The New Journey
I was born and raised a Christian and when I found Rastafari, I was actually in the process of getting ready for baptism in a Roman Catholic Church. It all started at age 14 after going to a concert in Trench Town that was held in honor of the great Bob Marley. It was my first time being in the presence of so many Rastas and I was quite attracted by the Rastafari culture. My father is a Rasta, but I never really took the time out before to observe and to try and understand the culture. Instead, I spent my time with him trying to convert him to Christianity. After the concert, I became curious and my hunger for knowledge of Rastafari heightened.
I spent my nights doing research about it, asking my father questions and watching YouTube videos. The information I received was so intriguing and refreshing that my questions grew more and I craved more answers. I learnt a lot from a prominent and well-know reggae Artiste, I-Wayne. I learnt a lot through his music and his interviews. I also fell in love with him and I always thought I would find him and he would marry me one day but that was just the typical teenage girl fantasy. With his teachings and his influence, my lifestyle began to change.
In March of 2014, I stopped eating pork and beef. I was still eating everything else but I felt as if I was coming closer to Rastafari. It surprised my family because nobody loved pork as much as I did. In June of that same year, I stepped outside the church right before the time I should have been baptized and received my first holy communion. I told myself that I would return soon and that I just need some time for myself outside of Christianity; I never went back. I attend a Roman Catholic high school and there was a chemist who worked on our compound who is a Rasta. One day I began having a discussion with him about Rastafari and from there our bond developed.
I was always baffled by the fact that he was a Rasta man who worked on the compounds of my school, for over 20 years, which was inhabited by strict and prejudice Roman Catholic authorities. We became very close and I would abandon my friends at lunchtime to spend time with him and I would also spend time with him after school. He also taught me a lot that I needed to know about Rastafari. I always noticed that the majority of teachers never really conversed with him and he spent his days alone in the labs working and that is when I came to my conclusion that there was still some form of prejudice against people of Rastafari in our jurisdiction. He taught me right from wrong, and how to be a true Rastafari princess.
Late 2014, I was told by the guidance counselor that I was banned from going to see him and that no students were permitted in the area. I was really sad because I enjoyed his company and he had so much to share with me. Shortly after, he retired from the school for several reasons but we still kept contact after he left. By this time, I knew quite a lot about Rastafari, more than just the basics. I also stopped eating meat during this time but I was still eating fish and dairy. This was also when I began having problems with my mother along with when I started using the sacred herb that I love so much, Marijuana.
Transitioning into Rastafari
Late 2014 was when I became serious about being a true Rasta and I decided to give up certain things such as going to parties, wearing revealing clothing, drinking, excessive use of expletives, etc. The relationship with my mother was becoming a catastrophe along with the relationship I had with other family members. I was going through a lot during this time because I had previously lost my only grandfather to diabetes in June 2014 and I was on the verge of losing my heartbeat, my grandmother, to stage 4 colon cancer. She was one of my only family members that accepted me becoming a Rasta. She would ask me questions about it and she was happy to see that I was becoming just like my dad, even though he and my mom are separated. The last day we spent together was Christmas Day of 2014 and on that day we discussed Rastafari and I promised her I would do well on my exams.
One day in the middle of January of 2015, I got a phone call from nana (my grandmother) and she was on the phone crying and telling me I'm going down the wrong road (meaning Rastafari) and that I need to stop. I knew my mother was behind it and she clearly told her things to turn her mind against me being a Rasta. My nana was very infuriated with me and she was on the phone shouting and crying which made me cry for the entire day. My nana meant a lot to me seeing that she raised me and I spent practically my entire life with her, growing up with her. I decided I would give it a few more days and I would call her and make things right. The phone call too place on the Tuesday and she fell very ill on the Friday. My mom took her to the doctor and they gave her morphine. She got ill again the Sunday and we rushed her to the hospital. She could barely walk and she wasn't talking and her eyes looked yellow. I went outside and I broke into tears because I felt like I was about to lose her. I told myself that when we went to visit her the next day at the hospital, I would make things right re the phone call that we had.
My stepdad came for me the next day at school and we went to the hospital because the hospital called my mom. He kept telling me to brace me myself but he is a very pessimistic individual so I ignored him. When we arrived at the hospital, the curtains were drawn and my knees instantly weakened and I broke into tears. I walked towards her bed and I held her hand and I kissed her, still trying to speak to her failing to accept the fact that she will no longer be with me physically. I spent the rest of my nights and days crying. So many thoughts plagued my mind. I kept thinking that maybe I should go back to church, eat meat and everything else she complained about with me on the phone. I knew my mom was behind this because she was the only one that had an issue with these things.
After my Nana's funeral, I decided that I wouldn't change and I would continue to trod Rastafari but I wouldn't break the promise I made to her of doing well in my exams. I began meeting more people of Rastafari that I became close to. I attended a Chronixx concert in March 2015, where I met an idren who is now very close to me. After the concert, I lost connection with him and I didn't expect to hear from him again. During this time, I was in the process of preparing for my upcoming exams. This was a very challenging time because of my family members. During this period, I also began getting closer to my father.
My mother and her friends were giving me a very difficult time. I wasn't allowed to play any nyabinghi chants or reggae music in the house. She would also say things to me like "Selassie can't do anything for you", "I pray to God and not man" and "Selassie doesn't care about you. He is dead and gone. He's not putting food on your table and he's not putting clothes on your back". She has some Christian friends who have a great influence on her life and they discouraged her from accepting my changes and me being a Rasta. A number of them tried to forced me multiple times to eat meat and go to church but I refused. She dragged me to church twice in the summer of that same year and I would just sit in the church for the whole time and sleep. She was not pleased because I wasn't worshipping with them. She even took me to see a psychologist. She asked multiple Christians and pastors to pray for me. She rubbed olive oil all over my books and other personal items, which annoyed me because I don't like the smell of olive oil. I can also remember at my Nana's funeral, her friend tried forced me to drink manish water (goat soup) and she got upset when I refused to do it. I pretended to drink it but I threw it away and ran off as soon as she turned her back.
My mother would often times tell me that if I didn't do well on my exams I should go make brooms with other Rasta men and sell or I go and let the Rasta men up at Bobo hill impregnate me and I stay with them just for the purpose of reproducing. There would be constant arguments in the house about Rastafari. At the same time, my exams were coming up and I was stressed. My hair was falling out, I was losing weight and I wasn't eating. I had a boyfriend at the time that she didn't like and she also gave us a difficult time. She stalked him and threatened to kill him. We eventually separated due to his infidelity and dishonesty. My father was the only person that I could turn to when I to vent about my mother and her ways. He was the only one who seemed to understand what I was going through.
I would stay with one of her friends sometimes because her daughter is my best friend. They are Jehovah Witnesses and her mother would force me to go to Kingdom Hall and participate in their worshipping. When I didn't she got upset and told me that I would want others to respect my religion. I strongly disagree that to respect another's religion; there must be participation in their practices. She also made stew peas and tricked me and told me that it was "Ital stew". When I found out that it was stew peas with pork in it, I almost fell. I refused to eat it the second time she made it and she got upset. I decided that I'm going to stop eating from people and stop spending so much time with these people that I was once very close to and that I loved so much. My aunties, cousins and other family members would also discourage me from being a Rasta telling me I'm going in the wrong direction, that I'm destroying my life. I grew frustrated and I started straying from my family.
I sat my exams in May/June 2015, around the same time I met my current kingman. He also taught me many things. I was still working on my relationship with my dad and he was also teaching me things about Rastafari and the struggles that people of Rastafari went through for us to be where we are now, for example, the Coral Gardens massacre. He also shared with me his experiences of the difficulties he has faced with Babylon. He gave me two books to read, "The philosophy and opinions of Marcus Garvey" and "The teachings of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I". I can't find the second book and I think my mom threw it away like she did with my two Rasta necklaces. I wasn't allowed to wear Rasta jewelry either. One day during my exam period she took one of the chains I had and threw it away because "it has demons in it". I actually got that necklace from a Rasta patient I took care of while doing voluntary services at the University Hospital of the West Indies in August 2014. The second necklace I got from a Rasta man I became friends with at a summer school I attended in July of the same year.
My kingman and I were very close friends at the time and talking to him would help me to relieve some of the stress I was undergoing with my mom. He also helped me with understanding Rastafari and aided me with being a firmer princess in Rastafari. I went to binghi (nyabinghi) with my dad that same summer to celebrate the 123rd earthstrong of His Majesty and he was there and we spent the night chanting together and resting.
While awaiting my results for my exams, I was quite nervous every because I thought that I failed and I didn't know what I would do if I did. Many persons around me, including my mother, were of the impression that Rastas are stupid and uneducated and because of that I would fail all of my exams. She would call me the nastiest names and speak many bad things over my life and tell me that bad things were going to happen to me. She forced me to wear mini skirts that were a little below my bottom and if I stooped down the world would be able to see my yoniverse. The week before my results, which was in August 2015, she kept irritating me and I got angry and told her that since she likes to use quotes from the bible the bible states that you should not provoke your children to wrath. She got upset and sent me to spend the day with my brother and she forced me to wear a mini skirt and a top that revealed my bosom.
My brother at the time lived in an inner city that wasn't the best of areas. He was also trying to change me and turn me away from Rastafari. Somebody was killed on the avenue the same day and I saw twelve police cars going up the road. I wasn't used to this type of environment so I got a little weary wanting to go home. My brother and his girlfriend live together and we were the only females in the yard. She made me feel a bit better about the situation and we cooked Ital food together even though she is not a Rasta. She understood what I was going through. My mother tricked me and told me I was going to stay for the day at my brother's house and I ended up spending the night. I was terrified and I didn't sleep well. Apparently this was her way of punishing me. She came for me the next night.
August 2015, my results came out and I passed every single one. I did pretty well and the night of my results I called her and shared it with her and told her that Rastas can be successful too. I felt proud and I knew the Rastafari community would be proud as well. She was happy, along with everyone else. Her friend that tricked me with the stew peas told me that it's good that a Rasta girl can do well in babylon's exams. I laughed. Life seemed to be getting better with my mom. I was wrong. *laughs hysterically* I was so wrong.
Better or Bitter days?
Two weeks after my results came out, life went back to its usual state. My mom and I started having problems again. I thought to myself that there was nothing I could do to please her. I continued to ignore her. I tried my best not to allow Rastafari to get tied into my school life because of the contradiction and how the people at school would react to me being a Rasta. I didn't only drop family members, but I also had let go a couple friends a long the way.
When I started grade 12, I signed up for Spanish. In my first Spanish class, the teacher told us to stand and say something interesting about ourselves, and why we chose Spanish. Honestly, there isn't anything really that I would say that's interesting about me so I said that and I told her that I chose Spanish because I desire to be fluent in it one day. She asked if there's nothing at all that's interesting about me and I said no. Then there were some girls in my class who mocked me for being a Rasta and they kept shouting to the teacher and telling her that I am a Rasta. I kept telling them to be quiet because I knew what would have happened and how the conversation would turn out. She looked at me and asked, "are you a Rasta?" And I said yes I am. She asked me for how long and I said for two years now. She began shouting at me and saying "SO YOU REALLY THINK THAT SELASSIE IS GOD? IS THAT WHAT YOU REALLY BELIEVE?" I felt quite attacked and I simply replied and said, "I am here to do Spanish not to discuss my beliefs". She said "I hope you change your religion one day. You may sit". I was so surprised that I would be hearing that from a teacher. I had a friend in that same class; she was my best friend. She called on her to stand and she said "I like Rastas but not as much as Krista" (Krista is my first name). While she said this she looked at me and smiled and everybody looked at her in bewilderment wondering why she would say that after the tension that was built up in the class.
That same day I went home and I went to talk about the situation on my snapchat. My snapchat is like my diary where all my close friends can see and that same friend I mentioned earlier is on my snapchat. That day on my snapchat I spoke about the incident and I said that if I wanted my teacher to know that I'm a Rasta I could have told her. I then proceeded to address the matter of the struggles that Rastas have faced over the years and Rastafari is not a joke. I went on to explain also that Rastafari is not about just having locks and smoking marijuana and listening to reggae, there is way more to it. I also went on to say that doing the things that were mentioned above do not make you a Rasta. My friend from the class took offense to what I said and she decided to cut me off. I did other snapchat videos addressing the situation because we have been friends from before high school. In the second set of snap chat videos I mentioned that she is one of my best friends and I also said that she took offense to what I said. I apologized for her feeling that way but I said I wasn't sorry about what I said and for to take offense to that says a lot about her. I'm a very open person and I express myself freely. She went and showed the story to her mom and her mom and my mom are also very close so her mother called my mother complaining and saying that I'm bullying her child.
My mom called me that same night swearing like a sailor and told me to pack my things and come out of her house because she's tired of me and my Rasta foolishness and I'm allowing it to come between myself and my friends. I am very firm in my beliefs and I always stand up for what is right and what I believe in. I knew my dad wasn't able to take me in due to financial circumstances. I called my stepdad and I asked him to come for me and I explained the situation. I stayed with him for almost two weeks and I did everything to help myself. I looked at myself in the mirror the same night I left my mother's house and I said "well this is where life starts for me. It's time to be a woman."
The next day I went to school and there is a teacher that I am very close to that I went to share the problem with. She is the only teacher at school that I have a close relationship with. She told me she would try to get through to Rita Marley and another Rasta lady because it would be best for me to live with a Rasta family. On the other hand, my stepfather would tell me every day on my way to school that he is giving me up until the weekend to leave his house. I was barely focusing on school because I was busy finding somewhere to live. He didn't agree with me being a Rasta either and not eating meat but that was because of my mother because at first, like everyone else, he didn't have a problem with it. On day he dragged me to the doctor to do a blood test even though I told him I'm fine I'm just having cramps.
The doctor told me that I'm crazy for believing in Rastafari and depriving myself of meat and that I would get sick. My stepfather took me to the lab and they had to tie me down to take the blood because I have a terrible phobia of needles. I cried and I screamed for help as if someone was about to murder me. A few weeks after the blood test, the doctor revealed to me that my blood count is low and that I need to go back on meat. He also diagnosed me with anemia. I always knew that I was anemic even before I stopped eating meat and I would complain to my mom but she didn't really listen to my complaints. Unfortunately, I had to start taking pills for my b12 but I stopped after a while.
I notified my stepfather and told him that my teacher is trying to sort out something for me to stay with a rasta family because every single morning he kept telling me I need to leave soon. One day after I came home from school, he told me that he called the Child Development Agency and told them that I'm planning to run away with a Rasta family. This infuriated me very much. I knew this was my testing and that there is a whole lot more for me to endure. I began locking my hair since I wasn't going to be living with my mom anymore. The first weekend while staying there, he told me my mom wants me to come and do my hair (she owns a salon). I went there and she saw the lock at the back of my hair and she used a comb and tore it out. I had a headache for the rest of that day. My stepfather told me that she said that if I wanted to go back home I had to change and go back to being a Christian and eating meat. I told myself that if that is what it took to go back home then I’d never be living with her again. I decided that this is where life starts for me so I was doing everything on my own which includes preparing my own meals, washing and ironing my clothes and making medicine for myself when I wasn't feeling so well. Two weeks later, my mom called me and told me that I should pack my things because she is coming for me to take me home. At first I must admit I was hesitant to go with her but I was doing some deep meditation and I realized that she is the one who decided to take me back into her home which means she has made up her mind that she is willing to accept my decisions. Again, I was wrong.
Living with My Mother Again
When my mom took me back in, the atmosphere was tense and us living together was more like two strangers living together who are merely trying to co-exist with each other. A few weeks later, she found out about my kingman and she wasn't very pleased. She spoke to him a couple times and she threatened to burn down his house in my presence. She wasn't very friendly to him and ever since she found out about him things spiraled out of control. I don't wish to share details about what happened between him and my mom but I can simply say that things didn't turn out as expected. She still threatens to put me out. Nothing really has changed. She has adjusted somewhat to my lifestyle but not completely. There are many issues that have been arising in the house but I continue to deal with every thing as best as I can because every one has to face their testing. Things seem to be getting worst and the tension in the house fluctuates. However this does not change my decision and it won't.
Once again I'd like to thank everyone who read this blog. For all the young Rastas who are facing difficulty with gaining acceptance from friends, family members and etc, I want to encourage you all and I advise you to be strong. Elders always told me that I would experience difficulties in society and within my family but for some strange reason I didn't really take them that seriously. I have learnt a lot and experienced a lot more than I wrote about in this blog and I would love to share but most of the information is personal. However, despite the difficulties we as young sons and dawtas of Rastafari are experiencing, I bid you all strength and guidance during your journey and don't ever give up. Learn from your experiences and use them to guide you in making decisions in the future and handling situations. You will lose many along the way but you will also gain many who will love and accept you as you are. May Haile bless and itect you all! #Rastafari
- Princess Erykah