Rastafarians and Buffalo Soldiers

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Rastafarians and Buffalo Soldiers

Instructions: For part 1, use these two websites-Rastafari and Slavery , and Bob Marley, in that order - to answer the following questions. For part 2 , you should re-watch the Buffalo Soldiers music video, look carefully at the lyrics sheet, and will also need to reference your previous work on Buffalo Soldiers. Use a dictionary to look up any words you don’t know.

Part 1: Rastafari and Slavery and Bob Marley websites

  1. For Rastafarians, where is the Promised Land?


  1. In your own words, what is repatriation? (You can consult a dictionary if needed)

Return to your home country

  1. Christopher Hagelin is quoted as saying “Rastafari is a revolutionary cultural reaction to the colonialism, down-pression, slavery, and persistent poverty that has marked Jamaica’s past and present.”

    1. Explain what this means:

Rastafari was created in response to the repression of black Jamaicans

    1. While we may not have a religious movement like this in the United States, what is a social movement that is a “revolutionary cultural reaction” to negative aspects of American culture?

Possible answers include: Civil Rights Movement, fight for women’s suffrage, current activism for gay rights, etc.

  1. How are the founders of Rastafari tied to slavery?

The founders are descendants of slaves, who were brought to Jamaica from Africa

  1. Why do you think it is important for the followers of Rastafari that it “provides a religious context for black people separated from their roots?”

Possible answer: the people felt a need to fill a spiritual lack they felt particularly due to their history of slavery and repression/ this religion is specific to a particular group of people that all have this common experience

  1. Explain Rastafari’s tie to Christianity (make sure you read the whole page before answering):

Rastafari is partially a response to Christianity, the slave-owners were Christian, and some of them did not want their slaves to be Christian as they thought it was for whites

  1. Explain how reggae music reflects Rastafarian themes:

Slavery and oppression are common topics of reggae music

  1. Who was Marley’s Rastafarian teacher?

Joe Higgs

  1. How did Marley’s marriage influence his music?

His wife increased his interest in Rastafarian religion

  1. In your own words, describe how Jamaicans felt about Marley.

(text says as a prophet and a poet) Possible answer: they loved him and felt he spoke for them

Part 2: Buffalo Soldiers music video

While watching the video, makes notes in each column. Be detailed- you may need to pause the video so you don’t miss anything.

What do you see that represents Buffalo Soldiers?

What do you see that represents Rastafarians?

  • Army uniforms

  • Cannons and other old weapons

  • Black and white photo

  • Army camp scences

  • “Volunteers wanted” sign, fades to a campfire

  • Jamaican flag

  • Dreadlocks

  • Clips of Marley and others in a music studio

  • Black men

  1. Why do you think the video goes back and forth between the soldiers and images of Bob Marley and his band in the studio?

To make a connection between the soldiers and Bob Marley/Rastafarians

  1. Look at the “Buffalo Soldiers” lyrics sheet. What aspect of the Buffalo Soldiers history is Marley emphasizing? Why do you think he did so?

Their connection to slavery- the Rastafarians were also connected to slavery

  1. Is this line referring to Buffalo Soldiers or Rastas? How do you know?

“Driven from the mainland to the heart of the Caribbean”

Rastas- Jamaica is in the Caribbean

  1. Is the line “Buffalo Soldier, Dreadlock Rasta” most like a simile or a metaphor? Why?

Metaphor- does not use like or as

  1. Finally, why do you think Marley chose to compare the Rastafarians to the Buffalo Soldiers? Use your knowledge or both groups to be specific in your answer.

They shared a history of slavery, and of “fighting for survival.” The soldiers had to fight in wars but also against prejudice, the Rastas and black Jamaicans also had to fight against prejudice.

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