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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mutabaruka

So someone pointed out that I be bigging up alot of female vegetarians, vegans, raw foodist, etc. Hey, they just have the fresh websites. There are alot of males out there. In the legion of vegetarians, as I mentioned right off the muscle with this site, one of my heroes Dick Gregory. He's one of the first Original Men who I was conscious of that was a vegetarian.

Another who I count amongst those hard core Original Men who rock it like this is Mutabaruka. He is an ill dub poet from Jamaica. He was in the movie "Sankofa" which is a hardcore movie about the middle passage and slavery in America. He played an ill runaway slave. I met him back in the day when the movie was in New Haven. Incredible presence. Anyway do the knowledge to this interview from Black Vegetarians with him.

BV: How long have you been a vegetarian?



M: About 30 years. I was on raw food for about 7 years, and I went back for 3 years, but I think I going to come back again and continue.



BV: What made you transition into raw foods?



M: Raw food is the way to go. Cooking kill the food. Everybody knows that. Live food for live people. Sometimes you find it very difficult to keep up with it. It's somewhat of a mindset, it's a mind thing.



BV: Is there a community of folks in Kingston doing raw foods?



M: No, there's not a community. You have one and two people that are doing raw food, but most Rastafarians are vegetarians. The raw foods are the next level. Actually we did kind of try the fruitarian thing for a while, but we came off of that.



BV: How was that?



M: It was nice. It was nice.



BV: You have it all here…



M: Yes, the fruits. Sometimes it's very expensive though. It was nice, though, to experience the different levels, the different stages of understanding how your body function. Anytime you become like that you start to know what you want, how your body function. A lot of people don't know how their body function. When I first become vegetarian, and really moved into the step of raw food, I learned more about my body. It's like you are the one who is building your temple. You are like the contractor who is constructing your body so you know exactly what is what. If something hurt you, you know why it's hurting.



BV: What are some of the traditional foods that folks are eating who are not necessarily raw but are vegetarian?



M: Well, it's a normal vegetarian food. Rice and peas, stew peas, green vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat flour. Tofu is a staple…gluten.



BV: It's a typical vegan diet?



M: Yes. No animal products. I don't use animal products. I don't use it. I don't wear it. I never given my children animal products. They don't know how cheese is made—egg, honey—none of those things. None of those things, nothing from animals. I grow up my children them that way. But I am the only one that make the transition to the raw food thing. But a lot of Rastas, they're into it. You have different stages. Some people eat fish, some people don't eat fish. Some people drink milk, some people don't drink milk. My concept of vegetarian is vegetable. “Vegetarian” come from vegetable. I wouldn't include milk and cheese and egg and these things. That is not vegetable. When I say vegetarian, I don't have to say “vegan.” That is terminologies now that make the thing get strange. People say they are lacto-vegetarian and vegan-vegetarian. You can't be a lacto-vegetarian and a vegan-vegetarian. You're either a vegetarian or you're not a vegetarian. A vegetarian is a person who only eats vegetables. So if you are drinking milk and eating fish...you can't have a semi-vegetarian.



BV: Do you have any advice for people who are curious about vegetarianism but have not made the commitment?



M: Well I would say to listen to your body. You have to just know what is good for you. You can't have no strict hard and fast rule for anybody. You have to know what is with you. You have a lot of people who are making the transition to vegetarianism who have this concern about where you get your protein from. Anybody who you tell that you are becoming a vegetarian will say, “Well, where will you get protein from?” They feel as if protein is the most important thing out of the foods. But most people spend too much time trying to figure out protein. There's too much protein already being taken. So when somebody eating fish, chicken, saying them looking for protein, you already have your protein in basic nuts, beans, grains. Brown rice have protein. Red peas, most of the peas, most of the nuts, is mostly protein. I don't think they should be concerned with it. I think we have been brainwashed in this protein thing. We already have the protein.

BV: Can you explain what dub poetry is?



M: Dub poetry is Jamaican poetry to music, especially reggae music. What we do, we use the music to compliment the poems. Most of the poems is basically a social, political or religious commentary. We use the reggae music to express it. So that is why they call it dub poetry, because Jamaican music at one time was dub music. Now they would call it reggae poetry.



BV: Are you considered the father of dub poetry?



M: The father? (laughs) Well, you see when I was doing poetry they didn't call it dub poetry. It was just poetry to music. Dub poetry just come later on down because they wanted to identify a kind of poem. I don't really like the term still because it kind of limit you to that. A lot of my poems, especially on my CDs, would draw from different black musical perspective. We're very African-centered. A lot of my poems would draw from the black experience, the musical experience of black people all over the world. You don't want to just limit yourself to reggae.



BV: Who are some of those musical influences for you?



M: Well, we just listen to every music that black people make, especially African music. You see, when we started to write the poems, we had a mind of music, a music mentality because we loved to play music, and we listened to a lot of music. I couldn't name the specific musicians as such. Depending on the poem, we use a type of music. We used to listen to poets like Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, Marcus Garvey. We used to read Marcus Garvey poems. In the sixties when we used to go to school, there was Sonia Sanchez, Gwendolyn Brooks, LeRoi Jones. We started to develop out of that Black Poets experience.



BV: Do you see a relationship between diet and consciousness? And, if so, how have you seen yourself grow spiritually as a Rastafarian due to your change of diet?



M: One thing vegetarian allow you to do is to become more compassionate. What I get to understand within the vegetarian concept is that all life is one. It's just different manifestations of flesh. The cow, the goat, the bird, they all flesh. Is of one source, the life source. Even the tree is of one life source. When it come down to flesh now, man wasn't made to eat flesh. Your body don't assimilate flesh as such. When you stop eating flesh, you kind of recognize a certain compassion inside of you. You feel like, wow, the cow, he don't eat animal, him just there, he don't trouble nobody. So you kind of start to feel like why should I kill the cow? The cow don't trouble nobody. The cow just eat greens everyday. The goat eat greens everyday and don't trouble nobody. That feeling take hold of you and you start to go into yourself. You start to get feelings toward things. You start to feel more developed into a being, a person. And then you take it from there within the consciousness of what people call God. We move within a level of man taking responsibility… If you kill animals it don't mean that you won't kill a man. Even when the Bible tell you “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” it never said “Thou Shalt Not Kill man.” It said “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and full stop. So who's to say what it is talking about when it say “Thou Shalt Not Kill”? If God wanted animals to be your food, him wouldn't make them with foot to run away, and with eyes. Food not supposed to have eyes and mouth and nose. That is not food. Food cannot have eyes. That is crazy. It help me as a person to understand what really is this thing that is life. As a Rasta man, it allow you to keep a certain sanity in all this confusion. It allow you really to keep a certain train of thought. Because you're thinking on life, and how to sustain and maintain life in its glory, in its fullness, in its totality. So even like me, I wouldn't say that I'm not going to eat animal, but then I wear animal product. That is contradictory to me. If a man say him don't eat cow, but him wear leather shoes, that kind of thought is contradictory because it's the same perpetuation of the killing of the animal to make clothes and to eat… Human being is the only creature on earth that kill to create clothes.



BV: Did you see any subtle differences between eating a vegetarian cooked diet and eating raw, in terms of your consciousness?



M: Yeah, man! Definitely. The raw thing is a higher level. It's like you walking a line, but it's not a line really, because it make you so balanced. I don't know. Things start to feel more to you. It gets you more aware, more quicker. You don't sleep as much. You're not as sluggish. I remember when I used to be raw, I didn't want to sleep. It was like I was starting fresh. I didn't want to sleep, but you're supposed to sleep. I had to realize that there was nothing wrong with me. Sleeping is not a thing where you have to sleep

eight hours. You eat less. You definitely eat less when you eat raw food. Three meals a day is a crazy thing. It's a western thinking. Three meals a day is a man who is soon dead. And it's kind of ridiculous to eat three meals a day when people don't eat one meal. When you're a vegetarian and you start eating tofu and gluten, it's almost like you're eating meat. But it's not as sluggish. But the raw food thing—you eat less, you're not as hungry. You just eat when you feel like you want to eat. Sometime I eat because I afraid. I didn't really want to eat, but I didn't eat for a long time so I feel I should eat something. It keep you alert.



BV: How have you seen your music and poetry develop and mature? In your relationship to—



M: Eating? Well, the poetry that I write now is just looking around me and seeing things that is happening around me. My poetry mostly is social, political, African-centered. My thinking of black, Africanness, was there before me start to go into this raw food. We were more aware of our blackness before. So it just continued that way. What the vegetarian did was put it into perspective more. You wear Africa, you eat vegetarian, anytime you talk it's African. You kind of get a respect for that. It's what white people say is “wholistic.” White people say everything is wholistic. It gives you a wholistic approach to Africa. Everything has to be directed toward an African-centered perspective. So what we eat and what we wear and what we think has to be in relation to our Africanness. So, my poetry now is just an expression of my Africanness. What I believe African people should do and what

I think white people are doing. So my poems go against white supremacy. We are Marcus Garvey people. Anytime we talk, its about Africa. It's a way to fight against white supremacy. So the food is just a next aspect. It's not really the aspect because we are talking the liberation of African people, whether we eat meat or not.



BV: Is that liberation external or internal?



M: Liberation in every way. Marcus Garvey say, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.” The mental slavery right now is more damaging than the physical slavery that we was once in. Black people get complacent right now with slavery. They think that there's no slavery. So they get very complacent. But the slavery right now is more devastating than the slavery of old because our foreparents could see the chains, so they took out the chisel and they break off the chain on them foot. We don't see them chain, so we think no chain is there. So we get so domicile and so complacent in the European mentality. So we don't really feel it. Part of the thing that is the matter is the food. McDonald's is one of the biggest drug houses in the world right now, but people don't see it as that. It's white supremacy. Americanization of mind. It's more than just eating a burger. It's all about an institution that is inculcating a culture. So we have to understand it even more than just the physical. It's a mental thing. A man don't hunger but go have a McDonald's. Why you don't hunger but want to have a McDonald's? Because them advertise it that way. Them portray it that way. That we are fighting against. And we use the poetry to do that and we use just our own lifestyle to do that. Every time we move, every time we act, that is what we do.



BV: Well, thanks very much for talking with us.



M: Give thanks.

1 comment:

blacksoils said...

Thanks so much, brother!

Am always so excited when I come across someone who has been a huge inspiration for me & part of my path - & who is also aware of the many dimensions of consciousness.

Will def link to the post, so thanks again.

Keep on spreading the light,
Chants