My Rastafarian Insperience

November 1, 2012

I was invited to go to an Extreme Sports movie festival this past weekend and joked that I couldn’t because I was going away for a weekend of extreme culture. Man, it didn’t disappoint. Nestled in the hills surrounding Knysna in the midst of the township – Khayalethu – is the largest Rastafarian community in South Africa – Judah Square.

Khayalethu Township

 The Kayalethu township, just outside Knysna

Like the rest of the township, Judah Square is affected by poverty, but recently joined up with the innovative Knysna Tourism Board to offer overnight tours to the community. I stayed in a small B & B run by one of the elders of the community – Sista Kerri.

Sista Kerri

Our hostess – Sista Kerri

Originally from Australia, Sista Kerri has lived in South African townships for over 10 years, and is one of only two white people living in the Judah Square Rastafarian community. On Sunday morning we went on an “official tour” of the community and also the nearby forest where members of the community are involved in environmental work with local government agencies. Our guide was the enthusiastic brother – Bra Zeb.

Rastafarian Tour Guide

 Official Tour Guide – brother Zeb (check the dreads!)

Bra Zeb’s talk was entertaining, animated and informative. Rastafrianism is a serious religion (one of the fastest growing in the world) based on teachings from the Bible and a belief in the divine providence of former Emperor of Ethiopia – Haile Selassie.


Judah Square Mural

 Haile Selassie – Former Emperor of Ethiopia

Due to their use of ganga, Rastafarians face an ongoing struggle about being type-cast as more of a drug cult than serious religion. However ardent Rasta’s honestly believe that smoking Ganga is a holy sacrament that is integrally bound with their daily religious life.



A verse from the Biblical book of Revelations citing the use of ganga for the “healing of the nations”.


Two Rastas

Rastas sharing a Sunday morning fist bump and ganga pipe


With the incredible health benefits of Cannabis finally being recognised all over the world (medical marijuana is now legal in many US States) the Rastas believe that their time has come for the South African government to allow their community members to possess small amounts of Ganga for their daily sacramental use. A delegation, led by spokesperson – Brother Maxi – is leading negotiations.

Judah Square spokespersonBrother Maxi – Judah Square spokesperson

Rastafarians are a peace-loving people, with strong family values and every member of the community is valued. They are strictly vegan, avoid alcohol, and don’t smoke tobacco. They live as natural a life as possible and are staunch custodians of the environment.

A Rasta KidA Judah Square child


Rastafarian couple

Rasta man & wife. Monogamy is strictly upheld.


Sister Kerri

Our gracious hostess – Sista Kerri (her dreads were tucked away the whole time we were there but when they’re out, they reach the floor)


Find out more about the Judah Square Tour. You can see my full set of Rasta pics on Flickr

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