Africa Connection

I had fun running the streets and clubs of Hackney and Islington. On Saturday nights I would turn on my radio and tune into David Rodigan or Tony Williams on a Sunday where you could hear Bob Marley’s “Exodus”. Bob Marley and the Wailers were a major icon on the world stage. The group put reggae on the world map. Bob Marley’s lyrics were almost prophetic. They tell the stories of the struggles of Africans through many generations. His music and lyrics called on us Africans to unit as one and look to Africa. Bob Marley was like the Michael Jordon of the reggae world, he was the path finder that laid the ground work for worldwide acceptance of reggae as a “pop music” and opened the door for the rest to walk through and with them came the Rasta Movement which is our connection to Africa, where we come from. Back in those days every youth aspired to be a Rasta. To get that “Irie” respect from your peers as you walk past them on Clapton High Road or while waiting around on Holloway road outside Sainsbury’s or even whilst riding on the 37 bus, on your way to Brixton market, gave you that cool feeling of being a part of “Dread” movement. To identify yourself as a Rasta is to be naturally connected to your African Roots, where we come from.

We were surrounded by Africa everywhere we turned. The only things stopping you from doing the total transformation to becoming a Rasta were your parents. Mrs Daphne, my mother, was a quiet woman. One day she caught me trying to sneaking out of the house with my hair all tangled up and un-comb “Go comb you head boy… you little retch” and of course right behind her would be Baba who didn’t even need to say one word. I just went back upstairs and fix the problem, but as soon as I leave the house I would put on my red, gold and green woolly hat, specially made for me.

The lady at Dalston market had a very good business doing special orders for woolly hats. In those days, every self-respecting youth had to wear one. You could have one specially made to suit your style or you could just buy one off the shelf. I always keep it stuffed with some old Sun or Daily Mirror newspapers to enhance the look of having more hair under there, so to speak. I would shape it just right to give it that authentic dread locks look that everyone recognize, and yes it had to have the red gold and green colors woven into the material. With the hat and my earthman shoe, I had no problem passing as a “Dread”. I was in my early teen then, but that was back in the days so let’s fast forward to today, the acceptance of the “Dread Locks” is now universal.

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Posted in UK highlights.