01.02.2009 Feature Article


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If there's anything i wished i had inherited from my mother, it would be her retentive memory. It is amazing how events and conversations indelibly remain in her mind. I have always enjoyed hearing her tell me tales of my life as toddler, family stories, politics of the 60s and 70s, and important and not too important events of yester year.

Last year when i called her to announce to her that i had secured admission to study law at Strathclyde University, one of the topmost universities in the UK for the study of law, she burst into a pearl of laughter and asked whether I wasn't the one who once said “lawyers were liars?”

I gave her my favorite line – “it's only a fool who doesn't change her mind” and went about explaining the various specialization of law and how honest lawyers are. For many lawyers, it is the quest for a just society and adherence to the provisions of our laws to ensure equity and justice in this world of upheaval that got them practicing in the first place and without lawyers, the mess in our societies would be incalculable. My mother was so surprised to hear some lawyers even do pro bono.

Like Politics, the practice of law is misunderstood by many people whose opinions are formed by fables and hearsay. With politics, the misunderstanding and ignorance of the trade is so deep rooted some have renamed it “POLITRICKS.” Many people I have spoken to in the UK believe the politicians are in for the money and nothing else. What people do not understand about politics is the fact that almost everything in life is politics, and if it were bad, it simply meant societies, communities and countries are electing the wrong guys for the job of politicians. Regulations on Peace, War, Sports,Religion, Culture, Education, Food, Clothes and Shelter and Sex are all politics. The laws are made by politicians. It is the politician who decide for you where to have sex and at what age. He makes the laws. It is the politician who literary decides which car you can drive and at what speed limit. When a decision is imposed on the importation of of over-aged vehicles, it is the politicians who make that decision. The final decision on which policy recommendations should be adopted are made by politicians. We have a responsibility to get interested and sanctify politics if we thought it were dirty.

We tend not to seek knowledge before vengeance and as a result exhibited some level of ignorance at one point or another. So many Rastafarians tend to count themselves out when it comes to politics and yet complain about the system and Babylon injustice. They are either unaware of the fact that the things they complain about are brought on by politicians and if they were to get recognition by the state, they would have to “Get up, stand up and fight for their rights" as Peter Tosh said.

Rastafarians are too quick to quote Isaiah 9:6 to back claims that His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia is Christ in his Kingly Character. The verse in Isaiah says “For unto us a child is born, to unto us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."His Magesty presided over a government, so why not his followers? Why must Rastafarians feel they must not be a part of the government?

Rastafarians get scorned and scoffed at by many people in our societies because of a lack of understand and knowledge of what Rasta is all about. Rastas are ascetic as the world views them, but they are not dirty. In Ghana for example, we tend to confuse unkempt behaviour with ascetic way of life. In the eyes of many Ghanaians, if someone was unkempt, then he is a rastaman. If someone burries himself in a cloud of ganja smoke daily then he is a rastaman or Rastafarian. These fables and misconceptions have been fueled by people who appear in the media and falsely claim to be members of the faith.

A friend of mine derisively described Rastafarian culture “as a movement that doesn't move at all.” Rastafarians would have to speed up and get moving. To clear this fog, members of the faith, culture, cult or whatever you want to call it would have to get into evangelism and a lot of Public Relations work. A lot of Rastafarians throughout the world have selflessly put out material through music, paintings and writtings with the view to educating people about their beliefs. Reggae music is replete with lines and quotes seeking to educate and provide clarity about Rasta. But the message is either not being couched properly or mixed up with intolerance of other peoples faith. You cannot attract new converts by insulting their intelligence. They would simply think you ar mad.

How could some Rastafarian musicians through their music, invoke curses and insults on people of other faiths and expect members of Parliament or Governments dominated by Christians to pass laws that recognise their rights to smoke ganja as a religious excercise? A section of the Rasta community is only good at picking and choosing verses in the Bible that best suits their needs. And if they would read the King James version carefully, they would notice that Jesus Christ, Jah, Yashua or Rastafari is love and only love can conquer.

King Selassie I is arguably one of the world's topmost diplomats. That is the Man Rastas follow. They would have to use a lot of diplomacy to get things done. Even homosexuals have won rights to practice what a large section of the world sees as pervert behaviour.

I have met a handful of talented Rastafarian lawyers in my travels to Jamaica and the West. The Rastafarian community would have to tap into the expertise of their learned members and use the courtroom and diplomacy to Fight For their Rights and any grievances. It is time to get up, stand up and fight for equal rights and justice but the the days of blaming “Babylon” for everything are over.

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