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Kitesurfers Visit Ezekiel, the Jamaica Rastaman near Silver Sands
(Story by Geoff Gibson)

So one morning Prem says “you want to go meet THE Rastaman?” I'm thinking, yeah, right one of those guys with long dreads and a spliff stuck to his lower lip and a lot of roots cool attitude. Prem explained that Ezekiel is the real thing, and a true Rastafarian. The wind forecast for kiteboarding was light that morning (one of the few light wind mornings during our two-week kite camp in July), so what have we got to lose? We're off to see the Rasta. (I had my doubts, but what the heck!)

ezekiel playing the drum
Ezekiel, playing his Ethiopian drum.

Turns out Ezekiel's land is very close to the villas of Silver Sands Jamaica. I had passed it countless times on my way to and from Mysilversands. Even Prem, who had been there before, struggled briefly to find the rough dirt road back into the bush where Ezekiel makes his home. At the end of the road, we arrived at a curious gate fashioned from scrounged and found materials, but altogether serviceable. Ezekiel answered our summonses, and we entered his “world”. 


Ezekiel is basically homesteading (squatting would be a less generous term) on land owned by someone else, but completely useless for agriculture or development, due to it's location, and hilly terrain. Ezekiel took us on a tour of the land. I had only read about subsistence farming, but here it was in action, live and in all it's glory. He took us through his plantings of okra, peppers, avocado, oranges, limes, calabash, herbs, and more; and of course his stand of Ganja seedlings. Everything in a spot adequate to it's cultivation, and  needs. He uses the land in an amazingly efficient way, making small crops where conventional farmers would do no more than graze goats, if that.  As we wandered from planting to planting, I began to realize, this is no low life street dude hiding behind some quasi-religious beliefs, this is the real deal. He raises virtually all his own food.


okra okra with flower
Okra on flowering plant.


scotch bonnet pepper sweet sop on the tree
Above left, scotch bonnet pepper; and right, sweet sop on the tree.


We went back to Ezekiel's' modest house for some Ganja tea. I'm thinking “Ganja tea? We're going kiting in high winds in the challenging, choppy Caribbean Sea later, I can't be stoned.” Turns out the tea is made from the immature leaves of the plant removed to increase the potency of the smoke-able buds. You might feel slightly relaxed, but not intoxicated. Somewhat like the way Coca tea in the Andes helps with altitude sickness, but doesn't give you a buzz.


calabash on the tree calabash cup with ganja tea
Calabash, green and hanging from the tree; and calabash made into a tea cup.


Ezekiel explained that the leaves of many of his plants have various medicinal and health benefits ignored by most of Western Civilization. I was struck by the fact that my wife has begun investigating the health benefits of hemp extract, a close relative of Ganja, and long ignored.  As he prepared the tea, he expounded knowledgeably about the healing and health properties of the multitudinous  items he grows. I felt like I was back in college listening to a Botany professor expound on his field. We should have been taking notes! This is one smart guy. I wished my youngest son, who is a nutritionist, could have heard the informal lecture. It was impressive, informative, and pretty broad in scope. A key point in all of his discourse was the health benefits of his produce, as well as his Rasta commitment to purity in food, life, and care for the planet.


lea listening to the drumming
Lea, listening attentively to Ezekiel.


Tea ready, Ezekiel served us in cups made from the Calabash gourds that he grows for that and other purposes. The tea was excellent, reminiscent of a high quality herb tea you might buy in the supermarket. While we sipped, he brought out his drums and began to explain the role of drumming in the Rastafarian religion and worship services. He enlisted Randy to play the bass accompaniment, while he played a Rastafarian devotional on his drum. I was struck by the potentially trance inducing quality of the music, (especially if we had accepted his offer of some Ganja). Interesting  that this type of drumming in groups is gaining a following in the United States.


ezekiel and his ethiopian drum randy plays the drums and drinks ganja tea
Ezekiel playing his Ethiopian drum; Randy accompanying on bass drum.


Ezekiel showed us the tobacco he grows and offered to roll us a “hand made, rough out, backwoods, Jamaican cigar”. I'm afraid my skepticism takes a while to extinguish. I asked for one, thinking it would be terrible. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a good smoke, and reminded me of the local Puros I used to buy in markets of El Salvador. Not the best smoke I've ever had, but not bad, and amazing, given the surroundings.


ezekiel rolling a tobacco cigar
Ezekiel rolling a 
“hand made, rough out, backwoods, Jamaican cigar” from tobacco that he grew on this land.

prem and geoff relaxing as geoff smokes his cigar
Geoff, enjoying his cigar.


ezekiel rolling the cigar geoff with his cigar


As we took our leave, Prem agreed to help develop the web site for Ezekiels' group. They are raising funds to build a temple nearby. It was an interesting juxtaposition – modern technology in service of some pretty ancient beliefs and practices.


Find out about Scotch Bonnet Peppers.


Would you like to visit Ezekiel?

More Things to do in Jamaica.