Community Support

The individualism of Rastafari is balanced by an ethic of unity. This is a way of bringing Rastas together for communal purposes. All black people are thought to descend from common ancestors in Africa that were separated by slavery. Rastas act as self-conscious members of a brotherhood and sisterhood, sharing with each other, especially amongst the poor. They call each other ‘brethren’ and ‘sistren’ to emphasise spiritual kinship. They emphasise the kinship of humanity under the fatherhood of Jah. Spiritual brotherhood does not necessarily mean racial exclusivity, however, although black supremacy is an aspect of the Rastafari movement. Rastas as brethren try to work together to harness individual spiritual power and create a positive, life-affirming philosophy for self and community. One way this is done is through one-to-one teaching by brethren and sistren, summed up in the phrase “each one teach one”. State education is seen as indoctrination in the colonial or post-colonial system, called ‘head-decay-shun’. Camps and yards are centres of learning the Rastafari way of seeing the world.

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