Reggae, the music synonymous with Rastafari and its icon. Bob Marley, was created from the blending of African, neo-African, and African-American musical styles. The Rastafaris were chiefly responsible for introducing the African and neo-African elements into reggae music. Linking reggae and the culture of Rastafari to Africa, Mervyn Alleyne argues that reggae, because of its strong connections to Rastafari and its socially and politically conscious lyrics, is representative of the “traditional African fusion of the secular and religious and the symbiotic interaction of religion (including music and dance) and politics.” Janet DeCosmo also contends that reggae can be seen as a modern continuation of social commentary that is expressed in the oral traditions of African culture.
These African elements tend to underscore the fact that some of the Caribbean musical styles have strong links to an African musical past. As Neil Savishinsky put it, “reggae, along with other forms of African-American and Caribbean music, may in fact, represent a kind of ‘re-Africanisation’ process….”
More importantly, however, is the fact that reggae music, in addition to being a powerful medium of communicating the message and spirit of Rastafari, has also provided Rastafaris with a distinct identity. It [reggae] is now regarded as “one of the most essential elements of religious expression and shared group identity”.
Found in Reafricanizing the Caribbean: Black Power and Rastafari Styles.
From: Resistance, Essentialism, and Empowerment in Black Nationalist Discourse in the African Diaspora: A Comparison of the Back to Africa, Black Power, and Rastafari Movements.
By: Simboonath Singh in Journal of African American Studies, Winter 2004, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 18-36.
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