The Rise and Impact of Rastafarianism in Jamaican Culture and Politics

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"I Light and I Salvation": The Rise and Impact of Rastafarianism in Jamaican Culture and Politics.

The cries of pain and torture ring through the cold winds and water leaking through the cracks of the urine and feces soaked floor. Stacked side by side and on top of each other, Africans were brought from their homeland to colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

Life made into a commodity to be bought and sold as an animal or machine, born to serve the dominant humans marked by white skin. In this way colonialism as a political entity was created to exploit the earth and its people in order to profit white Europeans. The economic dependency established by the slave trade established a stratified socio-economic hierarchy based on racism. The inequities inherent in this system caused the exploitation of less powerful resources to be established as the means of economic growth and prosperity throughout colonialism. The lack of representation of the oppressed black majority brought about a series of uprisings against colonialism. In Jamaica the Rastafarian movement brought to the forefront the pressing issues of deprivation upheld by the socio-economic structure of the island. The ideology of Rastafarians instilled personal liberation and autonomy at the time of Jamaican Independence, helping the population deal with decolonization. This paper will deal with the implications of this thesis throughout the history of Jamaica from the colonial to post Independence years (1962-1980). The rise of Rastafarianism can be seen in response to the history of inequity of colonialism. The mentality of humanization upheld in Rasta acted as force of mental liberation. The influence of this ideology upon society around the time of Independence was reflected in politics of the time. At the time of Independence serious historical issues of lack of representation of the black majority were articulated in the words and works of Rastafarians and their liberating ideology.

Colonialism in Jamaica established a lasting social and economic hierarchy that benefited the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The colonization of Jamaica began with the Spanish occupation of the island in the early 1500’s. The Spanish set up small-scale plantations on the island, while focusing on piracy as the key to profit. The Spanish effectively committed genocide upon the native Arawak population by the time English gunboats won the rule of Jamaica from the Spanish armada in 1655. The British immediately increased the slave trade in order to establish a thriving plantation economy (Lake, p.
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