovah.

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