Entertainment

Tarrus, Mutabaruka on race and history

Tuesday, March 15, 2011    

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Jamaicans who justify bleaching are mentally enslaved reasoned entertainer Tarrus Riley, who steered his comments away from fellow entertainer Vybz Kartel.

At the same time poet/philosopher/broadcaster Mutabaruka revealed that many Jamaican teachers and youth cluelessly locate Egypt outside of Africa which reflects their torn link with that country's heritage.

"We have to be careful of an invisible chain that they wrap around our minds," stated Riley, who was one of three panellists including Mutabaruka and Omar Abdullah Johnson the great-great-great-great grand nephew of US scholar Fredrick Douglass, at a recent discussion entitled Shaka Zulu Pickney, produced by the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work at the University of the West Indies Mona.

"Bleaching has become the in-thing. Something is going on in their minds. And I am not talking about artistes but real people. Because when someone look in the mirror and don't like what they see its a big deal" Riley said.


His latest single Shaka Zulu Pickney, released during Black History month in February, highlights the contribution of uplifting black leaders especially Shaka, king of the Zulu nation.

Deejay Vybz Kartel's recent revelation that he has lightened his skin to highlight his tattoos, has ignited a firestorm of comments.

Turning to Mutabaruka. He said that the geographic ignorance on Egypt's location hinted at a greater historical ignorance.

"I kid you not. None of the teachers could show where Egypt was on the map," said Mutabaruka who added that those teachers were from a school in Manchester.

Mutabaruka speaks at schools across the island on issues related to African heritage.

"Most youth in Jamaica don't know that Egypt is in Africa," he said. "We have a disconnect. When it comes to history because we don't know how we fit into world history. We never were taught that black people were before slavery."

In February, western media blanketed the airwaves with continuous coverage of the Egyptian uprising which led to the ousting of president Hosni Mubarak from power in what was termed a peaceful revolution.

Mutabaruka explained that the black history extends beyond any other race based on scientific findings of the first human fossils, or biblical data in reference to the Garden of Eden.

"When you go to church they are showing you African history but you not connecting it with yourself because when you look at the images you know it is not you," he stated about the biblical images reinterpreted as Eurocentric. "Our history is before slavery. It is longer than any other history. More than European, Asian or whatever. African history is the history of the world. It connects the world."

The Egyptian, Nubian and Moorish empires of Africa were globally the most advanced civilisations of their day according to texts including 'African Presence in Early Europe' edited by global scholar Dr Ivan van Sertima. These empires existed prior to the transatlantic slave trade. Mutabaruka argued that knowledge of the past would reshape Jamaica's social and economic reality.

"Marcus Garvey said that a man without his past is like a tree without roots," he stated quoting Jamaica's first national hero. "It would have made a big difference. Even though the people say that 'its only food and shelter we a deal with now and we not bothering to talk about history', what we don't know is hurting us right now."

— Steven Jackson

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