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Mutabaruka Still Shot
Born26 December 1952
Rae Town, Kingston Jamaica
Pen nameMutabaruka
OccupationPoet, Songwriter

Rastafari movement
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Main doctrines
Jah · Afrocentrism · Ital · Zion · Cannabis use
Central figures
Haile Selassie I · Jesus · Itege Menen · Marcus Garvey
Key scriptures
Bible · Kebra Nagast · The Promise Key · Holy Piby · My Life and Ethiopia's Progress · Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy
Branches and festivals
Mansions · in United States · Shashamane · Grounation Day · Reasoning
Notable individuals
Leonard Howell · Joseph Hibbert · Mortimer Planno · Vernon Carrington · Charles Edwards · Bob Marley · Midnite · Mutabaruka
See also:
Vocabulary · Persecution · Dreadlocks · Reggae · Ethiopian Christianity · Index of Rastafari articles

Mutabaruka (26 December 1952, Rae Town, Kingston, Jamaica) is a Jamaican Rastafarian dub poet. His name comes from the Rwandan language and translates as "one who is always victorious". He lives in Potosi District, St. James, with his wife and their two children. Mutabaruka continues to perform and write poems on every issue known to man. He is known for his expression and lively performances as much as for the poems themselves. Some of his themes include sexism, politics, discrimination, poverty, race, and especially religion. Mutabaruka's stylistic form is in a way pathos related. He uses stories and experiences to get readers to think about issues in ways that they would not normally think about them.


Mutabaruka became interested in the Rastafari movement and converted from Catholicism while still a teenager.[1] His outspoken statements on theology have generated controversy, and he has described Rasta as "part of a universal quest which may also be pursued by other routes, such as Hinduism or Buddhism or Christianity."

Early life

Known as Allen Hope as a child, Mutabaruka grew up in the slums of Jamaica with his mother, father and two sisters. When Mutabaruka was only 8, his father died. He attended primary school where he received his nickname, "Mutabaruka". Later, he attended the Kingston Technical High School, where he trained in electronics for four years. Muta then began finding himself within his early to late teenage years. In the late 1960s into early '70s there was an uproaring of Black Awareness in Jamaica. Muta, who was in his late teens at the time, was drawn into that movement. In school he read many "progressive books", including Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice and others that were then illegal in Jamaica, such as The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Mutabaruka envisioned himself as a young revolutionary. While employed by the Jamaican Telephone Company Ltd, Muta began examining and immersing himself in the Rasta lifestyle. He found it meaningful and worth living for. He stopped wearing shoes, stopped combing his hair, started growing locks, and altered his diet. Soon after, he converted completely to the movement.

Later life

Muta left Kingston in 1971 to find a more satisfying environment. He and his partner and two children now live in Potosi District, St. James, in a house that Muta built himself. To the present day, he performs and lectures all around the world. To Muta, Rastafarian is part of a universal quest that may also be pursued by other routes, such as Hinduism or Buddhism or Christianity. He disapproves, however, of institutionalized religion. Muta was the first well-publicized voice in the new wave of poets since the early '70s. Like the poet Louise Bennett, Muta has built a living relationship and poetry with Jamaica. Early work by Muta was first presented in the magazine Swing, a monthly that gave fullest coverage to the pop music scene. Introducing "Outcry" (March, 1973), John A. L. Golding Jr. wrote: "In July 1971, Swing Magazine published for the first time a poem by Allan Mutabaruka.... Our readers were ecstatic. Since then, and almost in consecutive issues, we have derived much pleasure in further publication of this brother's works.... They tell a story common to most black people born in the ghetto.... And when Muta writes, it's loud and clear".[2] His 1983 release "Check It" was released on Chicago blues label Alligator Records. In 2008, Mutabaruka was featured as part of the Jamaica episode of the television program Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

Mutabaruka gave a lecture at Stanford University on 18 May 2000, addressed to the Caribbean Students Association. Muta expressed his views on the difference between education and indoctrination.[3]


Year Title Label
1982 Live at Reggae Sunsplash Sunsplash
1983 Check It! Alligator
1983 Dub Poets Dub Heartbeat
1984 Outcry Shanachie
1986 The Mystery Unfolds Shanachie
1989 Any Which Way...Freedom Shanachie
1990 Mutabaruka Rounder
1991 Blakk Wi Blak...K...K... Shanachie
1994 Melanin Man Shanachie
1998 Gathering of the Spirits Shanachie
1998 Muta in Dub Blackheart
2002 Life Squared Heartbeat
2006 In Combination Revolver Records
2009 Life And Lessons Gallo Record Company


Mutabaruka's first book, The First Poems, was launched in the 1980s and took off well. A sequel entitled The Next Poems was launched on 10 March 2005. The "double-barrelled" books are well known to the Jamaican community as well as other dub-poets. In the spring of 2007, Mutabaruka had the chance to teach African American studies at Merritt College. His time there further showed through in his poems.

On 20 February 2010, Muta was honored by the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) and the Rotaract Club of Mandeville for over 30 years of outstanding work in the field of the arts. Also, later on in 2010, Muta was recognized by Senegal.[4] In all of Mutabaruka's work, he never forgets to give back to the people who influence him. On 28 September 2010, Muta recited a tribute poem in honour of Lucky Dube, whose music "liberated the oppressed". Recently, Muta spoke at the First Jamaica Poetry Festival on 17 August 2011 in honour of Marcus Garvey and Louise Bennett. Leaving a mark on people who oppose you is very hard to do. Mutabaruka does this with extraordinary power, poetry. On the final day of the Rastafari Studies Conference, Muta was examined as an Icon by the professors of the West Indies.[5]


  1. Dunn, Pat & Pamela Mordecai (2004). "Matubaruka". In Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean literature, 1900-2003. Daniel Balderston & Mike Gonzalez, Eds. London: Routledge. p. 374. ISBN 0-415-30687-6, ISBN 978-0-415-30687-4.
  2. Culture Workers Bureau, CWB. "Ideas need to be explored, not ignored". "Mutabaruka". 1990, p.4.
  3. Mutbaruka Lecture. "Standford University".
  4. Walter, Basil. staff reporter. "Recognized by Senegal". 20 May 2010. Article.
  5. Cleaner,The "Examined as a Icon, A Visionary". 27 August 2010. Article.

External links

Further reading

Morris, M. (1996). "Mutabaruka". Critical Quarterly 38(4): 39-49.

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