(born Allan Hope
, 26 December 1952, Rae Town, Kingston, Jamaica) is a Jamaican Rastafarian dub poet. His name comes from the Rwandan language and translates as "one who is always victorious". He lives in Potosi District, St. James, with his spouse and their two children. Mutabaruka continues to perform and write poems on every issue known to man. He is known for his expression and lively performances as much as for the poems themselves. Some of his themes include sexism, politics, discrimination, poverty, race, and especially religion. Mutabaruka's stylistic form is in a way pathos related. He uses stories and experiences to get readers to think about issues in ways that they would not normally think about them.
Mutabaruka became interested in the Rastafari movement and converted from Catholicism while still a teenager. His outspoken statements on theology have generated controversy, and he has described Rasta as "part of a universal quest which may also be pursued by other routes, such as Hinduism or Buddhism or Christianity." Although he is a rastafarian, Mutabaruka doesn't smoke "ganja"- a Jamaican word for Indian hemp. He plainly stated this in one of his poetry performances.
Known as Allen Hope as a child, Mutabaruka grew up in the slums of Jamaica with his mother, father and two sisters. When Mutabaruka was only 8, his father died. He attended primary school where he received his nickname, "Mutabaruka". Later, he attended the Kingston Technical High School, where he trained in electronics for four years. Muta then began finding himself within his early to late teenage years. In the late 1960s into early '70s there was an uproaring of Black Awareness in Jamaica. Muta, who was in his late teens at the time, was drawn into that movement. In school he read many "progressive books", including Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice
and others that were then illegal in Jamaica, such as The Autobiography of Malcolm X
. Mutabaruka envisioned himself as a young revolutionary. While employed by the Jamaican Telephone Company Ltd, Muta began examining and immersing himself in the Rasta lifestyle. He found it meaningful and worth living for. He stopped wearing shoes, stopped combing his hair, started growing locks, and altered his diet. Soon after, he converted completely to the movement.
Muta left Kingston in 1971 to find a more satisfying environment. He and his partner and two children now live in Potosi District, St. James, in a house that Muta built himself. To the present day, he performs and lectures all around the world. To Muta, Rastafarian is part of a universal quest that may also be pursued by other routes, such as Hinduism or Buddhism or Christianity. He disapproves, however, of institutionalized religion. Muta was the first well-publicized voice in the new wave of poets since the early '70s. Like the poet Louise Bennett, Muta has built a living relationship and poetry with Jamaica. Early work by Muta was first presented in the magazine Swing
, a monthly that gave fullest coverage to the pop music scene. Introducing "Outcry" (March, 1973), John A. L. Golding Jr. wrote: "In July 1971, Swing Magazine
published for the first time a poem by Allan Mutabaruka.... Our readers were ecstatic. Since then, and almost in consecutive issues, we have derived much pleasure in further publication of this brother's works.... They tell a story common to most black people born in the ghetto.... And when Muta writes, it's loud and clear". His 1983 release "Check It" was released on Chicago blues label Alligator Records. In 2008, Mutabaruka was featured as part of the Jamaica episode of the television program Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
.Mutabaruka gave a lecture at Stanford University on 18 May 2000, addressed to the Caribbean Students Association. Muta expressed his views on the difference between education and indoctrination.