There is no formal, central organisation of Rastafari. They avoid bureaucratic or hierarchical organisations, which they see as characterising the social structures of Babylon. They reject governments, especially the colonial British government in Jamaica, but after this ended in 1962 they remained opposed to ‘western civilisation’ in general. The organisation of Rastafari is individualised, cellular, or reticulate in its structure. There is an open form of Rastafari organisation called a ‘house’ or ‘mansion’. There is no individual leadership equivalent to a priest among Rastafaris generally, although some of the more structured houses, such as Bobo Shanti and the Nyabinghi Order, do have priests. A ‘leading brother’ acts as spokesperson during group meetings. Houses can have a chaplain, a local treasurer, a sergeant at arms, and a recording secretary; or some of these roles – or none of them. In Jamaica, Rastafaris often follow a communal way of living, patterned on the early Pinnacle communes, where they grow their own food and ganja. Membership is not based on baptism but on adoption of Rastafari beliefs and practices. This provides a broad solidarity of mainstream Rastafari, who largely support the three main Rastafari principles of the divinity of Haile Selassie, the spiritual use of ganja, and the principle of repatriation to Africa. Rastafari are then free to live their lives individualistically without collective discipline. This provides a collective sense of religious identity that is not supported by any specific ritual obligation. Houses strive for collective decision making, reaching a consensus on issues of importance to the group even if this requires extensive debate. Rastafari characterise themselves as a ‘brotherhood’ or ‘brethren’. As there is no formal membership; there is a general ethos of coming, going, and participating solely on conviction.

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