Rastafarianism In the Shadow of “Pan-African” Music Trends

Ghana police or koti if that’s your thing, and Rastafarianism don’t mix well. One has peace of mind, and the other is trying to maintain the “peace” through any means. I first took notice of this whilst overhearing the stories of the police raids of this or that rasta house, always a marijuana violation, and always short on the devilish details of what Rastas were up to (probably just meditating or vibing). But really and truly all Ghanaians know that the police, if they were indeed getting paid fairly, had better things to do. In fact all Africans will agree that the police themselves should be allowed a marijuana break depending on their caseloads and discipline levels. 

A final thing a younger Kweku noticed was that “rastas” as a subculture or “targeted minority” were rapidly becoming a flawed but raw voice of the youth: meaning the dreads, autofista (drop downs), yahoo hustle culture and 50 cent walk finally had a home. This was all before Ye or the more defining song for me: Soke. If you ask any young African man between the ages of 15-25 if they are a yahoo boy or an aspiring lawyer or doctor, first they will look around then ask  what the new moves are.

Get rich or vibe trying

The rastas had the Accra underground hip hop scene in a chokehold, all the nerds were either copying backpack pidgin Skillion rap skills (birthplace of Joey B and pretty much skateboard culture) or we were vibing to Kwaw Kese or Wanlov. By the time I could grow my hair away from the “teachers” and finally have a symbol of my own identity, Kwaw and Wanlov had garnered reputations as “someway”. Now an African man can never be “someway”, that’s the equivalent to a yankee boy acting “brand new” or a london boy acting “moist” (You will notice the relatively cringe affect of UK slang, birthplace of English they say, certainly not a birthplace of much dynamism.) Africa did not have time for my identity crisis and so life went on till effectively, Naira Marley brought the london slums and lasgidi area boys together. The Naija police also did their part for the burgeoning music scene, arresting him, but just as with the koti, we cannot solely blame the police, another more brooding force was taking shape.

Now I always tell my boys, you can either be Maleek Berry or Naira Marley. Sweet like a berry or rough like a Marlian. But not enough shame is placed on the sweet boys. Drake has gotten people touched in clubs allegedly just with one or two hand signals  (you never know with some people, I know the law, clearly these singing ass boys don’t, so do not mind the “allegedly”). Anyway 2016, Berry took over, and we got a lover boy strain of African dread heads, Fireboy DML Is holding that down. But I am not here to reminisce, I am here to dissect the obstacles stopping us from getting a Fela who bows to Selassie. To end this image of dreadheads causing trouble and to connect the Maroons with the Warriors.

“All the things that Hitler was to do so well later, Marcus Garvey was doing in 1920 and 1921. He organised storm troopers, who marched uniformed in his parades and gave colour to his meetings.”

CLR James 

To me, before you touch Selassie, you have to read about, talk about, interrogate and re-investigate Marcus Garvey. A man who sold more newspaper copies than your favourite rapper has youtube views, weekly! A man who’s name reached all over Africa even after the enemy used every toolbook to keep him out. (No one should ever forget that Garvey’s faulty “tax fraud” case was J Edgar Hoover’s major breakthrough, Hoover created the FBI). So Garvey’s name is not to be toyed with.

Too much shame has been placed on Marcus Garvey for apparently saying that Mussolini copied him, just as he is continuously shamed for having one meeting with the KKK (the meeting was a negotiation over how the south could be partitioned). I call this tendency the “Black men can’t do anything right” move. 

Marcus Garvey, a preaching traveller built the first western mass organisation in an alien country and any person with the slightest political integrity can not take that away from him. The anarchists amongst us call Garvey a fascist, it is only because they have no functional concept of African communalism that is not seeped in punk rock family squabbles. 

Indeed Mussolini did copy him, and CLR James himself in his final days stated plainly that WEB Dubois owned the academia and Marcus Garvey owned the mass demonstration streets (do not get me started on Trinidad and Jamaican diaspora beef). So there is no doubt that the major problem facing young African men is the channelling of their energy. Naija no dey carry last, but we are carrying  too many nonsense ideas from the enemy.

Raising these kids

I heard Burna Boy was associated with a shooting because of nyash allegedly and the worst thing in life is when you feel like you have grown past someone you looked up to. This is not “African Giant” behaviour. The details are even more damning; this “guy guy” lifestyle is an obvious case of insecurity. If we have to do fraud there are only two ways ahead of us: Sakawa or yahoo, cultism or spirituality. We either do it to leave the game or we become the old man in the gym, showing moves that are dated beyond belief. 

Rastafarianism is not hooliganism. Hooliganism is a result of Europeans, especially the English pent up aggression due to the isolated and stiffening experience that comes from living here. Men will always have pent up aggression, the job of a functioning society is to direct the energy. Europeans have their ways of doing things, that is why they let us know when it is time to close the taps (they have the power to stop our migration but we have no power to stop their greedy habits). Our job is to look at what we have already done and cut off the diseased and faulty parts. 

Another reason I wrote this article is because Burkina Faso has had a revolution and the people are managing a Sankarist movement whilst defending West Africa from American funded Jihadists (Nigerians and Ghanaians, this is especially our problem because our school system cannot teach us French, in my day they also disallowed us from speaking Twi, I wonder where those Headteachers are now). I saw a video with “One Love” by Bob Marley playing, the crowd beat Glastonbury, Wireless and any other cultural mishmash the West can conjure up. I pray for a day when Lekki Gate will be crowded with Bob Marley and Naira Marley playing back to back.