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Are There Many
Rastafarians In Jamaica?

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Rastafarians In JamaicaRastafarians In Jamaica

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:

  1. Rastas see the divine in everyone, but they have a special reverence for women - mothers who give birth, or 'womb woman,' as she is known.

  2. For Rastas, the Holy Trinity consists of Father, Son, and Mother. The three fundamental elements of the family; three representations in the creation of human life.

  3. Rastas do not consider marijuana to be a drug. Marijuana, a natural herb created by Jah, serves as a means for them to open their minds, increase their spiritual awareness, and elicit enlightenment.

  4. Rastas believe in positivity and the power of words. As a result, Rastas have developed their own language to ensure that positivity is always in focus and negativity cannot even enter your mouth by accident.

    Rastas, for example, will never say "enjoy." A true Rasta will instead say "full-joy" because they do not want to "end" their "joy."

  5. Some deep-rooted rastas never use toothpaste for brushing their teeth. They brush their teeth with baking soda and coconut husk or a branch. Additionally, they do not use soap or shampoo in the shower.

    Instead, they substituted limes for soap and ratchet cactus for shampoo. There are even some tribes of rastas that do not wear shoes.

  6. Rastafarians regard Africa as a paradise on Earth, and the movement's central tenet is that all African diaspora's should return to their homeland. Many Rastafarians aspire to return to Africa in their lifetime.

  7. Rastas believe that one should not cut their hair because it is where their strength lies, according to Old Testament scripture (Leviticus 19:27). Dreadlocks grow organically over time.

Watch Video! Rasta Indigenous Village

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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Return to Rastafarian History from Rastafarians In Jamaica
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References & Sources For Rastafarians In Jamaica

  1. 2022. Rastafari - Wikipedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 August 2022].
  2. Exceptional Caribbean – Exceptional Caribbean. 2022. 10 Important Lessons About Rastas That Will Blow Your Mind. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 August 2022].
  3. Outpostings. 2022. Jamaican Stereotypes and Why They Aren’t True. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 August 2022].
  4. Outpostings. 2022. 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Rastas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 August 2022].
  5. Outpostings. 2022. 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Rastas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 August 2022].

Rastafarians In Jamaica | Written: August 29, 2022

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