Ever since I could remember the sweet sound of Bob Marley’s voice has been playing in my house, whether it be when my mother cooks or when my father would be studying for his exams. The King of reggae is and always has been a cure all for anything and everything that goes on in my family. Every family has its own traditions, and listening to Marley is our way of coming together. As most people know, Bob Marley is a Rastafari, as he so often reflects in his music. What most people don’t realize is that “Rastafarianism” is much more than smoking weed, wearing dreadlocks, and listening to reggae music. Although my mother is Catholic, my father is a Rasta, and it definitely reflects on the values I gave today.
Fun fact: although I do not consider myself a Rasta, my father named me Jahaira after the God, Haile Selassie, who is known as “Jah”. My love and appreciation for music and African culture came to me early. Most babies learn how to walk and talk by the age two, while I was learning to walk and talk I was also learning about the root of reggae, and the philosophy of Marcus Garvey. I consider myself blessed to have been exposed to these ideas at such a young age because as I grew up they became a type of therapy to me. Like I said, I am not a Rasta myself but a lot of the practices have stuck with me, with the influence of my father. They believe in peace and love within yourself and also others, a belief that helped me get through plenty of tough times, most of which included Bob Marley’s music as an outlet to escape.
Just to clear up common misconceptions I addressed earlier, the religion is based on much more than reggae, dreadlocks, and ganja. In fact, not all Rasta’s smoke weed. One of the most important parts of Rastafari philosophy is the belief that your body is a temple. This means you have to take really good care of it in every way possible. Part of this is the diet, known as ital, which rejects any form of processed food or red meat. However respecting and taking care of your body is much more than just following the diet. This includes the practice of not cutting your hair (hence the common image of dreadlocks), and not marking your body with anything that you weren’t born with. The philosophy and music has taught me a lot about self worth and the worth of others, and for this I am grateful. Happy Birthday Bob Marley