40 people – 7 teachers, 32 students and 1 bus driver – experienced cultural immersion when they slept over at Judah Square, Knysna’s Rastafari community, late in August 2014. Organised by the University of Capetown (UCT), the students were a diverse bunch hailing from Germany, Brazil, Switzerland and South Africa.
It was the biggest group sleep over Judah Square had accommodated. With only 6 beds for backpackers, the homes of local residents were opened to them for a personal and interactive experience.
Their Thursday evening arrival was, for both sides, tangible with excitement. The guests were given a hearty welcome from local youths and elders. They were then whisked off for dinner in the Information Centre which had become the dining room for their stay. They enjoyed traditional Jamaican, vegetarian cuisine and pineapple and ginger juice, home made by resident chef, Iboh.
From there, they were taken to their various hosts where they dropped off their bags before heading off to enjoy ragga music. Energy was electrifying in the packed dub hall as I Cliff and the Reggae Ambassadors performed. Everyone danced and sang along to the songs they knew. Two of the students, ‘I man Tommy’ and several of the other Rasta’s took to the microphones as the evening progressed. No-one wanted to leave. It was a true, one-love vibration.
All slept well. Early risers joined the tabernacle drumming, chanting and prayer at 6am. After a healthy breakfast of fresh fruit salad, muesli, cereals, yoghurt, toast and tea, they were given a guided tour of Judah Square wherein they learned about the Rasta way of life, community projects and runnings. They gave great support to stalls boasting arts, crafts, curios and Rasta clothing – the economy of Judah Square was boosted all round.
The students expressed an unforgettable experience. It was a wonderful opportunity for Judah Square to not only share their way of life but a taste of Knysna too.
The tour group had booked the whole package for only R300 p.p. This included accommodation, dinner, breakfast, entertainment and a tour of the community. Judah Square hopes to share the Knysna experience with many more. Visit their website at www.JudahSquare.co.za.
Article by Sista Kerri & Mike Hampton.