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Paul ‘Jahfet’ Winter - defined by my own conduct

Published:Saturday | December 31, 2016 | 12:00 AMOrantes Moore
Paul ‘Jahfet’ Winter

Reggae entertainer Paul 'Jahfet' Winter grew up in a Methodist household in Retreat, St Mary, but started incorporating Rastafarian principles into his lifestyle as he grew older and learned more about his culture and ancestry.

Although Jahfet no longer considers himself a Christian, he refuses to denounce his church schooling and cites his ministerial mother as a primary spiritual influence.

Speaking from a studio at the Wonder Music Complex in Rio Nuevo, St Mary, the singer told Family and Religion: "My mum is a pastor at the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, so as a youth living in the churchyard and growing up seeing her in church, I had no other choice but to be in the church.

"That's where I was introduced to the drums, and once I learned to play them, I started to find my own interest in church and didn't need her help anymore. Things took off from there, and I started doing my own thing, leading in service and joining the choir.

"Going to church, you learn all about Jesus, but when I started watching documentaries about African history, I learned something different, which I found much more interesting. It's not that I don't use what I learned in church up to today - because I do. The Church is the first place I learned to pray. But I'm defined by my own conduct, self-respect, self-esteem, and the things I eat, and that's where my Rasta thing comes in."

While there are more than 270 different church denominations operating in St Mary, Jahfet, whose recent releases include a moving tribute to South African activist Nelson Mandela, believes that the parish is in desperate need of genuinely religious people.




He explained: "Even though there are a lot of churches in St Mary, I don't think there is much religion there. And it's not just in St Mary, but all over Jamaica. People just adapt to what's going on sometimes.

"Some people only go to church on New Year's Eve, but I think that if you don't go to church for a whole year, going on that one day isn't going to make any difference. It's just like some people who grow locks and say they are Rasta, but aren't. It's just a style. To be honest, I think politics runs St Mary more than religion."

Similarly, Jahfet is disappointed that although Rastas are recognised internationally as an integral element of 'Brand Jamaica,' the Rastafarian message of universal peace, love, and black pride is largely snubbed in Jamaica.

He said: "Rasta has been ignored from day one; it's not just now. I've read and watched documentaries about how they used to run down Rastas, trim them, lock them up, and pass laws saying they could only be seen in certain places.

"Rastas have been getting that fight from day one. They called them 'blackheart man' and 'wicked people,' but at the end of the day, I think they are the real people, and one day things will change and the truth will come out."