Humans are social beings and in most cases, need to be surrounded by people they can call their own. This could be in the form of a family, clan, village, social group and even gangs. In some cases, people breakaway from the bigger communities to form smaller groupings, were they feel comfortable enough to share and live according to their personal beliefs and ideologies. Some of the most common of these groups around the world with a distinct way of life are: the Rasta, the Mennonite, the Buddhist, the Pygmies, and Amerindians.
Also known as Rastafari religion, is an Ethiopian-Hebrew inspired spirituality that developed in the 1930s in Jamaica. The members of this religion are called Rasta or Rastafari. The name Rastafari stems from Haile Selassie’s pre-coronation name “Ras Tafari”, who is considered as the “JAH”, the god of the religion. The religion was promoted by Marcus Garvey, who encouraged self-awareness among the Africans in the Americas in the 19th century. The followers of this religion believe that Haile Selassie was the christian messiah who was sent back to earth, which made them to believe that Jesus and God are black and are descendants of Africa. The Rastafarians have their own language commonly known as “Dread-talk” “Rasta-talk” or “I-talk”
They also have a special diet, which exempts them from consuming any form of meat or fish. This is because they relate meat and fish to death and is not worthy of the human body, considered as the Rastafari temple. They are also prohibited from consuming alcohol. Most Rastafarians consume marijuana, popularly called “ganja”. There are thousands of Rastafarians in the world today, but most of them do not follow the rules of the religion. Most of them just use the opportunity to consume drugs and grow dread-locks.
Mennonites, also called Ana-Baptists are a group of Christians that formed in the 16th century during the Protestant reformation. The denomination is named after Menno Simons of Friesland, a catholic Priest who eventually left the Catholic Church to become a re-baptiser because he had begun to doubt their teachings. Mennonites are found in many parts of the world, with the largest populations in America and Canada. The Mennonite denomination has a lot in common with other Christian denominations; they believe in the teachings of the Bible and that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save humanity. They use water during baptism to cleanse themselves and pledge to follow Jesus Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit. Baptism to them is also a sign of commitment to membership and service to a particular congregation.
Mennonites’ fashion sense discourages indecent dressing, for both men and women. The members of the more conservative congregation are not allowed to wear revealing dresses, no jewellery, (not even wedding rings). Divorce is forbidden among the Mennonites, and every man is allowed to marry only one wife. They discourage dating and sex before marriage. Alcohol and drug consumption are prohibited. Mennonites are strong promoters of peace, justice and non-resistance.
“Do not follow what others do but learn listen to the voice within yourself” (Zen Master Dogen). Buddhists are adepts of Buddhism, a religion that capitalizes in the achievement of personal spiritual development and an understanding of the true meaning and nature of life. Buddhist do not believe in a personal god. They all believe that nothing is permanent and that change is always possible. They achieve “Enlightenment” through the practice of morality and meditation. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, which makes life endless. Buddhists strive to follow the footsteps of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha or the Awakened-one, after finding the part of enlightenment, thereby freeing himself from pain and suffering. It worth noting that Buddhism is about 2500 Years old and is one of the main religions in Asia. It has two official sects; Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. To fully adopt a Buddhist way of life, one must abide to the five precepts of the religion, which are; do not kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, lie and do not over indulge in any mind altering substances such as drugs or alcohol
Pygmies are a part of any human groups whose adult males do not grow pass 150cm. Most pygmies are found in the tropical regions of Africa and some parts of Asia. Pygmies live in small groups and depend mostly on hunting and gathering as a means of livelihood. The most famous pygmy groups are found in Congo Kinshasa, (living in the Ituri forest) and in the eastern region of Cameroon. Pygmies still lead the primitive life. With no form of money, they practice trade by batter, by exchanging the products they hunt and gather in return for their needs. While the men go out daily to hunt, the women fish and build the bamboo cottages they live in. Polygamy is not forbidden among the pygmies, but it is rare to see a man with more than one wife. Their children are given an informal education, the young men follower their fathers to hunt while the girls stay back to learn from their mothers.
The Amerindians, also known as the Native Americans are considered as the first people to settle in America, long before the Europeans explorers. Their lifestyles were defined by the climate and their surroundings. They practiced aquaculture and agriculture, hunting and gathering. The traditional Native American married early, between the ages of 15 and 20 for boys and 13 and 15 for girls. They lived together as clans, with common relatives and ancestors. Their clothes were made from animal skin and they used bird feathers to decorate their heads. Today, the native Amerindian way of life, culture, tradition and beliefs are considered primitive. As a result of modernisation, these practices are quickly dying out, especially in the civilized parts of America. Nevertheless, those in the amazon forest still abide by the ancient rules, culture and tradition.
As William Cowper says, “variety is the spice of life that give it all its flavour”. Apart from humans born into a particular group, way of life or religion, everyone is free to choose to belong to any human groupings where they feel accepted, comfortable and find meaning in life.
article from the redaction of AFRIC
- Encyclopaedia Britannica