Rastas go ‘home’, but the locals worry if it’s gonna be all right

Above: Members of the Jamaican community in Shashemene,
Ethiopia.

The Scotsman

By Tim Albone

Published Date: 14 August 2008

Shashemene, Ethiopia – WITH their flowing dreadlocks and blaring reggae music the Rastafarians in Shashemene look slightly out of place.

The beaches and rum bars of the Caribbean are just a distant memory, swapped for the dusty, landlocked streets of southern Ethiopia. Despite the town being crippled by a massive famine, the Rastas, as they are commonly known, insist they are home and happy.

Teddy Dan, 54, who is originally from Oxford and father to 16 children, told The Scotsman: “We are African. It’s eight years now, going on nine, since I returned home.”

Mr Dan is typical of many of the Rastas who call Shashemene home. A former reggae singer, he became disillusioned with life on the road and the materialistic lifestyle.

He said: “I went to school in England in the Seventies, we were taught all about the slave ships, but I thought there had to be more to this history than they taught in school.

“Coming home (to Shashemene] you see good people stay silent. We need good people to agitate for Africa, in Africa people are suffering more than all.”

Another Rasta, Papa Rocky, who has lived in Ethiopia for 30 years, holds a similar view.

He said: “I speak for the oppressed. I’ve been oppressed all my life, I’ve been beaten across my loins … I want to be what I am, an African.”

In 1947, in reward for their worship, Emperor Selassie gave the Rastas 500 hectares of prime land , 250km south of the capital Addis Ababa.

The first 12 families arrived in 1963, but after the overthrow of the emperor by Mengistu Haile Mariam, a Marxist military leader, the land was whittled down to 11 hectares.

However, the number of families has increased and today there are about 500 families, mainly migrants from the Caribbean, who all call Shashemene home.

The majority of Rastas live a holistic lifestyle, eating only vegetarian food and eschewing alcohol. Controversially, they also believe that marijuana is a gift from God. And their substantial intake of the drug has led to some suspicion from locals in Shashemene, many of whom believe that they have introduced it to their young. Read More.

8 Responses to “Rastas go ‘home’, but the locals worry if it’s gonna be all right”


  1. 1 DJ Aug 14th, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I guess I know where I’m going to go to get some good weed when I visit Ethiopian. lol

  2. 2 Abram Aug 14th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Of course, the Rasta have gone home to Ethiopia. The rest of the World is to join them soon. I wish they could get rid off that smoking stuff!

  3. 3 Ras Antar Oct 28th, 2008 at 11:31 am

    “In 1947, in reward for their worship, Emperor Selassie gave the Rastas 500 hectares of prime land , 250km south of the capital Addis Ababa.”

    The 500 hectares was not given to Rasta “for their worship,” but was given to Africans of the diaspora for our support during the Italian-Ethiopian war.

    In terms of the smoking stuff, Cannibus, Hemp, Ganja is the healing of Africa and all nations. All persons concerned should do some serious research. Hemp is one of the greatest industrial products available to man. It could solve many of the vexing problems being faced by many African nations. Soil erosion, deforestation, environmental problems and hazards being caused by unnatural cotton plantations are just a few problems that can be solved by Hemp/Cannibus cultivation and industrialization.

    In America, where hemp was originally criminalized, Cannibus could replace many industrial and medical products. Many hemp activists suggest that this is one of the main reasons it is criminalized. One of the first directors of FDA was also tied to a textile industry that saw hemp as a direct threat to business. Not to mention that some of the first anti-cannibus laws were racist and aimed at Mexican immigrants. African nations should not be crippled by others policies on something so important to African industrial potential and culture.

    It is also worth thinking about and researching the fact that the name Ganja is Ethiopian in origin.

  4. 4 Ras dashin Dec 25th, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Ganja is another name for marijuana. The word is ofter times associated with the west indies, but the truth is that it originated in India.

    ORIGIN: The word Ganja actually comes from the word Ganges, referring to the Ganges River, which is a river in India where Cannabis Indica grew naturally. Cannabis indica was brought to the west indies, and is therefore referred to as Ganga.

    For those who didn’t know.
    “While swiming in the ganges river, I came across some Ganja, so i smoked it.”

  5. 5 EthioPatriot Jan 7th, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Ras dashin. The Ganges River was named after an Ethiopian King. Research it.

  6. 6 Ethio-American Apr 3rd, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    it’s just blows my mind that my ethiopian people (im ethiopian btw), have their country flooded with alcohol, khat, and even some tobacco.. yet are either ignorant of cannabis or think it’s bad… they dont even know that there are priests, monks, and religious students of our Church (btw I am Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo) who use this herb for medicinal purposes and as a means to expand the awareness of the Lord and increase the desire for knowledge.. so yes that means medically and spiritually it is used.. but you will have a hard time hearing about this

  7. 7 abey Dec 20th, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Ras teferians are the most decent and natural people that i’ve ever seen.Big up!!!

  1. 1 African American and Ethiopian Relations at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Aug 14th, 2008 at 7:11 am
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