The Speaker and the Rasta poet

The Speaker and the Rasta poet
The Dominion Post
Thursday, 15 May 2008

Back from hob-nobbing with East European leaders, Parliament's Speaker
Margaret Wilson has now enjoyed a tete-a-tete with visiting Rastafarian
poet and philosopher Yasus Afari.

But she shunned the limelight again, overriding a Green Party invitation
for the media to photograph the meeting at Parliament yesterday with the
Jamaican guest of Green MP Nandor Tanczos.

Mr Afari said he could understand why Ms Wilson did not want to be seen
with him - "but she was extremely gracious and hospitable" and showed
interest in Jamaica, reggae music and the concepts of the Rastafari
religion. She had described Mr Tanczos as a role model for the strong
local Rasta community.

Mr Afari, who presented Ms Wilson with a copy of his book Overstanding
Rastafari - Jamaica's gift to the World said the movement did not like
to be stereotyped because they were cannabis users. Like many other things in nature,
cannabis was there for the use of humankind and criminalising it "was an
insult to the creator, because he is the one who allowed it", he said.

Followers "were schooled in Christianity which said in Genesis and
Psalms that every herb is for the use of man".

"We reserve the right to utilise cannabis as a sacred supplement just
like the offering of wine and bread in the church as communion and the
burning of incense in the orthodox community."

Mr Afari has been on a two-week tour of New Zealand and has visited
schools and marae.

He also took part in recording sessions with music performers, including
King Kapisi and The Mighty Asterix.