"And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. Rastafari make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:" Ruth 4:11
I want to open up a discussion on the women who join the Rastafari community through marriage. I am focusing on Zimbabwe, because this is where I am from and this is all I know really.
What I have seen is that there are few women Rastafarians. Very few people have seen them, such that one time I was reasoning with a sister in the city and her hat fell off, ,revealing her locks. Someone exclaimed, "look! A female Rastaman!"
What I have observed is that there are Rastafarian women who join the movement of their own. They read a lot, they participate and find that they are not treated as women by the males. They are like "one of the lads", and most find partners outside the community. As it is the unwritten but accepted convention that a woman gains her husband's rank, ,they abandon the Rastafari faith- at least in terms of outward appearance.
My focus is on those who come in through marriage. Usually, the marriage itself is a difficult one- the average Zimbabwean family will sooner disown their daughter than see her marry anything remotely resembling a Rastafarian. It is a bold step for a girl to leave her family for her man, it means cutting ties with them. Surely, noone should be asked to do that?
Even if they do marry, the woman is seen as the man's weakness. relatives from both sides pressure her to conform to their dictates, even at the expense of her relationship with her man. We are back to the Samson and Delilah scenario, where people would plow with his heifer (Judges 14:18) The amount of scorn poured on Rastafari by virtually everybody else, the denial of dignity, the libel, the slander, the harrassment, the economic and educational discrimination. How much should our women bear?
A lot of the women will not conform to the lifestyle of Rastafari. The reasons are many; Rastafari is not the most fashionable thing today, it is associated with vagrancy, poverty etc. hardly the sort of thing any woman who wants to get ahead in life would associate with.
As it is the Rastafarian community has failed to address this problem. However, I remain convinced that we can address it and that it must remain high on the agenda.
Please, Rastafarians, of the various sects, I would love to hear your input. I would appreciate it if Zimbabwean Rastas also added their voices..
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