Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Bobo Shanti
The first thing I noticed about this group of Rastafarians was their clothes. They have uniform men and women outfits, quite unlike Bob Marley and kind, who wear many different types of clothing. I noticed the backup singers for Bob Marley wore traditional African clothing, while he seems to usually wear casual, more Western style clothing, which thinking about it, seems a little odd. But the Bobo Shanti's clothing was more Christianized. The women wore nun-like outfits, and the men, long-sleeves and cloaks. The colors are specific to the Rastas, but the style is more Christian. This is very different from the Bob Marley kind of Rasta, who either employ African traditional dress or Westernized clothing.
In the beginning of the narration, it's revealed that the Bobo Shanti are "preparing for the moment to finally cross the Atlantic." As we talked about, Marley's take on the journey to Ethiopia/Africa is more spiritual, a mental state, instead of actually going there. However, these Rastafarians apparently still believe that that is what they should do. It's also said they are the most traditional, which is reflected in this. They haven't changed with the times. In Chapter 5 of Edmonds' book Rastafari, he explains how the Jamacian government started working with the Rastas and sent missions to African countries to see if they would take Rastafarians. But they weren't really wanted there. So after this, probably, is when the view started changing from a physical 'exodus' to a mental one.
The Bobo Shanti seem very isolated. More well-known Rastafarians live in Jamaican society and openly reject Western ideals and are active in speaking out with music. These Rastas however, seem to keep to themselves, at least from this video. They have their own views, but do not preach them using song or anything else. One of the women who speak though, says that they are scattered, so perhaps there are other Bobo Shanti who are more integrated into society.
There is a greater emphasis on the teachings of the Bible as well. I didn't notice much mention of the Bible in Bob Marley style Rastafari. There's influence from it of course, but no direct passages quoted, or specifics to the Bible itself, just the ideas within it.
The ceremony is also a big difference. Bob Marley style Rastas seem to do the go-with-the-flow kinda thing. The Bobo Shanti have more organized religion type aspects, with the rituals and praying and community activities. Overall, the Bobo Shanti are more Christianized, organized, and traditional than the Rastafarians like Bob Marley and those he reaches through his music.
And just as a last thought, did anyone else notice the part about the signs? There's a sign that says 'equality and justice for all people" and then the next sign is "black [over] white" as the narrator says "goodness over evil." I haven't noticed much dehumanizing of whites by Rastafarians, more rejection of white ideals as black ideals and the colonial rule, but this seems a little contradictory. I don't know if it was purposefully narrated that way, seeing whites as evil, but I would think that equality and justice for all would mean that blacks and whites were equal...