I was reading this article in the Jamaican Gleaner and I thought that the I dem would like fi read it.
EVERY NOW and then the latent ridicule Rastafarians face in Jamaica pops up in the media. It happened last week with a Letter to the Editor, when someone wrote in to say that Rastas should wake up and stop dreaming. Barbara Blake-Hannah replied on Sunday, extensively retelling Mutabaruka's take on the article during his weekly 'Cutting Edge' programme.
I had thought of writing about the exploitation of Rastafari over the past couple months, but had not got around to it. This is as good a time as any; at least it will make some use of the piece of rubbish that person wrote.
As an overwhelmingly Christian society, we have no problem exploiting Rastafarians and at the same time ridiculing and persecuting them. It has always occurred to me when I see the Rasta-based gift items in the fancy souvenir shops, especially in Montego Bay, not one of which is owned by a Rastafarian.
The unofficial national colours of Jamaica are red, green and gold - not original to Rastafarians, but certainly synonymous with the movement. Items in these colours adorn many a gift shop, but Rastafarian employees are in rather short supply.
We also do not have a problem with bringing Rastafarian culture - a very sanitised version of it, of course - to the tourists once they and their dollars are safely in the confines of the all-exclusives. Taking them to the Rastafarian community is another matter.
From the ital food to the music, from the 'dread talk' to the locks, as a society we exploit Rastafarianism to the hilt - while despising those who practise what we profit from.
And we all profit from it. The music of Rastafari is the greatest advertisement that a country could ask for. Nobody can ever quantify how many people have come to Jamaica because of interest sparked by roots music, but I have spoken to sufficient people who became interested in Jamaica because of Rasta music and culture to know that our primary foreign exchange earner clutches onto the locks of the Rastaman.
When Bob Marley's Exodus was named 'Album of the Century' and One Love 'Song of the Millennium', I did not hear any complaints. Yet Rastafarians are still being discriminated against at the workplace and certainly in the injustice system. And we have not even got to products like Rasta Ice yet. Do you think Christian Ice would have been popular?
Does anybody ask the permission of any Rastafarian group before slapping their 'knowledge' on a product? And, having exploited Rastafarianism in this way, do any of the companies who profit from the legacy of the prophets give back a little something directly to Rastafarians? I doubt it. Rapists hardly tend to respect their victims.
I find it amusing that when persons who are opposed to Rastafarians find that they simply cannot overlook the achievements of a particular one they always stick in a 'but'. He is a Rasta, but him clean. His is a Rasta, but him bright. But him skin pretty. But him hair no smell bad. But him look good.
Those 'buts' reveal more about the prejudices of the speaker than any outright statement ever would.
The song brings joy, which cannot be quantified but cannot be substituted.
In so many ways the society enjoys the fruits of Rastafarian labour and never pauses to just say thank you.