Rasta for right

Pére Jah

Rastafarians in Benin gain power and a Rasta greeting among the young is as common as the French greeting with sharing kisses on cheeks or the Russian hand shake. But of course, everybody knows what a real Rasta should be like and acts in accordance to his beliefs, taking others as a bit unfortunate followers of the lifestyle.

Just like that, the Abomay Rasta family believed that emphasizing one’s looks and having dreadlocks don’t make you a Rasta at all. Rastafarianism is in your way of thinking and living. This is why they kept talking about the positive way of life and the ability to reach god through a plant, at the same time playing the drums.

Ouidah’ Rastas, taking Chaka as an example, expressed their belief through home graffiti, they wrote Bob Marley or Rastaman so big it covered the walls. However, the music came from a crackling CD and through the plant they got connected not only with the god but with a number of beneficial clients.

But in Benin there’s also Famille Jah, a Rasta family who declare themselves founders of a new movement and this is the reason why some other communities are disturbed: what gives them the right to believe that they are the utmost Rastas of all?

Having a discussion over it, Chaka answered as usually: Why do you ask from me, I’ll take you to them. And once again we were standing behind a new door, a dictophone in our hands, ready to ask some questions.

Jah-family repatriated from Guadelupe to Benin about ten years ago and started living here in the spirit of Panafricanism and spreading their beliefs.

By now they’ve built their own living quarters and a school by the lake, natural economy is what they rely on. Virtually everything they have on the table is from their vast gardens where in the plant avenues there are signs depicting names that are historically important for the Rastas, the flowers combine a map of Africa. “Madagascar included,” Father Jah specifies.

Father Jah asks us to repeat: Africa sans frontieres and explains how Africa should be a unified state. Africa is the birthplace of people and it should be kept and loved as a whole. Although the Bible talks about the Garden of Eden, we all know that it’s Africa it’s really talking about. Why should we have the frontiers that bring anger and wars if we could share the opportunities and produce what Africa has to offer?

Why should we export to Europe if all African states should cooperate? The god has given the humankind agriculture and real Rastafarians should aim for it again. This is the sacred mission of Rastas.

Father and Mother Jah are presumably in their seventies already, and when looking at them one can see they haven’t had their hair cut for ages. Because when people were born there were no hairdressers in the world, there were no cut hairdos and not even scissors. Valuing the natural way of life they see no point in limiting their looks.

Being close to nature is the key phrase they sing to their children and what they pass on in their school. Agricultural works and learning handicraft occupies most of the time the children have, they can even make a coffee pot out of a tree from their back yard.

We listen to Father Jah and take a bite of soya cake and a sip of soya milk.

„You don’t eat meat, do you?“ he asks just in case. „Nobody has a right to kill an animal,” he stresses while pointing his finger. This sentence starts echoing in my ears a few days later when we meet the White Mage.