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by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
Rastafarians are a big part of the Jamaican identity. While many won’t admit it, they are held to a high social and moral standard and are easily judged if seen participating in certain activities. Rastas definitely stand out in the Jamaican population and you will more than likely run into them quite often.
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This would have probably led many to believe the Jamaican population has a great percentage of Rastafarians. Rastafarians are Jamaica's largest and most visible indigenous movement.
In the mid-1980s, there were approximately 70,000 Rastafari members and sympathizers in Jamaica. The majority were male, working-class, ex-Christians aged 18 to 40.
In the 2011 Jamaican census, only 29,026 people of the 2,697,983 enumerated were identified as Rastafarians.
Rastafari was founded by Jamaica's Afro-Jamaican majority, and while Afro-Jamaicans remain the majority, Rastafari has gained followers from the island's Chinese, Indian, Afro-Chinese, Afro-Jewish, mulatto, and white minorities.
Until 1965, the vast majority were from the lower classes, but it has since attracted many middle-class members, with Jamaican Rastas working as lawyers and university professors by the 1980s.
Rastas frequently extol Jamaica as the source of their faith, and there are many Rastas living there. Rastas revere Jamaica as the source of their faith, and many Rastas from other parts of the world visit the island on pilgrimage.
A common misconception is that if you spot a person with dreadlocks or “locs” for short, then you have spotted a Rastafarian. Which is far from the truth. For many dreadlocks are simply a fashion statement. So do not be surprised when you visit KFC and see a person with dreadlocks in the line.
The Rastafarian religion is not even the most common religious affiliation on the island; it is a minority. According to the most recent census, less than 1% of Jamaica's 2.7 million people identify as Rastafarian.
Church of God (24%), Seventh-day Adventist (11%), Pentecostal (10%), and Baptist (7%), are the most common religious affiliations. Again, Having dreadlocks does not automatically make you a Rasta! But what you will also find is regular appearing, bald-head men, that practice the beliefs of Rastafarians.
Facts about rastas that might shock you:
Looking to learn more about the way of life of Rastafarians in Jamaica, the Indigenous Rasta village in Montego Bay is a great place to begin. Here is a sneak peak of the experience.
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Rastafarians In Jamaica | Written: August 29, 2022
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