The acclaimed cultural activist, Trevor Hall, aka Ras Jabulani, who traces his ancestry to the Griots in West Africa, set Soul to Soul in Tlokweng on fire on Saturday, as he revived live reggae entertainment.
Hall was born in Jamaica but relocated to United Kingdom where in 1975 he set up the first Black self-help movement and later a self help centre-‘Mattafancanta’-a closed compound derived from Ethiopian Amharic and Mandingo, denoting the wise counsel, ‘Come guard yourself from self destruction.’ Herein lay the genesis of his Pan Africanism. The centre also helped liberation movements fighting colonialism. At this time Hall would occasionally play Percussions for the late Reggae legend, Robert (Bob) Nesta Marley, named Berhaine Selassie (Light of the Trinity) by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church at his passing in 1980.
Like the late Afro-American civil rights leader, Malcolm X, who after his pilgrimage to Mecca would assume the name, ‘Al-Hajj Malik-El-Shabaaz,’ Trevor Hall has not only preached the repatriation message of Marcus Garvey and other Africans in the Diaspora, he has in fact, like the Pan Africanist, William Edward Burghandt Du Bois, internalised it. He was only 24 years when he arrived in Africa for the first time landing in Kenya as the first and last Rasta volunteer under the International Voluntary Service.
A qualified Social Worker, he trained in Germany and specialises in youth and juvenile issues as well as teaches the handicapped. From Kenya, Hall would later travel to Swaziland where he taught in a Catholic school! “A Rastaman in a Catholic school, it was fire!” he reminisced last week in an interview at the offices of the Guardian newspaper. With promoter King Blak of New Race Entertainment on tow, Trevor Hall who has since 1987 found a permanent home in Zimbabwe after a short stint in Botswana, expounded on the significance of Reggae music, Rastafarianism and Pan Africanism relative to the whole narrative of African Unity. The advent of the infamous Trans Atlantic slave trade, which led to dispersal of millions of Africans into the Diaspora, engendered a spirit of resistance among those Africans in the Diaspora, of which Trevor Hall (Ras Jabulani) is a descendant.
And so with the passage of time, Marcus Garvey’s prophecy of a Black King that would rise in the East came to pass with the crowning of Ras (Prince) Tafari Makonnen of Abyssinia in November 2, 1930, whereupon the Jamaican Africans went into a wild frenzy. The day of reckoning had finally dawned! At this time there was no independent state in this continent, formerly known as Alkubulani and then Ethiopia until it was named Africa after the Roman centurion Africanos during the time that Alexander conquered Kemet (modern day Egypt), save for Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia, the land of the sun burnt people according to the Greeks). Who better to reminisce about this glorious past than Trevor, who has suffered the full brunt of the British government when he was banned for his ‘revolutionary’ teachings! He recalls how at His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I’s (Power of the Trinity) coronation 70 Kings bowed at his throne in fulfilment of Revelation 19. They came from all Europe except from Africa, which had no independent state then.
According to Ras Jabulani, Selassie had to pick Rases from the country’s Provinces to play represent Africa! Henceforth he would thrust himself in the political liberation of this continent by training and financing liberation movements! All these culminated with the signing of the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. Although happy that finally the African Union has recognised the status of Africans born in the Diaspora and their right of return to the mother continent, which was begun by Emperor Menelik and actualised by Selassie I at his coronation in November 2, 1930 when he reserved a piece of land (Sheshemane) in Ethiopia for Africans in the Diaspora willing to repatriate, Ras Jabulani laments African leaders’ indecisiveness and their fixation with intellectualism as opposed to practicality.
Of course he is referring to the imposing bust of Kwame Nkrumah, which is placed at the Chinese built and donated Africa House in Addis Ababa. Intriguingly the original Africa House was built and financed by Haile Selassie I. Ras Jabulani is annoyed that although Africa has the political independence, she has still not attained economic independence to truly become free. This condition has rendered Africans “willing slaves” instead of “chattel slaves,” precisely because African leaders are just operatives of the system that runs their economies from without. As a consequence Africans only have ‘culture,’ to flaunt, which unfortunately he says is being “over commercialised,” and is in turn blinding Africans from seeing the imperative of coming together (unity) as envisioned by the early fathers and demonstrated by Bob Marley who in 1980 hired two jets to transport equipment and later his band to the Zimbabwe Independence show in what was then called Salisbury at his own expense! He is however grieved by the hangover mentality that makes African brothers loathe one another.
For instance, why do we still call our brothers from across the border Makwerekwere he wondered? These are petty xenophobic prejudices borne of a slavish and colonised mentality. Africans, he says, must free themselves from mental slavery and trudge forward to the bigger picture, in which all Africa will finally be economically free. Trevor’s show jolted audiences not only to a self-awakening, but also revived the sense of belief, that Africa’s glory can be salvaged. Trevor, or Ras Jabulani, as he is now known, plans to return to Botswana next year February to commemorate Black History Month through music, exhibition and workshops.