Mutabaruka Has Not Worn Shoes For 40+ Years; Does Not Rule Out Wearing Them Though

Dub Poet Mutabaruka says there are numerous of reasons why he has not worn shoes over the last 40 years, but none of them has to do with his Rastafarian faith.

“A 40-odd year now mi nuh wear shoes.  And people seh ‘Muta Why yuh nuh wear shoes?’   I don’t know what to answer them, because there’s a multiplicity of reasons.  Becaw a nuh me one as Rasta nuh wear shoes.  Yuh have Rasta out deh weh nuh wear shoes.  Me is di most popular Rasta who guh pan plane an nuh wear shoes,” he explained.

“When I did a come inna Rasta, a whole heap a wi neva did a wear shoes becaw wi start to shed tings…   Is a whole heap a wi inna di bush a shed tings…,” he explained noting that among the things he and his brethren gave up at the time was, swopping plates for calabash and coconut shells.

According to Muta, his decision came as part of a rebellion against popular beliefs held in Jamaica at the time that going shoeless in public and locking the hair was a sign of mental illness.

“It was a like a rebellion too.  It was a rebellion that seh if yuh locks and yuh walk without shoes, yuh nuh have no ambition an yuh mad.  An mi kind a stubborn dem way deh and dem seh yuh naw guh achieve nuttn inna life if yuh walk barefoot and locks and dem ting deh,” he explained.

“Suh mi seh ‘meck wi si wha a guh gwaan den’.  Suh mi a rebel and seh ‘mi a guh walk barefoot’.  Plus, mi walk barefoot an mi kinda pick up certain tings… when people look pan mi, mi can tell yuh wha dem have inna dem mind, wedda dem a tink good or bad or wedda dem a joke it out.  Mi can tell yuh,” he added.

Muta said in many temperate countries that he has visited, people have been aghast when they witness him stepping out onto ice barefooted. 

“Hot an cold a di same ting, suh when me walk inna England or guh all a Switzerland and dem place deh, an mi a walk inna di cold below zero, an when mi guh inna Israel deh, inna Jericho we a 120 degree Fahrenheit, an mi deh a Jamaica, an people seh ‘lawd God, yuh foot baw bun yuh?’  An mi guh a America an dem seh ‘lawd, God yuh foot huh cold?’  Mi a seh my nose feel more cold dan my foot’,” the ‘Cutting Edge’ host said.

The Did Poem author also pointed to how things have changed from when he started going shoeless four decades ago, to present day where a man who went shoeless for just six months, was even made into subject matter for a documentary by the BBC.

“Mi si a man inna England guh a east an him nuh walk wid shoes fi six month and mi si BBC guh dung deh guh interview him, and mi a seh ‘but look pan dat’,” Muta remarked.

Several songs have been voiced over the years mentioning Mutabaruka’s barefootedness, among them Nuh Baadda Bex by Professor Nuts and Truth a Guh hurt dem by Elephant Man which poked fun at several artistes.

“Muta yuh haffi guh do suppm bout yuh heel dem/when yuh walk mi si di crack pan yuh heel dem,” Elephant Man had mocked in his song.

Professor Nuts had joked that he witnessed where Muta had to quickly purchase shoes after his bare feet made connection with an asphalted road on a very hot day in Jamaica.  He deejayed:

“Now, Mutabaruka, him a mi bredrin
Him neva wear shoes yet, yuh a hear mi sistrin
When di sun melt di road an di asphalt teck him
Mi sight Mutabaruka inna one criss Vikin”

Muta said during the I Never Knew TV interview that he had never suffered any injuries on his travels, and that, ironically, the worst injury he has ever sustained occurred in his own yard.

“The point is that over the years walking barefoot show me another perspective, that next perspective weh mi nuh waan give it up.  The only way mi eva give it up, if suppm happen to mi foot.  Di worst cut mi eva get, a inna in my yard,” he said.

“An all people a seh mind yuh walk inna bakkle an – mi neva get cut inna di road yet,” the Peoples Court artiste said.  

While maintaining that his decision was not a religious one, Muta said he was not averse to wearing shoes.

“Is not a religious ting.  But hear how people stay now, if mi put on a shoes now, people woulda seh: ‘bwoy, Muta get rich an switch’.    It wouldn’t feel no way if mi wear shoes,” he said. 

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