Was 'Bobby' Really A Rasta?

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Was 'Bobby' Really A Rasta?

Post by Mary » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:18 pm

Was 'Bobby' really a Rasta?

Published: Monday | October 5, 2009
Garth Rattray
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Barrington Robert 'Bobby' Aldridge wielded a machete and savagely attacked a taxi driver in Papine. Shouts of, 'Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!' did nothing to nullify or even assuage his fulminant anger. Just because he wore locks, they said that he was a Rasta. Would they have called Bobby a Christian if he sported a low hair-cut and a cross around his neck?

It is manifestly unfair and disrespectful to the followers of this peaceful and searching religion to label anyone with locks as Rasta. The misnomer and resultant silence was even more mystifying and disappointing when I recall that, on several occasions, I - a rare visitor to Papine - have seen and heard genuine Rastafarians beating their drums and chanting in the middle of the square. I had hoped that one of the many academics who spent many years studying Rasta-farianism would have spoken up in their defence.

Rastafarianism (a bona fide monotheistic religion) is listed as one of Jamaica's 'other' religious groups (including Hinduism, Judaism and Islam) that, along with some spiritual cults, MAKE UP ABOUT 35 PER CENT OF OUR POPULATION. It was founded in the early 1930s with strong ties to Garveyism, the back-to-Africa movement and Emperor Haile Selassie's lineage back to the line of King David.


Misunderstanding and discrepancies exist within and without this religion. Many Rastafarians are de facto steeped in Christian beliefs and study the Bible in great depth. They, along with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, believe that Jesus Christ was the Saviour and that Haile Selassie was a prophet who shared the lineage of King David. Other Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie is the Messiah and worship him as such.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is wholly and solely Christian. It does not encourage locks and, I've been told that only specially ordained (reclusive) holy men (in Ethiopia) are allowed to wear them. Wearing locks is often a Bible-inspired practice but it is not exclusive to or mandated by Rastafarianism.

Rastafarians are clean, peace-loving, honest and deeply religious people who adore unspoilt nature. So, unless Bobby was suffering from a serious mental disorder, his violent behaviour demonstrated the very antithesis of what the locks that he wore represented. But, Bobby, or someone wishing to disguise him, removed his locks - so much for his outward appearance of being a Rastaman. What are they going to call him now?

So-called Rastafarians

This Papine affair reawakened my chagrin at those who perfidiously align themselves to Rastafarianism to gain popularity in the entertainment industry. Some entertainers start out as 'bald heads' then transform themselves into so-called Rastafarians almost overnight. I doubt that anything about singing reggae kindles an irresistible inner urge to become a Rastafarian. I see this as disingenuous and an insult to the intelligence of our people ... then again, perhaps fans who admire those chameleon performers deserve to be deceived.

Some people believe that looking like a Rastafarian gives them an air of trustworthiness, of coolness and of being culturally authentic. But simply having locks means nothing without the guiding principles of the religion. It is, therefore, extremely unwise to assume that someone is a Rasta only because he/she wears locks.

True Rastafarians do not sing nastiness and they are not violent people. They and their families read the Bible (from cover to cover) and some are even baptised members of their church. I am a Christian who is solidly rooted, comfortable and secure in my religion but, if more people were to follow the precepts of our (true) Rastafarian brothers and sisters, Jamaica would be a far better place.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. He may be reached at garthrattray@gmail.com

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"All GREAT TRUTHS begin as blasphemies."
-- George Bernard Shaw

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