The Mighty Dread
The Mighty Dread was born in Jamaica in 1952. He has been resident in the area for a long period of time.
The Mighty Dread is a musician, motivational speaker, youth councillor and Karate teacher.
Below is an abridged version of The Mighty Dread's interview:
00:00 The Mighty Dread recites the Lords Prayer and talks about his early life and education.
03:10 I don’t like the name ism (in Rastafarianism). It is nothing to do with us. The question should be re-phrased: What is Rastafarian all about? To try to describe it is a very long story – we would be here for the rest of the year! It started with Marcus Garvey, who prophesised a King in Africa, like John the Baptist did; He talked about the coming of Christ. Marcus Garvey talked about the coming of Jah. He came and talked to black men about the King in the East when most people didn’t know anything about it because most couldn’t read. They didn’t have time to think about it because all they could think about was food and work. I was a Catholic before. Then I went to Baptist Church. Whatever church your mother goes to you have to go to. In Jamaica everyone believes in some form of religion. Rasta is the only one that relates historically to the Bible. We can trace our ancestral lineage through this religion. Other religions can’t do this. We talk about natural things, simple things even kids can relate to. We can answer questions more directly, that someone can understand within their heart.
06:17 Our main belief is that Jah Rastafari was the King of Kings. We believe in everything that is good, in everything that is pleasant. Rastafari don’t believe in evil. That is the situation going on in the world today. This is something that was prophesised. The Babylon city that we talk about, is evil government. Nobody in this country is happy. They are not satisfied. My belief is that this evil government is oppressing the people. But it is not just this government; it is all over the world. They are joining together now to fight against the poor. It is not black against white now, it is rich against poor. My main belief is that this system has to go. They don’t like Rasta because we are the only ones who talk like this. We are the only people who go around the world and sing about love. About loving one another, loving your brother. That’s what Christ was doing. We go all around the world spreading the word of the Gospel. They call it Reggae music. We call it God's music or Jah's music. Bob Marley and others have been preaching. Today’s system wouldn’t see them as prophets. They see them as musicians, Reggaes or Rastas. That is the same thing they said about Christ. The system sees you as a madman if you are not doing what they say or following their ways. We are the only people they don’t recognise. But it is not new, they didn’t recognise Christ either. Then they decided to hang him up and crucify him. That is the day they call Good Friday. They kill a man then call the day Good Friday. In some churches they use it as a symbol.
09:23 I would say that people don’t become Rasta. Some people are born of the spirit. Some people are born of the flesh. We are all not the same. But we can learn from each other. For me, when I was a child of 14 years old I was going to Catholic school and church I didn’t like what I saw. My sisters and family had to get dressed up and I would question why they couldn’t just go to church, just sit and pray. I could see the Rasta man. It felt much better, more relaxing. It was easy. There was no hypocrisy. He didn’t have to straighten his hair or put on fancy clothes. I started to look at John the Baptist and Christ in their time and that is the way it usually is. After 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness Christ didn’t come out looking rosy and dressed and smelling good and tidy. When I look at all the other religions I didn’t think that they were doing what the Bible was saying so I couldn’t see the relation between it. Then more questions arrived. When you start to ask yourself questions, you are looking for answers. But today most people don’t ask questions. They settle for anything they see or hear. But if you keep asking questions the answers will reveal themselves to you. I became a Rasta because I didn’t like the way the other religions were performing. It was the only one I could see that was close to my heart. We are the only people that go round the world talking about love and the only people that the system hates, just like they hated Christ. That is a good sign!
11:56 I was an Afro guy. I ended up in Canada with my sister and I got into music. I used to play for big bands and sing. Then one day, a girlfriend said to me “You are a Rasta. Why don’t you grow your dreadlocks?” It was like someone slapped me in the face. There was an afro-pick I had bought in Miami for ten pence. I threw away that comb and from that day on I never looked back. I started to gain more friends, people started to look at me more. My mum never knew. I went back to Jamaica about 4 years later and my mum never asked me why, when, how or where. But my sister almost had a fit. I thought she was going to faint! I didn’t jump into it. It is something that grew into me. I was hoping to find something else. When I was a child I didn’t like Rasta men. And look at me today. Even my mother didn’t like them because she didn’t know anything. I am the only one in my family who comes as a Rasta Man. My mum never asked me one question and today we are best friends.
14:32 It is harder to be a Rasta in the UK in some ways and it is easier in other ways. We are intelligent people - artists, musicians. You don’t see Rasta men begging on the side of the street. Because England is more democratic and there are human rights, you find it easier. But on the other hand it is harder and we have to fight more in order to survive. There is less provision. In other countries like Jamaica you just plant your corn and go fishing. You don’t need to talk to anyone. It is easier, mentally and physically. England is “Mother Babylon”. There is work to do here and we are working on it. The kids here today always respect the Rasta Man, and I say; “Give thanks to that”. They are still searching and we don’t even know they are searching. They are looking and listening and we don’t know they are looking and listening. That shows me that the light is shining. The youth don’t want to know anything about the church because they are not telling them anything that they want to hear or feel or showing them anything they want to see. If there is light youth will see it. But there is no light, only darkness. Today the church has big problems. All religions have problems. We don’t have big shoes and fancy things. We don’t have a big church or temple like the others but it doesn’t mean anything. Christ didn’t have that either. He had a tree in the corner, and people followed him all over and that is how the Gospel spread. Our mission is on the street.
17:37 Every evil government is Babylon. England, America, you name them. You tell me one country that people are living in happily? Where they are sharing the wealth, sharing the socialisation of people? There is not one. There is enough money and food but they find reasons to keep people down. Babylon is about oppressing the people. We know the stories of Babylon. It is the same Babylon that crucified Christ, that fought against Haile Selassie I, that tried to invade Ethiopia. That took us away from Africa and took us as slaves all over the world. The same Babylon that doesn’t respect us. The same Babylon that keeps us under it’s feet. Black people in this country are the underdog. We are the mat. We don’t get anything. We got to search for ourselves. That is what is causing problems with the youth today. Maybe our parents and us will take it because we are humble but these youth have come out of slavery, they are in the system. They are not going to sit back and watch everything pass them by. My father said; “The hungry lions will turn on Babylon”. They are the hungry lions. They are turning on Babylon but the system can’t understand that. In spite of the problem they still don’t want to give. It causes frustration with violence, anger with violence. This is nothing new. It was all the same from the beginning. Now it is more highlighted because you have got internet, television and more media coverage.
20:16 The event that had the most impact on my life was in 1966 when His Majesty Haile Selassie I came to Jamaica. I was a little boy, but no one in the world could question this. It was one of the most beautiful impacting days of our lives. We saw this thing that had only happened once before - when Christ arrived in Jerusalem and people were throwing palm leaves. It was the same situation in Jamaica. There were no leaves on the trees! The island was in turmoil for that day. Millions of people saw it that would testify too. A white man walking with his wife said “I have never seen anything like this in my life!” Everybody was happy. Rasta Man could smoke his ganja on the street. Everything was free for that day. Everybody was free. There was freedom and free spirit for that day. People got to make that decision for themselves. I will never forget that.
23:32 My life has been affected because of the evil and frustration I felt, and am feeling about the situation - how they treat me, of people in general. My life is affected not because of my personal reasons but my visual understanding and social understanding of my surroundings. Little things affect me, like watching an old lady cross a street and no one helping her. It doesn’t have to be something big. When little things that should be done reasonably and humanly don’t get done, I question. There are so many questions in my mind now because so many people neglect their human and social duties. That affects me and disturbs me. I am not the only one going though this. But people don’t speak about how they feel anymore. They suppress how they are feeling until they get hungry and it come out in a different way – violently, most of the time.
24:58 I feel sorry for the youth today because they don’t know themselves. The world is open to them but they can’t open to the world. They don’t fit in the world. They don’t get the right teaching. Parents don’t have the right to teach their youth about reason and discipline because the system doesn’t allow you. When we were children in our time you couldn’t do anything because your dad would come and slap you or beat you. That threat was there. Within that threat you kept yourself on a level. But now that threat is not there for the youth, so they think like adults. You get a boy of 14 and you can’t tell him that he is a child or a little boy. He says he is a “Big Man”. In his mind he thinks he is grown up. He is 14 years old and a “Big Man” is 50 years old. How can you know anything? You have got another 40 odd years to go. No matter what you think you know, you don’t know anything yet. The system doesn’t provide for them. There is nowhere to go and release. When I was a child we could run around and romp and punch each other. Now it doesn’t happen because if two youths are fighting and one punches too hard, the other will pull out a knife. I have seen it happen at my school. After 5 minutes it turned into a big brawl, and it was two friends. They can’t relate to each other. I feel sorry for them. The government, the Babylon system, is not helping. It only helps them. If youth don’t commit crimes, the police don’t have jobs, the judge and the lawyer don’t have jobs, and the system breaks down. That is what makes this country tick. It is a shame. The youth are victims. They think one way and the system thinks the other way. They go one way and the system goes the other. They are lost. There is no direction from parents in general. If you wait till the tree is big you can’t bend it anymore. You need to do it from when it is small. The system should help to bend this tree with parents. Then kids would end up being better people. I don’t blame them because they don’t see anything to follow. You better don’t follow than follow something you don’t believe in or is not true. They are still waiting for direction. I think they respect Rasta philosophy, Rasta teachings, more than anybody else because we are the only one who is always saying the same thing and has always said the same thing. We don’t change to match people or government or politics or time. The old religion stays the same way from Moses until the end of time, from Genesis to Revelation.
29:52 Ask questions. Don’t listen to everything people tell you. Ask yourself the questions, and the answer is inside your heart. There is a little man or woman inside each of us that tells us when we are going wrong or when we are going right. The problem is that most of us don’t listen. So listen to your heart and search for answers and you will find. The end (or the journey - very interesting). That is my message for the youth of today. Rastafari.