Thursday, 30 December 2010
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
I still remember the first time I went there. I was an
eight year old boy and the big forest kind of frightened me. Being born in so called Green Lungs of Poland (North Poland) I was used to all kinds of forests but the one in Bialowieza seemed amazingly
big and unknown. Even nowadays, whenever I have a
chance to go there I can't resist the feeling of being
lost in a magical shadow of trees older than anything I
have ever had contact with. There is something addictive in its majesty that makes me feel like an orphan every time I have to leave the forest and there is nothing I can compare this to.
Situated on the border between Poland and Belarus,
the Bialowieza Forest complex (1506km2) is a relic of
lowland European forests that once extended across the
continent. It is a place in which the last fragments
of primeval temperate old growth forest have survived.
It is home to many species extinct elsewhere (among
others - European bison, the largest terrestrial
mammal living on this continent) and one of very few
places where evolution has not ceased. The stands
of primeval characters are a sort of unparalleled
living museum, offering us a window into the past,
through which we can still observe how forests
ecosystems functioned without human interference.
Diversity of life in Bialowieza Forest is
exceptionally high, so far about 3 000 species of
fungi, 1 000 species of vascular plants, 250 species
of mosses, and 350 species of lichens have been
recorded. Fauna of the forest is equally rich,
composed of ca 10 000 species, 85% of them insects.
New species are constantly being discovered and
described. Richness of avifauna - over 250 species
recorded, approximately 180 of them breeding, makes it
a place of global importance for bird conservation
(BirdLife International criteria). Bialowieza Forest
is also the only place where the full community of
European forest ungulates still exists. Diversity of the
Predatory community is unusual too. Over 30
co-occurring species of carnivorous mammals and birds
of prey make it one of the richest such assemblages in
Europe. What's more important, this predator community
coexists with their prey.
Norway spruce - 55 m, Scotch pines, small-leaved limes
- 42-45 m) and circumference (oaks - 720 cm, limes -
600 cm). Surviving old-growth, muliti-species,
multi-storey, uneven-aged stands of natural origin
preserve features of ancient European woods, of vast
forests which once covered the whole lowlands of
temperate Europe. Having with all this in mind it becomes
almost impossible for someone who is not familiar with the
polish environmental policy to imagine how endangered
such precious areas are.
Since the XVI century till World War I the
Forest had been protected as hunting grounds for royal
families. After the Second World War, the forest was
split between Poland (45% of area) and Belarus.
In the Belarussian part timber extraction was less
important, and a few years ago that whole area of
was declared a national park.
National Park covering only 8% of the area, the commercial
cuttings have been continued. In nearly 80
years of exploitation, timber extraction has had the most
dramatic effect on the Forest. During that time the
majority of primeval stands were removed and replaced
by even-aged, mostly coniferous plantations, and share
of old-growth stands of natural origin has dropped to
a mere 20%. In spite of some recent restrictions this
removal of remnants of primeval stands is still going on. If
we are unable to stop this process, all stands of
natural origin will be gone in the coming years, and
the last European primeval forest will be only
campaigning to set a ban on cutting old stands and
enlargement of the Bialowieza National Park so to
protect the whole forest complex, but till now with only
limited success. The Year 1994 marked the beginning of
the nation-wide campaign to save the Bialowieza
Forest. The chief idea was to expand the existing
Bia³owieza National Park to cover the whole Bialowieza
Primeval Forest. Substitute protective measures, such
as the establishment of the so-called "Forest
Promotional Complex" within the local Forestry
Authorities, as well as turning Bialowieza into an
International Biosphere Reserve were implemented.
However, they did not guarantee the sufficient
protection of the entire forest and ultimately
inhibited efforts to enlarge the Bialowieza National
Park (national park status ensures the highest form of
nature protection in Poland). In 1996, as a result of
a massive nation-wide and international support and
the pressure placed on the Polish authorities (foreign
activists travelling to Poland, demonstrations in
front of Polish embassies abroad, over a half million
letters and petitions), the Park was enlarged but
still included only 17% of the entire Bialowieza
Neither the establishment of the Forest Promotional
Complex, nor the enlargement of the Park was
sufficient to protect the remaining, most precious
old-growth stands outside of the park borders from
extensive logging. Therefore, the campaign continued
pushing for a moratorium on cutting the old growth
stands throughout the entire forest. At the beginning
of 1998, the Minister of the Environment announced the
Government's pledge to extend the national park status
over the entire Bialowieza Forest during its
administration period. Shortly afterwards the Chief
Nature Curator (Mr. Janusz Radziejowski, still in this
position) stated more concretely that the whole
Bialowieza Forest would be granted the national park
status, at the latest, by January of 2000. In July of
1998, the General Director of the State Forestry
issued a directive banning the cutting of all
old-growth (100-years-old and older) tree stands. So
far, this moratorium has been the biggest success of
The enlargement of the Park was supposed to be
undertaken by the Ministry of Environment via the
so-called "Contract for the Bialowieza Forest". This
document was also published in English and widely
spread at international meetings (including those with
the European Union). In conjunction with the Contract,
the Polish Sejm (lower parliamentary body) designated
30 million PLN (approx. 8 million Euro) towards the
"expansion of the Bialowieza National Park". The money
was earmarked to cover the costs of restructuring the
Bialowieza Forest region and support local economy.
In February of 2000, the Minister of the Environment
approved the Directive on the enlargement of the
Bialowieza National Park to include the entire forest
by January 1, 2001, thereby making it legally binding.
Two months later local demonstrators opposing plans to
enlarge the Park threw eggs at the Minister of the
Environment during his visit in Bialowieza. This
demonstration was organised by the State Forest
Service and included approximately 800 people.
campaign among local inhabitants suggesting that the
enlargement of the park would cause economic decline
in the area and even destroy the local Belarussian
ethnic identity and cultural heritage. At the
beginning of the next year the Minister of the
Environment withdrew the Government support for
enlarging the Park. Simultaneously, the Polish
Parliament approved a new Nature Protection Act,
making it generally more difficult to establish
national parks (under the new legislation, all
surrounding municipalities must agree to the park's
creation or expansion).
that the moratorium on the cutting of 100 year old
trees should be abolished. The Environmental Minister
allows the forestry authorities to perform intensive
sanitary cutting of spruces, even in the reserves,
because of high occurrence of bark beetle.
Currently, economic exploitation of precious natural
resources from the Bialowieza Forest hangs on
decisions made by the local Forest Promotion Complex
Government revoke the moratorium, and intensification
of logging in the forest. Consequently, the part of
the Bialowieza Forest outside the National Park
borders is threatened with destruction of its globally
unique values. As the logging operations are
concentrated in the remnants of natural old growth
stands (plantations are still too young to provide
valuable timber) they will be gone in the coming
years. We treat this as the single most
environmentally destructive undertaking in Europe.
invaluable fragment of wilderness for the interest of
just one generation.
What do we want to achieve? To save the Bialowieza
forest it is necessary to protect whole its area in
the highest possible form. All human activities within
the national parks have to be subordinated to the
demands of nature conservation. No other form of
protection (area of protected landscape, landscape
park) sets so stringent conditions, and "biosphere
reserve" has no meaning in the Polish legal system.
necessary to save the Bialowieza Forest. Therefore,
our goal is to persuade the Polish government to
include the whole area of Forest into the Bialowieza
campaign to save the forest. So if you could inform
your public opinion about the Bialowieza Forest
problem, spread the news to your decision-makers
(politicians and bankers) and journalists, and make
them to act, we would be really grateful. Remember, it
is not only an internal affair of Poland, every human
being has been given right to be concerned and act.
Please note as well, that if the primeval forest is
lost, it is not only our, Polish failure, we all will
loose. For more information and/or to make a donation
contact the international co-ordinator of our campaign
Workshop For All Beings
Ul. Raszynska 32/44 lok.140
02- 026 Warsaw
(by Annerose Reiche)
Tibet is one of many places on this globe where human rights are broken in the most extreme way. Since it was illegally annexed by China in 1950 this unique culture is falling and fundamental human rights are continually being broken.
In 1979 China introduced regulations concerning birth, which included such laws as the necessity of sterilisation and in many cases unbelievably dangerous and cruel abortions. Chinese law allowed Tibetan women in villages aged between 25 and 35 years old to give birth to two children, and those in towns were allowed to only give birth once. These laws were further enforced when in 1984 a new policy was introduced which allowed women to have a maximum of two children.
Abortions are also made to women in 9th month of pregnancy! In such cases injections are made to the mother’s abdomen, which, may be done by inserting an electric device into the womb through the vagina. One of remedies used for abortion is IUD-92, which often causes infections and other serious health problems.
Additionally, perhaps the most inhumane method practiced on Tibetan women is the so called „cut & bind”, which means cutting oviducts and than binding them. Don’t even try to visualise this. In hospitals where these „operations” are carried out the women’s life is in constant risk, for instance, most often the only way of sterilising medical tools is by cleaning them in hot water. This is even more truer of women who are unable to get to hospitals where little if any medical care is provided which usually results in serious consequences for the patient.
Moreover, the Chinese occupiers have a penalty system, which penalises women for breaking these various ‘birth laws’. First of all „over the limit pregnancies” are punished with high fines. The children who are „over the limit” and survive are exempt from any basic social rights like registry, education and health service. A terrifying statistic of this horrendous situation is that according to reports from an independent source during last 20 year about 15 million female featus were killed in China.
Tibet (“The Tibet Autonomus Region” – TAR) is a very religious country and religion is something positive which is used to protect its culture and nationality. Lots of women dedicate themselves to becoming Buddhist nuns, in many cases due to political reasons. By choosing this role women gain respect within the Tibetan society.
Tibetan women are those who command our respect for their attendance in their country’s fight for freedom.
According to report “Tibet Justice Centre” during the Chinese aggression women formed the first front line resistance. They in fact organised a rebellion against China in 1959. As The Government of Tibet in Exile says, „in 1969 nun Nyemo organised rebellion on such big scale that it spread through eighteen provinces and even Lhasa was threatened”.
Nuns arrested in such political protests are kept in prison for many years, including terms in prison for hard work. Conditions for them are extremely hard; tortures like burning with cigarette, striking with electric stick to the most sensitive body parts are part of daily life. Rape of female prisoners is also a regular occurrence. The most famous prisons for this kind of horrible practices are Drapchi prison in Lhasa and Gutsa.
According to some of the latest information twenty four Tibetan women are in Lhasa prison sentenced by a court for political activity. Taking part in „free Tibet” demonstration cost some of them 9 years in slavery. Other harsh punishments are 5 years for writing a „free-Tibet” slogan.
The majority of women who are kept in prison are very young with the average age of 23. The price they pay for being so dedicated to their country’s freedom is the highest possible.
On 4th of October 1988 China ratified convention against tortures, which was signed on 12th of December 1986. Chinese representation announced United Nations in 1988 that all obligations are acquitted. Since ratification lots of people died from being tortured or were killed during demonstrations or just couldn’t stand the repressions and killed themselves (in China about 250 thousand people commit suicide yearly, most of them are women). In 1993 and 1996 United Nations’ Committee against Tortures asked China to establish rules stating independent judicature and forbidding tortures.
People from all over the world (by organisations like „Students for free Tibet”) appeal to international organisations and governments for justice for the Tibetan people, but realy has any campaigns been effective. Few prisoners were released for „good behaviour” by the Chinese government.
The most important thing right now is that people keep fighting for human rights in Tibet and that we must never let this situation become obscured and forgotten by other problems in the world right now.
* Ngalang Sangdrol which was put to prison for political reasons as the youngest (15 year old girl, now 24 years old nun) and the longest imprisoned Tibetan women in 2002 was released!
* In may 2003 China gave Tibet 64 modern well equipped cars which are planned as mobile clinics to help in „planning families”, giving contraception (Xinhuanet, 5 May 2003). Refugees say that in fact they are something different. Compulsory abortions and sterilisations are made there.
Havnevik Hanna, Rola mniszek we wspó*czesnym Tybecie, non ed.
*ozi*ski Krzysztof, Piek*o *rodka: Chiny a prawa cz*owieka, Danzig 2000.
Sanocki Adam, Przemoc wobec kobiet w Tybecie, non ed.
Tybet. Czas *elaznych ptaków, HFPC, Warsaw 2002.
Tybet. Od Lito*ciwej Ma*py po Trójnóg Narodowej Jedno*ci, HFPC, Warsaw 2001.
Tybet. Stare duchy nowe duchy, HFPC, Warsaw 2000.
Tybet. *wiadkowie. Fakty mówi* za siebie, PSPT, Warsaw 1993.
The Tibetan Women's
An Introduction to the Tibetan Women's Assocation - Its aims and objectives and projects.
A State-Owned Womb - Violations of Tibetan Women's Reproductive Rights
A Report by The Tibetan Women's Association, Central Executive Committee, Dharamsala
National Report - Tibetan Women Oppression and Discrimination in occupied Tibet
THE Women's Desk at the Tibetan Government-in-Exile has compiled this report to highlight the particular concerns of Tibetan women inside Tibet and those living as refugees in exile. This report also includes a list of recommendations which, it is hoped, will serve as inputs to the discussions for the Draft Platform.
Tears of Silence: Tibetan Women and Population Control
A Report by The Tibetan Women's Association, Dharamsala, May, 1995
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Mutabaruka is an amazing man, a vegan rastafarian who challenges the assumed concept of rasta=ganja smoking. A drug-free dub-poet with more years of veganism than I have of life.
He has been addressing the very same issues as most of the poliical vegan-straight edge kids have. It is not only recommendable but we would say essential to get acquainted with such a man. Pay him a visit at his homepage , get the records, listen, and learn. What follows is a collage of a myriad of dispersed interviews through the web and through the years.
When you hear the conviction and power behind the words of Mutabaruka, it’s not hard to believe that this dub poet, actor, comedian, producer, publisher, entrepreneur and radio host has been dedicated to inspiring black people everywhere with his words of self-determination, empowerment and spirituality for the past 30 years. Drawing from Rastafarianism and the significant contributions of Haile Selassie, Marcus Garvey and Malcom X, Muta’s words open the mind and offer insight into the deep-rooted ills of blacks worldwide. On his new album Life Squared, his first since 1994, Muta continues to explore the black liberation struggle through music and his riveting, eloquent and unwavering pan-African expressions.
For someone who obviously has so much to say, and has said so much over the years, why has it taken you so long to put out another record?
Mutabaruka: My thing is not about putting out records, y’know. I’ve been busy doing other things. I’ve been touring a lot, and I have a radio program here in Jamaica that takes up a lot of time. I’ve also been back and forth to Africa many times, the U.S. and Britain too, as well as running my bookstore. My time has been taken up by travelling instead of going to the studio.
Has the state of the world right now prompted this album at all, or has it just come back to the point where you have time to record?
Muta: I just decided that I have to make a CD of where I am at right now in poetry and mind.
Your words definitely have a way of sticking. They stay with you long after you’ve heard them, and I feel that Life Squared is very reflective of our global situation.
Muta: We all evaluate things and see things differently. Sometimes an artist sees the world a little different from a normal person. They see from another eye, so we reflect what people have in their minds but don’t have the opportunity to say publicly. People would say what I say in my poems if they had the same stage as me.
How do you see the situation in Iraq and the domino effect that it has set into play?
Muta: It’s all about the New World Order. It’s all about manipulation and control. It’s all about crusading, and the Western world trying to impose Christianity and democracy on people who have nothing to do with that idea and that consciousness. The capitalist world is under the impression that if the whole world is not Christianized and democratized, we will make sure that you are.
I understand you conduct "reasoning sessions" at the University of the West Indies?
Muta: Actually, yes. They gave me an honorary fellowship up there.
What does that entail?
Muta: What it does is allow a person who does not have any university or academic qualification, but is able to articulate philosophy, to mix and communicate with the students up there. My job is to interact with different ideas and thoughts, especially my views on Rastafari and the African perspective. People have heard me on the radio for 10 years and hear me saying certain things that is out of their normal mindset, and they want it to be qualified, so most of the things we discuss are about God and Rasta and world issues.
I’m interested to know how people in Africa respond to what you have to say to them.
Muta: Africa has so much problems going on within itself that it is very difficult for them to react to what is going on in the rest of the world. Many African leaders are not African-centred, and don’t understand the relationship between Africa and history, or the part that it played, and the part it can play in today’s world. They have this European dream, this European mindset that because they went to university in London and Paris they can carry that idea back to Africa and impose it on the people, who have no idea what it means to be a British or a French person. People talk about the end of apartheid in South Africa, but the end of apartheid is a political idea that has not manifested politically and economically. The wealth and means of production is still owned and operated by whites and foreigners. If Africans try to reclaim that economic power, they are stagnated by American blocks, and people who think that they are out of place and wrong for doing so. It’s backwards.
You said religions suppress women. What about your Rasta religion?
Muta: Well, I don't see Rasta as a religion. Rastas don't have a church where they go and gather and say the same thing. Rastas allow you to keep your individuality. Rasta is a way of life. It can be a religious idea, a religious concept. Religion is when you have a group of people gathering in one place to express the same dogma.
But why don't we find reggae songs against suppression of women?
Muta:You are not listening to Mutabaruka, son!
I will check it.
Muta: Check it! That's the first album, too. The first album is named `Check it.' (laughing)`Hard times love'. There's a poem named `Hard Times Love'.
But we do also find sexism in Africa!
Muta: Of course there's sexism in Africa. Sexism reached Africa by way of the Arabs, by way of the Muslims who invaded Africa before the Europeans came there with their patriarchal religion. Because in Africa there was no talk of a God that was a `he'. God was `her'. Mother Earth. Mother Nature. Most Africans see God in the feminine. It was not until the Arabs came into Africa that the patriarchal system started to develop and it has flourished even to West Africa."
Do you accept VIOLENCE as a means to fight for freedom?
Muta: I say the means do have to justify the ends. Any means that is necessary to bring freedom, you use that means. We are not violent. We are not preaching a one way to freedom. There's no specific way to freedom. We have to do it as it comes.
What do you think about Mahatma Gandhi, who liberated India without using violence?
Muta: Well, them killed him! They killed Martin Luther King and he was not violent and they killed Malcom X, because he was violent! So, what it is all about?! Any which way freedom must come!"
You also write poems about Native Americans like "Big Mountain". What do you think about their situation?
Muta: Anywhere Europeans go they give people a rough deal. They are going to Africa, they are going to America, they are going to India, China,- and the Native Americans have got one of the worst deals, with the land taken from them and now they're in reservations. We feel a kind of closeness to them. We have been amongst them and we experienced what they experienced. The suicide rate amongst Native Americans is large!
I don't overstand, why they put up with that. Do you know why they don't do anything to change the situation?
Muta: Well, we ask YOU, too! Why don't you do something against it!? White supremacy is not only oppressing black people, it's oppressing white people, too. White supremacy is what control the world!
But why do they not fight to get their land back?
Muta: They are doing things. Yeah, they are doin' tings! We've been there. Maybe it's not publicized as much. Every day people are struggeling for freedom! They say: Push a dog aroun' for so long, but one day that dog will turn and bite you!
Can you explain the DIFFERENCES between your music and the music of other reggae musicians?
Muta: The difference between my music and others is that I'm a poet just saying the poetry. The others are making the poems become songs. And I am concerned with African centered ideas and thinking and beliefs. We keep in context with Africa. What we talk is coming out of the ancient African philosophy.
What is more important for you,- the lyrics or the music?
Muta: I'm a poet. I'm a poet first. The words is why reggae music is big. It's not the music itself. The music is good but it's because of what it is said in the music. Over the years people recognize Bob Marley lyrics as a liberatin' music, as a upliftin' music. So it's really what he was saying ,- what he is saying. That's why I don't try to sing. I can't sing but I can speak. And when we speak the poetry we hope that people listen.
What can Blacks learn from the White man and what can Whites learn from Blacks?
Muta: We have learned enough now! (excited)We want to learn from ourselves now! The education of Rome, the philosophy, the Roman philosophy has caused enough problems right now that we need to come out of it,- both White and Black! Because that's the destructive element right now on the earth!"
What can we learn from the black people?
Muta: Life! Life is existing in a world, when we can eliminate White supremacy. Because, it's because of White supremacy why we have all of these elements of destruction that is taking place. The implements of destruction that is made - the atmosphere pollution, the wars, the First World War, the Second World War...! When white people fight against white people they say it's WORLD war! I didn't involve in the war! I was in the Caribbean drinking coconut water and reggae music and you hear them say it's a WORLD war! But,- you see: When the Africans kill the Africans you hear it's a TRIBAL war!
What is wrong with Europeans?
Muta: Europeans is going into other people's space and manipulating that space. White supremacy affects all of us in every aspect of life. White supremacy is in entertainment, is in politics, is in religion, it's in sex, it's in industry, it's in all of them. Africa without European's domination. That would be nice. But Europeans have also embedded a neocolonialism inside of Africa now. The black leaders are so European. A lot of them want to go to Paris to marry a white woman. They don't have Africa at the forefront. So my vision is Africa with just Africans controlling it,- just like Europe is controlled by Europeans.
How long have you been a vegetarian?
Muta: About 30 years. I was on raw food for about 7 years, and I went back for 3 years, but I think I going to come back again and continue.
What made you transition into raw foods?
Muta: Raw food is the way to go. Cooking kill the food. Everybody knows that. Live food for live people. Sometimes you find it very difficult to keep up with it. It's somewhat of a mindset, it's a mind thing.
Is there a community of folks in Kingston doing raw foods?
Muta: No, there's not a community. You have one and two people that are doing raw food, but most Rastafarians are vegetarians. The raw foods are the next level. Actually we did kind of try the fruitarian thing for a while, but we came off of that.
How was that?
Muta: It was nice. It was nice.
You have it all here…
M: Yes, the fruits. Sometimes it's very expensive though. It was nice, though, to experience the different levels, the different stages of understanding how your body function. Anytime you become like that you start to know what you want, how your body function. A lot of people don't know how their body function. When I first become vegetarian, and really moved into the step of raw food, I learned more about my body. It's like you are the one who is building your temple. You are like the contractor who is constructing your body so you know exactly what is what. If something hurt you, you know why it's hurting.
What are some of the traditional foods that folks are eating who are not necessarily raw but are vegetarian?
Muta: Well, it's a normal vegetarian food. Rice and peas, stew peas, green vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat flour. Tofu is a staple…and gluten (seitan).
It's a typical vegan diet?
Muta: Yes. No animal products. I don't use animal products. I don't use it. I don't wear it. I never given my children animal products. They don't know how cheese is made—egg, honey—none of those things. None of those things, nothing from animals. I grow up my children them that way. But I am the only one that make the transition to the raw food thing. But a lot of Rastas, they're into it. You have different stages. Some people eat fish, some people don't eat fish. Some people drink milk, some people don't drink milk. My concept of vegetarian is vegetable. “Vegetarian” come from vegetable. I wouldn't include milk and cheese and egg and these things. That is not vegetable. When I say vegetarian, I don't have to say “vegan.” That is terminologies now that make the thing get strange. People say they are lacto-vegetarian and vegan-vegetarian. You can't be a lacto-vegetarian and a vegan-vegetarian. You're either a vegetarian or you're not a vegetarian. A vegetarian is a person who only eats vegetables. So if you are drinking milk and eating fish...you can't have a semi-vegetarian.
Do you have any advice for people who are curious about vegetarianism but have not made the commitment?
Muta: Well I would say to listen to your body. You have to just know what is good for you. You can't have no strict hard and fast rule for anybody. You have to know what is with you. You have a lot of people who are making the transition to vegetarianism who have this concern about where you get your protein from. Anybody who you tell that you are becoming a vegetarian will say, “Well, where will you get protein from?” They feel as if protein is the most important thing out of the foods. But most people spend too much time trying to figure out protein. There's too much protein already being taken. So when somebody eating fish, chicken, saying them looking for protein, you already have your protein in basic nuts, beans, grains. Brown rice have protein. Red peas, most of the peas, most of the nuts, is mostly protein. I don't think they should be concerned with it. I think we have been brainwashed in this protein thing. We already have the protein.
Can you explain what dub poetry is?
Muta: Dub poetry is Jamaican poetry to music, especially reggae music. What we do, we use the music to compliment the poems. Most of the poems is basically a social, political or religious commentary. We use the reggae music to express it. So that is why they call it dub poetry, because Jamaican music at one time was dub music. Now they would call it reggae poetry.
Are you considered the father of dub poetry?
M: The father? (laughs) Well, you see when I was doing poetry they didn't call it dub poetry. It was just poetry to music. Dub poetry just come later on down because they wanted to identify a kind of poem. I don't really like the term still because it kind of limit you to that. A lot of my poems, especially on my CDs, would draw from different black musical perspective. We're very African-centered. A lot of my poems would draw from the black experience, the musical experience of black people all over the world. You don't want to just limit yourself to reggae.
Who are some of those musical influences for you?
Muta: Well, we just listen to every music that black people make, especially African music. You see, when we started to write the poems, we had a mind of music, a music mentality because we loved to play music, and we listened to a lot of music. I couldn't name the specific musicians as such. Depending on the poem, we use a type of music. We used to listen to poets like Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, Marcus Garvey. We used to read Marcus Garvey poems. In the sixties when we used to go to school, there was Sonia Sanchez, Gwendolyn Brooks, LeRoi Jones. We started to develop out of that Black Poets experience.
Do you see a relationship between diet and consciousness? And, if so, how have you seen yourself grow spiritually as a Rastafarian due to your change of diet?
Muta: One thing vegetarian allow you to do is to become more compassionate. What I get to understand within the vegetarian concept is that all life is one. It's just different manifestations of flesh. The cow, the goat, the bird, they all flesh. Is of one source, the life source. Even the tree is of one life source. When it come down to flesh now, man wasn't made to eat flesh. Your body don't assimilate flesh as such. When you stop eating flesh, you kind of recognize a certain compassion inside of you. You feel like, wow, the cow, he don't eat animal, him just there, he don't trouble nobody. So you kind of start to feel like why should I kill the cow? The cow don't trouble nobody. The cow just eat greens everyday. The goat eat greens everyday and don't trouble nobody. That feeling take hold of you and you start to go into yourself. You start to get feelings toward things. You start to feel more developed into a being, a person. And then you take it from there within the consciousness of what people call God. We move within a level of man taking responsibility…
If you kill animals it don't mean that you won't kill a man. Even when the Bible tell you “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” it never said “Thou Shalt Not Kill man.” It said “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and full stop. So who's to say what it is talking about when it say “Thou Shalt Not Kill”? If God wanted animals to be your food, him wouldn't make them with foot to run away, and with eyes. Food not supposed to have eyes and mouth and nose. That is not food. Food cannot have eyes. That is crazy.
It help me as a person to understand what really is this thing that is life. As a Rasta man, it allow you to keep a certain sanity in all this confusion. It allow you really to keep a certain train of thought. Because you're thinking on life, and how to sustain and maintain life in its glory, in its fullness, in its totality.
So even like me, I wouldn't say that I'm not going to eat animal, but then I wear animal product. That is contradictory to me. If a man say him don't eat cow, but him wear leather shoes, that kind of thought is contradictory because it's the same perpetuation of the killing of the animal to make clothes and to eat… Human being is the only creature on earth that kill to create clothes.
Did you see any subtle differences between eating a vegetarian cooked diet and eating raw, in terms of your consciousness?
Muta: Yeah, man! Definitely. The raw thing is a higher level. It's like you walking a line, but it's not a line really, because it make you so balanced. I don't know. Things start to feel more to you. It gets you more aware, more quicker. You don't sleep as much. You're not as sluggish. I remember when I used to be raw, I didn't want to sleep. It was like I was starting fresh. I didn't want to sleep, but you're supposed to sleep. I had to realize that there was nothing wrong with me. Sleeping is not a thing where you have to sleep eight hours. You eat less. You definitely eat less when you eat raw food.
Three meals a day is a crazy thing. It's a western thinking. Three meals a day is a man who is soon dead. And it's kind of ridiculous to eat three meals a day when people don't eat one meal. When you're a vegetarian and you start eating tofu and gluten, it's almost like you're eating meat. But it's not as sluggish. But the raw food thing—you eat less, you're not as hungry. You just eat when you feel like you want to eat. Sometime I eat because I afraid. I didn't really want to eat, but I didn't eat for a long time so I feel I should eat something. It keep you alert.
How have you seen your music and poetry develop and mature? In your relationship to—
Muta: Eating? Well, the poetry that I write now is just looking around me and seeing things that is happening around me. My poetry mostly is social, political, African-centered. My thinking of black, Africanness, was there before me start to go into this raw food. We were more aware of our blackness before. So it just continued that way. What the vegetarian did was put it into perspective more. You wear Africa, you eat vegetarian, anytime you talk it's African. You kind of get a respect for that. It's what white people say is “wholistic.” White people say everything is wholistic. It gives you a wholistic approach to Africa.
Everything has to be directed toward an African-centered perspective. So what we eat and what we wear and what we think has to be in relation to our Africanness. So, my poetry now is just an expression of my Africanness. What I believe African people should do and what I think white people are doing. So my poems go against white supremacy. We are Marcus Garvey people. Anytime we talk, its about Africa. It's a way to fight against white supremacy. So the food is just a next aspect. It's not really the aspect because we are talking the liberation of African people, whether we eat meat or not.
Is that liberation external or internal?
Muta: Liberation in every way. Marcus Garvey say, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.” The mental slavery right now is more damaging than the physical slavery that we was once in. Black people get complacent right now with slavery. They think that there's no slavery. So they get very complacent. But the slavery right now is more devastating than the slavery of old because our foreparents could see the chains, so they took out the chisel and they break off the chain on them foot. We don't see them chain, so we think no chain is there. So we get so domicile and so complacent in the European mentality. So we don't really feel it.
Part of the thing that is the matter is the food. McDonald's is one of the biggest drug houses in the world right now, but people don't see it as that. It's white supremacy. Americanization of mind. It's more than just eating a burger. It's all about an institution that is inculcating a culture. So we have to understand it even more than just the physical. It's a mental thing. A man don't hunger but go have a McDonald's. Why you don't hunger but want to have a McDonald's? Because them advertise it that way. Them portray it that way. That we are fighting against. And we use the poetry to do that and we use just our own lifestyle to do that. Every time we move, every time we act, that is what we do.
Well, thanks very much for talking with us.