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Elders and Reasoning
RAS TYEHIMBA: You are most famous for your participation in the Rastafari Elders CD which is a classic mix of reasoning and music about the Rasta Movement. Are you still in contact with some of the other participants who are also featured on the CD?
RAS MARCUS: Some of them have passed. Ras Pidow passed away here and we had a memorial service for him. If you look at that life in the early years, the Rastaman will say he really cannot die based on the teachings in the Bible. In the early days, a Rastaman would not pay him any mind. But we have reached the stage now [that] when a person in the Movement dies you have a funeral for him. That is another change in the Movement. But in the early days, they followed the Bible literally. Many elders who I worked with have passed away. Three bredrens on the album have passed. They were Bongo Headful, Bongo Bigga and Ras Pidow. Apart from that, over a hundred bredrens who I knew as elders when I was a young man have passed away over the past twenty years. All of us are getting older. I am sixty-seven going on sixty-eight. There are older bredrens who are suffering. They are not having much because the Rastafari Movement never built any industry.
All was vanity and vexation of spirit so he didn't want to have a whole lot of things upon earth. Now you grow old and you can hardly find anything to eat or anywhere to live. We didn't plant mango, orange and other fruit trees, and that was the earth to feed us. Everything comes from the earth. Those were some of the mistakes we made. We thought we were going back to Ethiopia shortly and we didn't plant anything to leave behind. Some of us grow old and die and never ended up in Ethiopia. Those of us who are in Ethiopia are not doing well socially; you don't have a lot of money or anything. It's all in Ethiopia. We have to correct those. We have to plant fruit trees wherever we are. We have to do some type of invention or industrial development so that we can take care of our wives and children and the elders can be cared for. That has to be done. If there is a Zion to go to, you would still be able to go because you would be doing good for the people. By doing good for people, you would end up in Zion. Zion is a holy place.
RAS TYEHIMBA: Are there any other issues of importance you would like to raise?
RAS MARCUS: Smoking was a part of the Rastafari Movement in the early days. I have known a lot of people who smoked. But as you grow older, you realize that smoking is not the best thing for your mind. You have to get your nose and your lungs to breathe fresh air. Smoke inhalation can kill people when there is a fire. If people want to smoke, they can smoke. But they should not kind of let it be a part of the doctrine. The younger people come up smoking and end up in jail because there is a law against it. They end up in prisons and leave their families behind to suffer. One must be able to have self-control so that they can get along without smoking. I do not smoke. I have had a lot of contention on the internet with some bredrens about it. You do not have to smoke to live. You can live without smoking. I am a living example.
We have to know that we passed away as a people. It's like the leaf that falls out of the tree in the Fall; so man will fall one day. That ought to become a part of your doctrine so that when a person passes on, whatever else you can do for them, you can do for them. As for me, you can burn me in a place with fire and that would be good enough for me. Do not spend a lot of money on funerals and that type of thing. They took away the land space where the farmers should be able to plant their food. Let love be among our people. Let us unite as African people. The Rastaman must unite with the ordinary African man and woman whether they have locks or not. We have to learn to take back the minds of poor people. We have to use the minds of poor people to solve our problems.
RAS TYEHIMBA: Reasoning and discussions are integral parts of the Rasta Movement. What is your perspective on the importance of reasoning in human development?
RAS MARCUS: Reasoning is a great part of the Movement. It is a different thing from argument. Reasoning is that you reason and examine matters together, examine the Movement and the course you are taking, and when the truth is established in the reason, everybody's edified and you move to another level. In an argument, you could spend hours arguing and resisting each other and sometimes burn up each other with fire, and you don't get any edification. Reasoning is a very vital part of the Movement. We used to reason. In the early days, one man would read the Bible and we would stop him and say, "Hold on there," and we would reason about that section of the Bible and then say, "Keep on brother." That man would keep reading and we would stop him from time to time and read out the interpretation the way we saw it, then each man would give his opinion. That was a basic part of the Movement in the early days. I do not know if it is done now. After a while, people probably didn't bother to read the Bible much.
The mind is the living book. After you have finished reading the Bible, you would probably see some kind of revelation that would come inside of your mind. There is a great internal teacher who lives in all of us called intuition. There are things that I have learned from my elders which, later on, I had to correct. They were not trying to deceive me. That was what they had and I took what they had. They were genuinely trying to help me, but as you grow older and your mind develops, you re-examine things and you realize there was another level of that thing, and then you have to move on to I and I. Reasoning is a very vital part of the whole Movement; of any Movement. By reasoning you may sharpen my mind because there are things that you know that I don't know. There are things that I may know that you don't know. Each of us is both a student and a teacher. The earth is a classroom and we can learn from each other as we meet. Once we can come with that acknowledgement that's a great form of understanding because understanding is what we have to use to learn. Be a great listener and be humble and then we can learn from each other. But if we can't be humble, we can't learn because we weren't listening to each other.
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