Local dancehall music has been described as a bad influence to the youth at a public discussion focusing on the theme "Rastafari, Reggae and Dancehall" held at the Book Cafe on Wednesday evening. The forum looked at the Zimbabwean and Caribbean perspectives in particular and included speakers like musician and university professor Fred Zindi, Pan-African activist Sista Neka, top graphic artist Saki Mafundikwa and special guest Dr Jahlani Niaah a scholar from Jamaica.
"Dancehall music can be viewed as a portrayal of cultural decay amongst youths in the way it glorifies violence, promiscuity and drug abuse in poor societies," said Dr Niaah.
The prevalence of foul language in the genre is viewed as a type of "noise pollution" and the proliferation of sexual and physical abuse in ghettos and high density areas can be directly attributed to the rise of dancehall over original roots reggae music.
Dr Niaah pointed out that the rise of Rastafarianism in Jamaica was due to a need to de-colonise the people of the notion that Blacks were inferior and did not have a heritage of their own.
The need for a cultural foundation led to the belief that Africa was the cradle of Black people and thus was born the religion of Rastafari which places Emperor Haile Selassie as the spiritual head of the movement.
The prevalence of fatherless families in the Caribbean led to the people embracing Rastafarianism as a surrogate father for most people who viewed the Emperor of Ethiopia as their Father Figure, and Dr Niaah pointed out that one in three Jamaicans do not know their own fathers.
The forum also discussed how Reggae music was born in poor marginalised spaces of the urban centres in order to provide hope to the downtrodden masses, with the theme "Love, Peace and Harmony" dominating the genre.
However, after the death of Bob Marley the reggae type of mellow tunes was gradually replaced by dancehall music with its faster beats and more materialistic themes, in what some scholars believe was a deliberate attempt to "reduce the potency" of Rastafarianism.
In time dancehall became very profitable as promoters and record producers gave preference to the genre over original reggae music, leading to polarisation of societies such as the current rivalry in Jamaica between rival factions Gazza and Gully movements.