Rastafari movement exists between Toronto skyscrapers. Judah Wallo is one of the “One Love” culture forerunners in the financial capital of Canada. He originated Rasta Fest, the most popular reggae music festival that takes place in Toronto, and promotes artists from Jamaica, USA and Canada all over the world. He also teaches English at Ryerson University and is the president of the board of Regent Park Focus Youth Media Art Centre.
The herb corporal oils he uses smell various steps away and his locks fall under his bottom when he takes off his hat (he claims the term ‘dreadlock’ is a derogatory word the British created to fight the Rastafari culture). Nearly all the jewelry he wears relates to the ancient Ethiopian.
He was born in Jamaica 47 years ago, where his beliefs were formed. He went to one of the top schools in Kingston, where he was best friends with Ziggy Marley. “His dad was traveling most of the time. But I had the chance to see him a couple of times because he would come to see Ziggy playing football”, he remembers. They were best friends at preparatory school, but he doesn’t want to tell any private stories. “If you don’t believe me, look at this”, he says while he shows a picture with Ziggy Marley when after the show he played in Toronto two weeks ago.
Judah went to University in Hunstville, Alabama, where he took Computer Science studies and did his Masters in Urban and Regional Planning studies. He had his own reggae, afrobit and calypso radio show for 13 years in this city. “Everyone was infused about it. Alabama has the highest concentration of retired engineers in the world. That means its population is highly educated and multicultural and they were able to appreciate the music”, he explains.
He moved from the States to Canada after the 11S. “The atmosphere was very harassing. You couldn’t move around freely. Anything that looked different was questioned”, he remembers.
Since he moved to Toronto, he has been promoting reggae, afrobit and calypso music artists focusing in the ones based in Toronto. “A lot of Jamaicans have emigrated to Canada since the 50s, so there is a strong history of reggae here“, he explains.
Although Canada is said to be a very multicultural country, he contradicts this general idea: “I’ve experienced more racism here than in USA. There are many people from all over the world, but they’re not integrated”.
His favourite song to walk between impersonal Toronto skyscrapers is ‘Jah is my driver’, by Burning Spear.