DAY 12: The great debate

Another day at Rasta House In Yeoville, does not sound so interesting especially because I am there everyday and there is nothing really new to report on. But today, today was a great day. While waiting to meet an interviewee, I started to have a Rasta-related conversation with Elder who, by the way, told me his real name Gabriel Yesu Christos. He told me that this is his new name, one which he was given after he got baptised. He told me that it means Server of Christ.

Anyway Elder had to dash off after our conversation about individual interpretations of what it means to be a Rastafari in the modern world. After he was gone I was approached by three other men who told me that all of the things that Elder was telling me about Rastafari were “lies”. They explained that the Rastafari have worked to break away from the western culture and define themselves as African with an African identity, separate from the impositions of Europeans. “He can’t read from the bible and be Rasta, but I guess that is his interpretation of being a Rasta,” one man said. “And there is no such person as Jesus Christ, it’s His Majesty Halie Selassie, who is the Messiah.”

This man, by the way, also did not have dreadlocks although, he is a living Rastafari. I thought that was particularly interesting.

It was explained to me that we are all born Rasta. “If you are African, you are Rasta” but the issue with black people is that we just do not want to embrace the kind of people that we really are, I was told. I don’t know that I agree with that but it has pulled me away from my life as it is to think about it. Being a Rasta encompasses the values and principles you were taught at home as an African, it a lifestyle that embodies spirituality and knowing the self. And not religion, which is a “white man practice”.

This in-depth journey is teaching me that while people may look the same, dress the same and even talk the same, it is not a reflection of what they resemble on the inside. What should be remembered though, (as this final stretch in my journey to becoming a good journalist is teaching me) is that in as much as we may have opinions and convictions we cannot judge the beliefs and the practices of others.

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