We have to realize our black heritage in order to give us strength to move on and progress. But as far as returning to the old African culture, it's unnecessary and it's not advantageous in many respects. We believe that culture itself will not liberate us. We're going to need some stronger stuff.
The equilibrium you admire in me is an unstable one, difficult to maintain. My inner life was split early between the call of the Ancestors and the call of Europe, between the exigencies of black-African culture and those of modern life.
So in Jamaica it is the aim of everybody to talk English, act English and look English. And that last specification is where the greatest difficulties arise. It is not so difficult to put a coat of European culture over African culture, but it is next to impossible to lay a European face over an African face in the same generation.
It seemed [there are] musical nodes on the planet where cultures meet and mix, sometimes as a result of unfortunate circumstances, like slavery or something else, in places like New Orleans and Havana and Brazil. And those are places where the European culture and indigenous culture and African culture all met and lived together, and some new kind of culture and especially music came out of that.
I think there's beauty in repetition. And that's part of my culture and African culture as well: repeated things, mantra. It's spiritual, it's meditation, it's Buddhism, it's praying, it's all these things.
It's depressing to see blacks wanting to dive into the mainstream of American commercial life. They come from a magnificent African culture based on aesthetics, and they all want to become fort builders like the vicious people who originally enslaved them.