Judah Square is within a small valley in Knysna (Khayalethu; South Township) comprising of close knit Rastafarian people. Judah Square was formed in 1993 as an informal settlement, which later became a tourist attraction because of its rich faith, sparkling murals and the impressive well-kept Nyabinghi Order Chapel.
I spent three days in Judah Square getting to know the youth. They are evidently different from the neighbouring youth that is not Rastafarian, as they were born and bred in a community that has serious restriction and a huge belief in King Selassie. “Our life is normal here, alcohol and cigarettes are not allowed in this community”, said Jesse Jacobs who was born 14-february-1993. Every morning at 6am the community gather for a prayer in the Nyabinghi Order Chapel.
With their symbolic dreadlocks, the Born Frees from Judah Square attends the community school without feeling judgement from the other children. “I was born like this, I love being a Rastafarian. Children my age treat me with respect, I think it’s because I’m a Rastafarian lady that protects me from many things like alcohol and drugs”, says sixteen year old Isis.
I raised the question of how twenty years of democracy in South Africa has changed their lives? Jumping up and down, dreadlocks floating in the air as Bob Marley bumped in the background, a fourteen year old boy illustrated how their life has been: “I don’t know how democracy changed my life, but Jah showed me the path to life. We are one love”