Ras Haitrm: A Musical Connection between Mozambique and JamaicaJun 25, 2022 03:00PM ● By Candice Stewart
Ras Haitrm, Photo credits: © Adam Kroll / Bokaap Productions / Bruce Carosini / Mirko Polo / Simon Callahan / Sista Irie Photography / Tchambalakate / Word Sound and Power
The African nation of Mozambique is found along the south-eastern side of the continent. It was colonized by the Portuguese and gained independence on June 25, 1975. The country was gripped by civil war soon after becoming independent. Still, the country is underdeveloped, marred by acts of the ‘Sons of Mocimboa’ with abductions, the burning of homes and other gruesome acts of violence.
Additionally, a slowdown of economic growth has occurred following the hidden debt crisis in 2016. That crisis led to another crisis of economic governance and a protracted economic slowdown with growth falling to 3 percent between 2016 and 2019. The slowdown continues due to the natural disasters in 2019, the insurgency in Northern Mozambique since 2017 and COVID-19 since 2020. Despite the heaviness of negativity, hope stands tall with the discovery of some of the largest natural gas reserves in the world.
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Though some contextual background is critical, it does not have to be the focal point. In the midst of celebrating Mozambique’s independence, it is important that positive information about the country is highlighted. Despite the trauma of war, poverty and a generally negative public image, this south-eastern African country boasts positivity through a son of reggae music.
Ras Haitrm was born in 1980 in the midst of a civil war in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. Born as Rui Paulo Matavele, the reggae artist grew up with music about war and the African struggle that surrounded him.
As a youngster, Rui acknowledged and accepted that music would play a primary role in his life. When he was seven years of age, he received his first hand-made guitar from an older friend. As fate would have it, the musician now plays bass, drums, percussion and many traditional African instruments.
He also grew up listening to musicians such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Burning Spear, who were heroes of Mozambique freedom fighters in the 1970s when they were battling Portuguese colonization. All three are among the stalwarts of Jamaican reggae music. It may have been this exposure that inspired his desire and dream to record music and collaborate with Jamaican musicians in the home of Reggae.
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In April of 2016, Ras Haitrm visited Jamaica and formed a creative relationship with the legendary Firehouse Crew. This led to his album entitled, “Go and Tell the World”.
The Mozambican musician connected with the Firehouse Crew by way of a mutual friend. He met with the drummer of the Firehouse Crew, George “Dusty” Miller, who agreed to collaborate with him. The collaboration facilitated connections with other Jamaican musicians including, saxophonist, Dean Fraser, singjay Jahbar I, and guitarist, Winston “Bo-Pee” Bowen.
In a 2017 interview with the Jamaica Observer, Ras Haitrm said, “I didn’t expect to meet the Firehouse Crew as it was not planned from the beginning. So, it was a very big shock for me and still is until now, to realize I was accepted, in a way, into their circle”.
Ras Haitrm’s repertoire generally addresses social injustices that happen worldwide and to provide a sense of peace among his listeners to remind them crimes against humanity will not last forever. As a Rastafarian, he also has music about spirituality, Black and African pride, as well as cannabis, more loosely called ganja.
His Discography with the Firehouse Crew includes the following songs:
- It’s Not For Long
- Do You Remember
- Special Mind
- Jah Before I
- Go and Tell the World
- Kota Kota
Other songs by the Mozambican reggae artiste include:
- No Fo Long
- Bad Time
- There is Something
- Ancient Africa
Ras Haitrm has released four studio albums, thus far, in the musical journey: Go and Tell the World (with the Firehouse Crew), Serious Times, Zion Bridge (with Guerreiros de Sião), and Tough Road (with Word Sound & Power).
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He continues to represent Mozambicans well as he is a true visionary. He embodies humility, respect, and demonstrates his musical talent to positively impact the world as a result of a life shaped by extreme circumstances.
So, instead of leading thoughts of Mozambique with the negative news information, lead with uplifting music instead. Lead with music from Ras Haitrm and other Mozambicans like him.
Long time coming for Ras Haitrm – The Jamaica Observer
Ras Haitrm: Mozambique Reggae Soldier – Ras Haitrm Artiste Website
Mozambique needs a new growth model for sustained, inclusive growth – World Bank Blogs
Sons of Mocímboa: Mozambique’s terrorism crisis – BBC Africa Eye documentary
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