If smoking weed, growing dreadlocks, and listening to Bob Marley sounds good to you, you just might be a Rastafarian! There’s a lot more to it than that, but I’ll be damned if I ever meet a “Rasta” who can explain it without mentioning reggae music or marijuana. It’s quite popular here in Kenya, but after meeting dozens of self-proclaimed Rastafarians I still always wonder: do these guys know that Rastafarianism is a religion, or is it just what the cool kids do?
While its roots are in the Back to Africa and black nationalism movements popularized by Marcus Garvey in the 1930s, it has evolved into much more than just a “black hippie” movement. In a nutshell, Rastafarianism is a Judeo–Christian religion that purports the late Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was the second coming of Jesus Christ (and therefore God incarnate). This and other Rastafarian beliefs are backed by verses from their holy scripture, the Bible.
Something that comes up a lot in Kenya is the fact that I’m not a Christian. They’re mildly shocked until they dig deeper and find out I’m not a Jew, Hindu, or Muslim either. Now, completely flabbergasted, they desperately want to know, “Well then what do you believe in?” Lately I just say, “I believe in trees.” It’s funny, light hearted, and everyone loves trees, right?
Humor’s really the only way to go when debating with religious folk. Even with really awesome, sound arguments, convincing someone who is already convinced otherwise is nearly impossible! It’s not that I haven’t tried… for the record, here are a few tactics which don’t work:
- Quote nasty verses from scripture
- List commonly accepted facts that contradict scripture
- List ridiculous things the founders of particular religions said or did
- Attempt to appeal to common sense
… so don’t waste your time!
There’s something with Mormons in Kenya that I haven’t quite figured out. I don’t know how big their following is in Kenya, but I always see them walking around Uthiru where I work. Maybe it’s an isolated thing. The funny thing isn’t the Mormons really, it’s the fact that there is always a balance between black dudes and white dudes. Yesterday, after the drunkard on the bus incident, I saw four of them walking, two black and two white.
There’s no mistaking them, they wear the suit and tie just like the ones you see in the United States. My buddies and I always laugh because we wonder why they are always together like that. Is it because the black dudes are Kenyans and they can protect the white boys? Or is it because the Mormons wanna show everyone they’re “equal opportunity” employers (so to speak)? I’ll never know because that’s not really the kind of thing you can ask someone (but you can ask them how the heck Jesus visited America… look it up, I’m not joking).
If you’re privy to that info please give me the low down!