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Prison life, Rasta and release - Few stripes for Zebra part II

By CLAUDE MILLS, STAR Writer


Zebra before his five-year incarceration. - file

For the first time deejay Zebra, currently serving his second sentence for rape, speaks from the St. Catherine District Prison. Today he speaks about his abandonment by the deejay fraternity and the love of his father,...

WHAT HAS BEEN the toughest thing about being in prison?

"The toughest time is right now, the present, 'cause mi still de ya, and my toughest time nah go end till me come out alive. The injustice of it too big. Up to this time, yu have to watch yuself, watch yu headback, everyting yu do, yu have to bend your mind to serve yu time.

Since his time in prison, his relationship with his father has strengthened, his Rastafarian faith has grown, and he has been able to forge "multiple friendships with the staff, and the rest ah de inmates here."

"The joy is unexplainable; me ah de only one of his children who do music, so mi get everything outta him, so the father, so the son. Him mek his music when no money neva de pon it, ah just small money, no strong currency, so when I come out, I plan to do a combination wid him, do some fresh tune, give him back a joy," Zebra said.

Asked about the turban he is wearing, and the Rasta paraphernalia, he laughed and responded: "Well, remember ah me did say Selassie I Send Mi Fi Warn."

Zebra said that the words of Marcus Garvey, and books he had read such as Self, Mind and Consciousness has strengthened his intellect, made him more self-aware and focused. He says that the life of Marcus Garvey is an inspiration to him.

"Marcus go prison, him lef prison and come be a star. Mi a go follow that trod," he said. "Remember, ah me say further on."

Release date

Zebra plans to apply for parole this year. According to prison officials, first-time offenders are allowed to apply for parole six months before their parole eligibility date, but he is required, as a second-time offender, to apply eight months before that date.

"I plan to get a form soon, and apply because I have got my letters together, the address where I am going to stay, the studios I am going to be working and so on. Nothing before the time, mi just ah go apply and take it from there."

When is your earliest possible release date?

"Well that will be in the morning, with the rising of the sun, y'know."

Yes, but when?

"In prison," he said, leaning forward. "When yu come out, that is your release date, because who knows, something terrible might reach me afta mi lef da interview ya. The date when I come out alive, that is my release date."

It is here that the other men in the room chuckle knowingly.

How do you feel about other entertainers dissing you as a rapist on stage shows?

"Dem can tease me all dem want, but I not going to answer dem, and gi dem a hype, mi have all the stripe, man ah kill man fi tek off dem stripe, but me, mi born wid my stripe. No man caan get no ride offa Zebra, only Xena alone can ride a zebra."

So, what you learned during your incarceration that makes you a better man?

"I learn that you have to be on your side. Any side I am taking must be my side. I get a deeper feeling about life, especially with the love of my empress dem. I am not afraid to die, because if you are afraid to die, you will be afraid to live and vice versa. So I learn to enjoy the small moments, the quiet moments, the time with family, that is life."

He said he regrets some of the things he did when he was viewed as a major dancehall act.

"I was on a hype ting, around some hype modelling females, ah par with some hype yutes, so when mi catch the buss, mi just explode the hype pon dem. Children live what they learn, y'know, and at that time, that was Zebra, ah only I and I did a guide I self, no damagement, no tooking agent, so ah just so it go. Mi mek some wrong choices, is a set-up ting and ah so it work out."

Free Jah Cure

How do you feel about people saying 'Free Jah Cure', and artistes cursing you on stage shows and referring to Zebra as merely "a rapist"?

"Ah me name Garfield, my feel a different feel. Mi come from Princess Field ... well, mi happy fi Jah Cure, ah fi him time to shine, dem want him to shine, and I like that 'cause one hand caan clap. So mi no mek dem tings de badda me 'cause mi read the paper more time and see tings, but mi no dwell pon dem negatives."

Any last words?

"Well, mi name say it all. The world is strictly black and white; my name says unity, - black and white must come together. Pon a zebra, yu have the black and the white close together, and yu caan tell if is a black animal wid white stripe, or a white animal wid black stripe, so that tell yu dat unity and peace in the world is possible. We can be one, we just have to believe," he said.

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August 29, 2005
 

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