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Moroccan Rastafarians


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Mavra Lefebvre



Rastafarianism, a religious and cultural movement that originated in Jamaica in the 1930s, has found a unique following in Morocco. This small North African country, known for its rich history, vibrant diversity, and stunning landscapes, has become home to a growing community of Moroccan Rastafarians. The fusion of Rastafarian beliefs and practices with Moroccan culture has created a distinctive subculture within the country.


The origins of Rastafarianism can be traced back to the teachings of Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican political leader and activist. Garvey’s message of black empowerment and liberation resonated with many Jamaicans, eventually giving rise to Rastafarianism as a spiritual movement. Rastafarians believe in the divinity of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, whom they regard as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.


In Morocco, the influence of Rastafarianism can be observed in various aspects of daily life, from fashion and music to spirituality and activism. Moroccan Rastafarians, often referred to as “Rastas,” embrace a holistic lifestyle based on principles such as natural living, spiritual consciousness, and social justice. They express their beliefs through their unique style, including the iconic dreadlocks, vibrant attire, and accessories like the Rastafarian colors of red, gold, and green.


The Moroccan Rastafarian community is a diverse mix of locals and expatriates from various backgrounds. Many Moroccans have been drawn to Rastafarianism as a means of reconnecting with their African roots and breaking free from societal norms. For others, it serves as a form of resistance against the dominant culture and a way to express their individuality.


One of the key factors that contributed to the growth of Rastafarianism in Morocco is the prevalence of reggae music. Reggae, with its powerful lyrics and uplifting rhythms, serves as a powerful medium for spreading the Rastafarian message of love, unity, and social change. Moroccan Rastafarians are not only avid consumers of reggae music but also actively involved in the local reggae scene, organizing concerts, festivals, and cultural events.


However, the Moroccan Rastafarian community has faced its share of challenges and persecution. Due to their appearance and non-traditional beliefs, Rastafarians often encounter discrimination and misunderstanding from both society and authorities. The police closely monitor their activities, and their gatherings are sometimes subject to scrutiny and harassment.


Despite these challenges, Rastafarianism continues to make an impact on Moroccan society. The movement’s emphasis on social justice, environmental awareness, and spiritual enlightenment resonates with many Moroccans who see it as a pathway to personal growth and social change.


In this article, we will delve deeper into the origins, beliefs, and practices of Moroccan Rastafarians. We will explore the cultural impact of Rastafarianism in Morocco, as well as the challenges faced by the community. Join us on this journey as we explore the fascinating world of Moroccan Rastafarians and their unique blend of spirituality and culture.


Origins and History of Rastafarianism in Morocco

The roots of Rastafarianism in Morocco can be traced back to the 1960s, when the country experienced a wave of cultural and political awakening. Inspired by the global movements for civil rights and black liberation, a small group of Moroccans started embracing Rastafarianism as a means of expressing their African identity and challenging societal norms.


At the heart of Rastafarianism is the belief in the divinity of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. This belief gained prominence in Jamaica when Haile Selassie visited the country in 1966. The news of his visit spread worldwide, and it had a profound impact on black communities around the globe, including Morocco.


Moroccan Rastafarians saw Haile Selassie as a symbol of African pride, resistance against oppression, and spiritual enlightenment. They embraced the principles of Rastafarianism, such as the rejection of Babylon (a metaphor for the oppressive system) and the pursuit of natural living, spiritual consciousness, and social justice.


Over the years, the Moroccan Rastafarian community has grown, attracting both Moroccans and expatriates who are captivated by the movement’s philosophy and way of life. Many Moroccans, especially those of African descent, see Rastafarianism as a way to reconnect with their African roots and reject the Eurocentric ideals imposed on them by colonialism.


The presence of Rastafarian communities in Moroccan cities like Casablanca, Marrakech, and Essaouira has helped foster a sense of solidarity and belonging. These communities provide a support system for Moroccan Rastafarians, offering a space to gather, share experiences, practice their faith, and celebrate their culture.


While Morocco generally allows for religious freedom, Rastafarianism has faced some challenges in the country. The movement’s non-traditional practices and appearance have made Rastafarians the subject of scrutiny and misunderstanding. They are often mistaken for drug users or associated with negative stereotypes.


Despite these challenges, the Moroccan Rastafarian community remains resilient. They continue to organize events, such as reggae concerts and cultural festivals, to spread their message and promote unity and awareness. Additionally, Moroccan Rastafarians actively participate in social and environmental initiatives, advocating for issues such as racial equality, environmental sustainability, and human rights.


Overall, the origins and history of Rastafarianism in Morocco reflect the universal appeal of the movement’s ideology of spiritual liberation, cultural pride, and social change. Moroccan Rastafarians have found solace and inspiration in their faith, using it as a means of personal growth, cultural expression, and resistance against societal norms. Their presence enriches Morocco’s diverse cultural landscape and contributes to the ongoing dialogue on identity, spirituality, and social justice.


Beliefs and Practices of Moroccan Rastafarians

The beliefs and practices of Moroccan Rastafarians are deeply rooted in the principles of Rastafarianism while incorporating elements of Moroccan culture. Rastafarianism, as a spiritual movement, promotes a way of life centered around natural living, spiritual consciousness, social justice, and African pride.


At the core of Moroccan Rastafarian beliefs is the reverence for Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. Rastafarians regard him as the messiah, the living incarnation of God on Earth. They see him as a symbol of African greatness and the liberation of black people from oppression. Rastafarians often refer to him by the honorific “Jah,” short for Jehovah, which reflects their belief in his divine status.


Another central belief of Moroccan Rastafarians is the rejection of Babylon. Babylon represents the corrupt and oppressive system that enslaves humanity. Rastafarians strive to disconnect from Babylonian influences by living a natural and conscious lifestyle. This includes adhering to a vegetarian or Ital diet, which consists of natural and unprocessed foods, and embracing sustainable and eco-friendly practices.


Dreadlocks are commonly associated with Rastafarianism. For Moroccan Rastafarians, growing and wearing dreadlocks is a symbolic representation of their commitment to their faith and African identity. They believe that by letting their hair grow naturally, they are embracing the intrinsic vitality and strength of the African diaspora.


In addition to their distinctive appearance, Moroccan Rastafarians express their beliefs through music, specifically reggae. Reggae music serves as a powerful tool for spreading the Rastafarian message of love, unity, and social change. Rastafarians in Morocco, both as musicians and avid fans, actively contribute to the local reggae scene. They organize concerts, festivals, and cultural events that celebrate reggae music and its inherent spiritual and activist values.


Spirituality plays a significant role in the lives of Moroccan Rastafarians. They engage in meditation, prayer, and communal gatherings to foster a stronger connection with Jah and seek spiritual enlightenment. These gatherings, often called “reasonings,” involve discussions on Rastafarian philosophy, African history, social issues, and personal growth. Reasonings provide a space for Moroccan Rastafarians to share their experiences, exchange knowledge, and nurture a sense of community.


Furthermore, Moroccan Rastafarians are actively involved in social and environmental activism. They advocate for racial equality, human rights, and environmental sustainability. Rastafarians organize community initiatives aimed at supporting marginalized groups, promoting education, and preserving the natural beauty of their surroundings.


Overall, the beliefs and practices of Moroccan Rastafarians reflect a deep commitment to spiritual consciousness, African heritage, social justice, and environmental stewardship. Through their unique blend of Rastafarian principles and Moroccan cultural influences, they contribute to a vibrant and diverse tapestry that enriches both the local and global Rastafarian community.


Rastafarianism and Reggae Music in Morocco

Reggae music and Rastafarianism share an inseparable bond, and this connection is evident within the Moroccan Rastafarian community. Reggae, with its infectious rhythms and heartfelt lyrics, serves as a powerful vehicle for spreading the messages of love, unity, and social change that Rastafarianism embodies.


Reggae music first gained popularity in Morocco in the 1970s, thanks to the international success of artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Their music resonated with Moroccans, transcending language and cultural barriers, and inspiring a generation of young people to explore Rastafarianism and its messages of empowerment.


Since then, the reggae music scene in Morocco has grown and flourished. Moroccan Rastafarians, both as musicians and fans, have played a vital role in cultivating this vibrant musical culture. They have formed bands, organized concerts, and established dedicated spaces for reggae music gatherings.


The reggae concerts and festivals organized by Moroccan Rastafarians attract both local and international reggae artists, providing opportunities for cultural exchange and celebration. These events serve as a platform for Rastafarians and reggae enthusiasts to come together, share their love for the music, and embrace the Rastafarian philosophy of love, peace, and social justice.


Besides the recreational aspect, reggae music is also a means of raising awareness about social issues and promoting activism. Moroccan Rastafarians use reggae as a powerful tool to shed light on societal injustices, such as racism, poverty, and political corruption. Through their lyrics, they address pressing issues faced by Moroccan society and inspire listeners to take action and strive for positive change.


Reggae music has had a profound impact on Moroccan culture as a whole. Beyond the Rastafarian community, it has become a part of the mainstream music scene and is embraced by a wide audience. Many Moroccan artists have incorporated reggae elements into their music, reflecting the influence and acceptance of this genre in the country.


Notably, Moroccan reggae bands and musicians have emerged, infusing reggae with their own cultural influences and creating a unique fusion sound. They incorporate traditional Moroccan instruments, melodies, and lyrics into their reggae compositions, showcasing the diverse musical landscape of the country and the blending of cultures.


Overall, the relationship between Rastafarianism and reggae music in Morocco is a symbiotic one. Reggae serves as a powerful tool for Moroccan Rastafarians to express their beliefs, spread the messages of their faith, and foster unity and activism. At the same time, reggae music has found a home within the Moroccan cultural landscape, inspiring musicians and resonating with audiences from all walks of life.


Challenges and Persecution faced by Moroccan Rastafarians

The Moroccan Rastafarian community faces a range of challenges and forms of persecution due to their distinct appearance, non-traditional beliefs, and association with reggae music. These challenges stem from misconceptions, societal prejudices, and a lack of understanding about Rastafarianism.


One of the main challenges that Moroccan Rastafarians encounter is discrimination. Due to their unique style, including their dreadlocks, vibrant attire, and accessories, they often face judgment and stereotypes. Rastafarians are sometimes mistakenly associated with drug use or criminal activity, leading to discrimination in various aspects of life, such as employment, housing, and social interactions.


The Moroccan authorities also closely monitor the activities of the Rastafarian community. Rastafarian gatherings, known as “reasonings,” are sometimes subject to scrutiny and harassment. Police may question and even detain Rastafarians without just cause, assuming their non-traditional practices are a threat to societal norms.


Moreover, Rastafarianism challenges the religious and cultural norms prevalent in Moroccan society, making it difficult for the community to gain acceptance. Rastafarians often face rejection and isolation from their families, communities, and even religious institutions. The misconceptions surrounding their faith and the stereotypes associated with Rastafarianism amplify these challenges.


Despite these hardships, Moroccan Rastafarians remain resilient and continue to pursue their beliefs and cultural practices. They navigate these challenges by building a strong sense of community and supporting one another. Through their gatherings, events, and initiatives, they create spaces of acceptance, understanding, and empowerment.


Moreover, Moroccan Rastafarians actively educate and raise awareness about their faith, engaging in dialogue with members of society to break down stereotypes and bridge the gaps in understanding. They participate in public discussions, cultural festivals, and community initiatives, advocating for their rights and fostering a more inclusive society.


While progress has been made in recent years, there is still much work to be done to combat the discrimination faced by Moroccan Rastafarians. Efforts to promote intercultural dialogue, educate the public about Rastafarianism, and challenge stereotypes are crucial to creating a more tolerant and accepting society.


Additionally, engaging with authorities and advocating for religious freedom and equal rights is important for protecting the rights of Moroccan Rastafarians. By highlighting the contributions and positive aspects of Rastafarian culture, there is an opportunity to foster mutual respect and understanding between the Rastafarian community and Moroccan society as a whole.


As Morocco continues to evolve and embrace diversity, it is imperative that the challenges and persecution faced by Moroccan Rastafarians are acknowledged and addressed. Only through open-mindedness, education, and inclusivity can the Moroccan Rastafarian community be fully recognized and appreciated for their unique contributions to the cultural fabric of the country.


Cultural Impact and Integration of Rastafarianism in Moroccan Society

Rastafarianism has made a significant cultural impact in Moroccan society, despite the challenges faced by the Rastafarian community. The integration of Rastafarian beliefs, practices, and aesthetics has influenced various aspects of Moroccan culture, including fashion, music, language, and activism.


One notable way in which Rastafarianism has influenced Moroccan culture is through its distinctive fashion. The iconic dreadlocks, vibrant attire, and accessories like the colors red, gold, and green have become symbols of Rastafarian identity and African pride. These elements have been adopted by individuals outside of the Rastafarian community, contributing to a broader cultural shift in fashion trends and expressions of personal style.


Rastafarianism’s impact on the music scene in Morocco cannot be overstated. Reggae music, the primary musical genre associated with Rastafarianism, has garnered a dedicated following. Moroccan musicians, both Rastafarians and non-Rastafarians, have embraced reggae as a means of expressing their creativity and advocating for social change. This fusion of reggae with traditional Moroccan sounds and rhythms has resulted in a unique blend that showcases the cultural integration and artistic innovation fostered by Rastafarianism.


Language and verbal expression have also been influenced by Rastafarianism in Morocco. Rastafarian lexicon, with its distinctive vocabulary and phrases, has permeated popular Moroccan culture, particularly among the youth. Words like “Jah,” “Irie,” and “Babylon” are commonly used in informal conversations, reflecting the impact of Rastafarianism on colloquial language and expressions of identity.


Furthermore, Rastafarianism has played a role in fostering a culture of activism and social awareness in Morocco. The values of social justice, equality, and environmental sustainability inherent within Rastafarianism have resonated with individuals across different communities. This has led to an increased focus on human rights issues, racial equality, and environmental protection within Moroccan society.


Perhaps one of the most significant cultural impacts of Rastafarianism in Morocco is the emphasis on African pride and reclaiming African heritage. Rastafarianism has provided a pathway for Moroccans, particularly those of African descent, to reconnect with their African roots and challenge the Eurocentric ideals imposed on them by colonialism. It has sparked a resurgence of interest in African history, traditions, and spirituality, promoting a sense of pride and cultural revival.


While the integration of Rastafarianism into Moroccan society is still an ongoing process, it is evident that the movement has left an indelible mark. The cultural impact goes beyond the Rastafarian community, influencing fashion trends, music scenes, language usage, and activism. Moroccan society continues to evolve, embracing Rastafarianism as a part of its diverse cultural landscape and recognizing the contributions it makes to the country’s cultural and social tapestry.



The presence and influence of Rastafarianism in Morocco cannot be denied. Despite the challenges faced by the Moroccan Rastafarian community, their beliefs, practices, and cultural expressions have made a lasting impact on the nation’s cultural fabric.


Rastafarianism in Morocco is a fusion of Jamaican roots and Moroccan cultural influences. The movement’s principles of spiritual consciousness, natural living, social justice, and African pride resonate with many Moroccans who seek alternative forms of spirituality and a connection to their African heritage.


Reggae music, with its powerful messages of love, unity, and social change, has been instrumental in spreading the Rastafarian philosophy throughout Morocco. Moroccan Rastafarians, both as musicians and fans, contribute to the vibrant reggae music scene in Morocco, organizing concerts, festivals, and cultural events that celebrate the power of music to inspire and enact positive change.


The Moroccan Rastafarian community navigates challenges such as discrimination and misunderstanding by building a sense of community and advocating for their rights. They actively engage in social and environmental activism, using their faith as a catalyst for positive action and grassroots initiatives.


Rastafarianism has left an indelible mark on Moroccan culture, influencing fashion trends, language usage, music scenes, and activism. It has sparked conversations about African pride and identity, challenging societal norms and promoting cultural appreciation and diversity.


As Morocco continues to evolve, it is important to create an inclusive society that embraces diverse faiths, beliefs, and cultural expressions. Recognizing and appreciating the contributions of the Moroccan Rastafarian community is crucial for building a tolerant and understanding society that respects individual freedoms and promotes social harmony.


In conclusion, the presence of Rastafarianism in Morocco represents a cultural intersection between Jamaican roots and Moroccan traditions. The movement’s beliefs, practices, and cultural expressions have left an indelible impact, fostering a sense of community, inspiration, and activism. By embracing the teachings and cultural richness of Rastafarianism, Morocco continues to build a more inclusive society that celebrates diversity and encourages dialogue, understanding, and unity.