07 August 1981
Ras Hu-I: Merrise interviews the Rasta Doctor
Photograph of Ras Hu-I by Bill Sparrow from Rastafari A Way of Life by Tracy Nicholas and Bill Sparrow, Anchor Books, 1979
Ras Hu-I was a celebrated Rasta doctor whose clinic was located near the D&G bottling plant in Reading, just outside Montego Bay. When Merrise and I were in Jamaica in 1981, we were staying only a mile or so from his clinic. I wanted to go to try to interview him, but, to be honest, I was getting a little worn down by the constant interrogation which accompanied my every interaction with Rastas. Also, I was still coming to terms with the idea that I was a Backra man. Merrise occasionally suffered from migraine so I suggested that she might go and interview Ras Hu-I about his natural remedies. So she did. The quotes which follow are from the tape she brought back that day.
I had learned about Ras Hu-I from a book by Tracy Nicholas and Bill Sparrow called Rastafari A Way of Life (Anchor Books, 1979). Tracy interviewed Ras Hu-I extensively. He emerges – both through his words and Bill Sparrow’s superb photos – as a charismatic, wonderfully articulate Rasta philosopher. His life trajectory is fascinating. He studied medicine at university in the UK before returning to Jamaica where he opened his Divine Theocracy Temple of Rastafari clinic.
Merrise introduced herself and the work she was undertaking with young black offenders in the UK, many of whom identified as Rasta. Initially Ras Hu-I was reluctant to be taped because “there is a lot of profiteering in the field of Rasta.” However, on hearing that Merrise’s purpose was to play the tape to the young men and women she worked with in order that they could hear an authentic Rasta voice, he relented.
“You see the Rastaman here now is far different to the western culture,” he began. “There is no creation, before and after, in Rasta. Rasta is a living masterpiece. Rasta has been compounded with divine ingredients. Rasta know that western politics, religion and commerce are three deceiving, corrupted monsters. Rasta know that the by product of all these is Christianity. There are some people who take Rasta as a religious people. One must know that Rasta are are divine people, Rasta is a divine temple. We have no time for material luxury. Within the western hemisphere it is far different. There are a lot of people who look at Rasta as what you might call Christian, or ancient Christian people – Rasta isn’t like that. Rasta at all times is the Arc of the Covenant. Rasta have been sent to do one main job, to guide back the evil people to their nation, to their homeland. That’s why Rasta is here. No other reason. If you should see Rasta, Rasta is the only light, the only bridge, the only pathway unto eternal joy, unto life everliving. There is no other way outside of Rasta. Heaven is Africa, where man was first created and was cast out to the western hemisphere because they violate divine orders.”
Merrise asked him what he thought about Rastas in England. “In England, they are what you might call religious Rasta. They do it as Christian-like people. They do it according to society. They are trying to find some identity. They are slipping and sliding back into their colonial, what you might call, slave master attitudes. They are becoming part of their slave masters, a carbon copy of their slave master. They eat from their slave master table. They eat flesh!”
Merrise interjected and told him that not all UK Rastas were like that. Ras Hu-I paused, considered her objection and then continued: “Well, they go to dance, they drink beer, they gamble, they play games. Divine people have no time to do these things with sinners. Rasta is so divine, it is so detached, it is so aware of the spiritual contacts that they have no time for what you might call material pleasure.”
Ras Hu-I then seemed to relent a little and acknowledged that it was hard for Rastas to maintain divine principles in a strange land. “England is too corrupted, too wicked, too evil, it’s too nasty for I and I to live in, because Gentile people know no cleanliness. They use black people to cleanse them. I know where they came from, the Anglo Saxons. I know the foundation of them. They came seven thousand years ago, as part of Adam’s fallen race. They came from the dust of the earth. Very poor material built up these people. I would take no active part in such material. I is looking for solid material. Solid stuff that can stand the pressure, truth, tribulation, friction and reproach without slipping and sliding, standing up and falling.”
He then reproached Merrise for following in her slave master’s culture, promoting that culture and in the process becoming a carbon copy of the very thing she should be fighting against. Naturally, Merrise objected to this and said she could not agree.
Ras Hu-I continued: “Quite likely you may not agree but let’s just look upon the divine, before he was exposed and transplanted to the western hemisphere – did we not have a creator? Was we not divine people? Since when we fall to the low bottom, the dregs of Christianity. Since when your divinity, your divine qualities, become so low as Christianity. Think of it. Think of your royal qualities. Once you was in robes, made with diamonds and with gold. Once, before you was taken and transplanted in the western hemisphere, can you not remember where you’re coming from? Take a good look and see if you are not being bribed and influenced and being rash. By empty treacheries, by weak ministries, by insidious smiles, by crowns and titles, by gold and silver, man fall victim. They are using you. Let us look into ourselves and defend black solidarity, black beauty, black consciousness and divine qualities.
“I and I black people must remember one thing: the western hemisphere exists through our labour and our wealth. It was built by I and I the slave, it was built by our gold, our silver, our oil, our diamonds, our mineral, everything. Out of our land they get their wealth, their power, their fame, their authority.”
Merrise then went on to ask Ras Hu-I to explain a little about his philosophy and practice of medicine. “Western medicine came into existence approximately 600 years ago. I was living before that, I was treating people before that, I was a physician before that. So for that reason, these things were not embedded in I and I. I only pass through western institution that I may be recognised by western medical philosophers, that’s the only reason why. Not to know about biology or to study biological science – I know about medical science already. I believe in herbs because there are more powerful active ingredients that have never been discovered by western scientists in herbs. I knew that herbs was before man, I knew that botanical medicine was before man, I knew that these active ingredients within these herbs are for the use of men. If a person revolutionise their eating habits, he would never need no form of medicine, so medicine come about by your eating habits.
“That’s what cause death and that’s what cause pain. A person who become a walking cemetery, living dead, because he is full of stinking corruption and dead animal carcass and need anti-biotics to eliminate these forms of toxins. Think about it: ‘anti’ means against and ‘bio’ means life, so it’s against life. I would never encourage anyone to take any active part in western medicine. No form of western medicine. It kills.
“I always tell my patients to eat natural things, not what their slave master tell them to eat, because before the slave master exposed them to western culture and ideas, they was living 960 years. Now they’ve been transplanted into a new culture, they live only 60 and 70 years, and that is to say how much their eating habits have been corrupted, because what you eat is what you use to build up your system. So the greatest thing to keep alive is to keep the system fit and strong that light, energy, divine consciousness may have the ability to flow within your system.
“We should try to eat like the three divine forces of creation, earth, air and water, sun moon and stars. We should try to eat like the plants. They doesn’t eat dead flesh. That’s the reason why Rasta doesn’t rate Christians because no one that have any divine principals or God-like qualities can do those things. Where is their sympathy, where is their compassion to life? Christians, they are cannibals. Western people are cannibals. They fill up on dead flesh to try to find the virtue of life.”
Afterwards, when Merrise returned from Ras Hu-I’s clinic, we listened to the tape. Although I couldn’t agree with everything he said – how could I, as a slave master/Backra man? – something must have penetrated because not long afterwards we both stopped eating meat, a dietary restriction we have maintained ever since. And, I almost forgot: Merrise asked him about her migraines. Ras Hu-I suggested she try natural vegetable juices, especially organic cucumber juice. She did. She hasn’t had a migraine since.