The Rastafari community in Zimbabwe has been steadily growing over the past few years. The growth of the religion and the culture has led to the formation of the Rastafari in Zimbabwe Trust. I spoke to Ras Emmanuel about the trust and what it aims to achieve.

What is RASZ about?

The Rastafari In Zimbabwe (RASZ) Trust was formed in response to Haile Selassie for us to “organize and centralize”. It is an organization that consists of all the Rasta houses that are found in Zimbabwe; including Nyabhingi, Bobo Ashanti and Twelve Tribes amongst others. We have come together to promote the Rasta culture or ‘levity’, as the lifestyle is called within the Rastafari community. Is it just for those who are Rastafarian by religion? No the organization is open to all Pan Africans who love this continent and those who are in touch with their roots and culture. Our offices are at Room 11, First floor, Abbey House, Cnr George Silundika Ave & 1st Street. All those who are interested in becoming members can visit our offices Ras Bangure.

What are the objectives of the organization?

The objectives of the Rastafari in Zimbabwe(RASZ) Trust are:

– To promote and enhance religious tolerance, freedom of religion and freedom of association at all levels. – To strive to protect, promote, deepen and broaden the provisions in the Zimbabwean Constitution pertaining to freedom of religion and freedom of association

– To endeavour to find common ground with and to work alongside other Zimbaweans, regional and international groups, who share a broadly similar concern and interest in religious freedom, freedom of association, Pan-Africanism, Our Story and Rastafari

– To encourage public education and awareness of Pan-Africanism, African Story and Rastafari, and – To render material and other assistance to those in need.

Is it true that Rastafaris believe in things they don’t understand and they think they are Jamaicans?

I think that there’s a misunderstanding about Rastafari. For example they always associate Reggae music with Rastafari. That is an incorrect perception, a Rastafari may like Museve or Jazz and not necessarily Reggae music. Reggae is just a vehicle that is used to spread the Rasta teachings. Just like Morgan Heritage said in his song: “You don’t have to be dread to be Rasta” and it is really more about a state of mind not clothing, hairstyles or music.

Your organization has lobbied for the legalization of marijuana. Can you explain your organization’s stance on the matter?

We tried to have the legalization of marijuana included in the new Constitution but unfortunately it was vetoed by the Christians on the board. Even though their reasons might have been genuine we feel that their questions should have been directed to the trust. We are advocating for a controlled legalization not for everyone to have access to the herb. If they can control the use of pharmaceuticals, then they should be able to control the use of marijuana. We want it legalized as a religious sacrament (under Freedom of Religion laws) and for medicinal purposes, for industrial use and for recreational purposes for adults.

Do you think the issue of dreadlocks being banned in school is still relevant?

Even though the law now allows dreadlocks in school, it still is a problem because very few schools allow dreadlocks. Usually this How

How do you forsee the future of the Rastafari Movement in Zimbabwe?

I think that we are doomed unless we become relevant to the Zimbabwean reality. If we think speaking Patois and having dreadlocks is going to bring about  any progress then we sadly mistaken. Rastafari has to address our own issues, right here at home. And over and above that, we need to reconnect with our identity because Rastafari is Ancient of Days and when we say Ancient of Days we are referring to our Roots and Culture.