Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
CEDAR SPRING, St Elizabeth:
RAY 'BONGO Ray' Morgan's black, wrinkleless face, framed by tangled dreadlocks, glistened and glowed. Mischief and mystique twinkled in his eyes when he spoke. His laughter was mocking and self-assured. He's in his early 60s, but his trim, lithe, diminutive body looks like that of a petit 16-year-old youth.
This father of several grown children has a spouse young enough to be his granddaughter, and a son, 'Ragga', young enough to be his great-grandchild. "A behave mi a behave miself. Mi can mek nuff more," he recently told Rural Express while grinning impishly. It's like he's living a life of eternal youthfulness.
To this, the self-described herbalist, "magician", and bush doctor has attributed a diet free of canned food, soda drinks, tobacco, meat, and other foods which he called "manacle". His favourite bottled drink is Dragon Stout. Roots tonic is also on his menu. And he uses 'bush medicine' to detoxify his system. "When yuh flush the system, it mek the system irie," he said.
On the hillside above his humble abode in Cedar Spring, St Elizabeth, he plants pak choi, corn, tomatoes, okra and other vegetables on a piece of land that has more stones than earth. He eats fish, he said, but not every type. And though he grows tobacco and rears goats, he doesn't consume them. They are for whoever wants them, he said.
When asked if he had ever been seriously ill, he replied with a resounding: "No, man!" He declared, "Even though Babylon say I man a 61 years old, I no have no illness."
But Bongo Ray's life is not only about being healthy and "obeying nature", he said. "Mi father say mi must come help others who have all kinds of trouble," he declared. This father is the one he calls "His Majesty" who, he said, showed him "a bright light above the Earth". This was in 1967 when he was very young, he said.
In making several biblical references, he said His Majesty gave him the knowledge of using bushes and herbs to cure all types of diseases, and since then, he has been curing people from many parts of the globe. "Every type of sickness, even when doctor give up, and he reach which part I deh, as long as him reach I, and I no pass him fi dead, him wi live," he said.
While he was chatting with Rural Express, a man with a bandage on his lower leg dropped by. He seemed to have gone to Bongo Ray for help. Bongo Ray fetched a black plastic bag containing an orchid-looking plant (Moses in the basket) and another with kola nuts ('bizzy'). He said he uses them to treat "bad foot" and gangrene caused by diabetes. "All wha 'maggish' (maggots) drop outta, I get them better. Is not always what to do, but how yuh do it," he said.
He believes some people get sick because of the things they eat, especially meat and white flour. "I nuh eat meat because I can't afford to contaminate my blood - because when I go eat dem flesh deh, it tek every five year to dissolve outta I system. It give all different type a disease," he stated, "It gives them a heavy belly, and when the belly heavy, dem have supp'n called fibroid. It gi dem infection, and likkle more it gi dem womb cancer. Nuff a dem come here and mi cure dem."
With a smug, almost sarcastic laughter, he derided people who love meat and gravy. "Craben choke puppy and greedy dog lost his bone," Bongo Ray Morgan warned.