IMAGE COURTESY: UK TELEGRAPH
In case you missed it, Rastafarian members serving in the British Royal Navy will now be allowed to keep their dreadlocks (long hair) and beards as the result of rule changes. The military made these rule changes in order to accommodate Rastafarian culture, specifically permitting members of the community to wear dreadlocks, beards, and turbans (tams). The change followed calls from the Defense Rastafarian Network (DRN) organization to end the stereotypical drug-taking perception of Rastafarians.
Lieutenant Shabaka Kenyatta, 38, the co-chair of the organization and a British Navy officer, suggested that many people tend to link Rastafarians with what they “see on TV’ about drug-taking and marijuana, stating that much needs to be done to correct erroneous public perceptions and myths that surround ethnicity and the use of drugs.
The Defence Rastafarian Network (DRN) was set up in 2017 and comprises almost 300 members from all three services and the MoD civil service. Most come from the army.
Rastafarianism is based on Christianity and can trace a lineage back to the bible. It developed as a religion and social movement in Jamaica during the 1930s and has no central authority, although Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, remains a key figure in Rastafari ideology. It was formally recognised as a religion and culture by the MoD about five years ago and is the fastest growing faith in the armed forces.