The world seems so much simpler when we consider the good vibes and bad vibes in our lives. That’s how Alan Espinoza explained Rastafarianism to me. The Rastafari movement started in Peru around 20-25 years ago, arriving in Lima and spreading even to the Central Andes here in Huancayo. There are now around 30 Rastas in Huancayo, including 4 women, many who have come to know about the community through Alan’s store.
In this short video clip, Alan introduces us to his many facets as a Rasta, reggae artist and entrepreneur:
Ganja (or marijuana) is a double-edged sword. If you are guided and know how to use it, you can get to know yourself better, but it can also take you down a bad path when combined with other drugs or used for the wrong reasons. This doesn’t have anything to do with being a Rasta.
Smoking marijuana puts me in a state of meditation so that I can analyze myself and see my environment as it really is. As Rastas, we believe that the world is contaminated and is under the control of the demon. We live in Babylonia (in confusion) and the demon doesn’t want people to open their minds, so he prohibits marijuana.
Reggae is popular music from Jamaica. It’s separate from the Rasta culture, but Rastas propagated their beliefs through reggae music. It was a form of communication and this is how it arrived in other countries like Peru. Some Rastas don’t even listen to reggae music because they consider it as coming from the devil.
Six years ago, I finished high school and entered university under pressure from my parents. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I studied administration for two years. The experience made me feel like another servent of the system, so I left. My heart asked me to find my true self. My whole family is more conservative and responsible. As the youngest in my family, they went crazy about me becoming a Rasta and leaving school to start a business based on my talents, something that I had dreamed about since I was a teen. Only my Rasta brothers understood me and my way of life.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of government support in Huancayo. The government has funds for youth, but they don’t use it. It’s a waste because Huancayo has a lot of potential and talent. Worse yet, people that are part of the system discriminate against us. One time, I was hanging out with some friends in front of a Rasta brother’s house when a police officer told us to disperse just because of the way we looked. This is why we need to know our rights. We asked for respect and spoke with authority without putting ourselves at his level. He eventually left. I think people like that lack culture and education.