In August 2016, I visited the beautiful island of Jamaica.

While the beaches and waters of this Caribbean island are spectacular, it is the culture, people and love of music that sets it apart. The Rastafarian movement in particular runs so deep and strong here, and it was a real privilage to spend some time with these people and understand a little more about their religion.

On first sight, Jamaica and its people can seem a little intimidating. It has a certain reputation for being unsafe and while its true that parts of Kingston should be treated with caution, my trip took me way out west on the island to Negril and its amazing beach.

Negril gets plenty of visitors to the All Inclusive resorts in its West End, but step away from all that, and your immediately thrust into the real people of Jamaica. Many here follow Rastafarianism, and are happy to speak and tell you more if you show interest and treat them with respect they deserve.

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Rastafarian Man at dusk in Negril, Jamaica

We have all heard the lyrics of Bob Marley’s songs, and he was a devout Rasta, along with his band The Wailers. When you take a little time to understand their beliefs the lyrics of the songs make much more sense to the outsider. Rastafarians believe they were origianlly people from Ethiopia who were stolen into slavery and brought to the Carribbean and America’s. While they believe in god, and follow many parts of the christian Bible, they worship Ethiopia’s Haile Sellasie and believe he is their prophet leading them to heaven, which is on Earth, in Ethiopia called Zion. They shun capitalism and the material lifestlye of the West, referring to it as Babylon. Many Rastafarians also are vegetarian and believe in spirits of living creatures. The firmly believe in meditation and opening the mind, by using Ganja or Marajuana, and the air is thick with the smoke of it in many cafes used by local people, where it is legal. Alcohol though is shunned by many Rasta’s as it is another element from Babylon, and shuts the mind to the effects of Ganja.

In my experiance they are beautiful and gentle people, and once the initial wariness about Jamaica’s reputation had receded, it was a real pleasure to sit in their company and learn a little bit about their lives and beliefs. 

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A fisherman bringing in his nets at sunset. Negril, Jamaica

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A Rastafarian on the beach at Dusk - Negril, Jamaica

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Reggae Man - Jamaica

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Bringing in the Fishing Nets at Dusk - Negril, Jamaica

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