Scientific name: Obrunian Rastafarianes or Mzunguni Rastafarianes

Common name:   White Rasta

Collective noun: A clan or tribe of White Rasta’s

The White Rasta can be found throughout the continent of Africa.  The Obrunian Rastafarianes are common throughout the Western parts of the continent, while the Mzunguni Rastafarianes roam freely throughout the Eastern and Southern regions of Africa.  The White Rasta is most commonly found in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia although sightings have also been recorded in Senegal, Namibia, Nigeria and Malawi.  The White Rasta originates from Europe, North America and Australia and generally prefers the coastal areas of the African continent, in contrast to their usually cold natural habitat.

It is common for the White Rasta to relocate from their home region and inhabit a village or town in any of the above countries.  This is usually done in the form of volunteering, backpacking or a combination of both.  The White Rasta will relocate for a period of months, sometimes years.  White Rasta’s have also been known to locate permanently after ’falling in love with Africa’.  The most famous case is of the European Corinne Hoffman, whose story can be found in the case study ‘The White Masai’.

The best selling book, ‘The White Masai’

The White Rasta is easy to identify, its appearance is remarkably universal, despite their wide spread throughout the continent.  The male of the species is easily identifiable by its dishevelled presentation.  This often includes such distinguishing features such as dreadlocks, stubble or a beard.  They can also be seen wearing Thai fisherman’s pants, ‘African’ shirts or second hand clothes.  It is also common to see a male White Rasta with a ‘tribal’ skin marking or facial piercing.  All of these features contradict with the local male population, who mostly wear their hair short, dress as smart as possible and look down upon tattoos and piercings.  These two species rarely come into contact, therefore clashes are rare.  At first sight, the female of the species can sometimes be hard to distinguish from the male, as often their hair is also in dreadlocks or is matty.  Additionally, features of the female can include hair under the armpits and on the legs which is also a male trait.  However, unique to the female is a big backside (this is attractive the indigenous male species) no bra and excessive jewellery.  The male and female often shun footwear, preferring to roam the villages ‘like an African,’ if they do wear shoes, it will most commonly be in the form of ‘Maasai sandals’, made from recycled car tyres.

Maasai sandals on sale in Moshi, Tanzania
Maasai sandals on sale in Moshi, Tanzania

The White Rasta’s are generally a harmless species and can be approached without caution.  A conversation with a White Rasta will inevitably include the phrase ‘T.I.A.’ (This is Africa), so even if they do not fit the physical description, you can be aware of your interaction with one as they dismiss the hardships of their experience with a shrug of the shoulders and a casual ‘T.I.A.’.  Further habits and behaviour include learning ‘the ways’ of the local population.  For example, learning to play an ‘African’ drum, studying the local (tribal) language, smoking ‘Bob Marley cigarettes’ and generally trying to be as African as possible.  When the White Rasta return to their home regions they will tell others of their time in Africa, so it is important to them that their experience is as real, traditional and full as possible.

The White Rasta mixes with elements of the local population quite easily and many times they find a mate.  This is much more common of the female.  In the White Rasta’s home regions, many intriguing myths abound about the African male and the female of the species often finds the temptation irresistible.  The White Rasta also enjoys such activities as visiting traditional villages, going to Reggae Bars, watching traditional dancing and sampling traditional food and alcohol.  As mentioned earlier, it is not dangerous to approach a White Rasta, although it is common for them to be hostile to other foreigners with a different appearance.  Many White Rasta’s feel they mix better with and know and understand the general population better than other foreigners and are therefore disinclined to share.

The common failing to the White Rasta is their grip on reality and surroundings.  Their knowledge of the modern history of Africa, for example, the last years of colonialism, the rise of African independence and pan-Africanism as well as the effects of development, globalisation and aid on Africa is limited.

Although they are generally experts on Africans such as Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and Barack Obama.

A white Maasai spotted in Dar es Salaam airport, Tanzania.
A white Maasai spotted in Dar es Salaam airport, Tanzania