Anthony, you started your show here tonight with a song of Peter Tosh ('Equal Rights', red.), one of your great examples in music. What made Peter Tosh so special for you? What does he represent?
Anthony B: "Peter Tosh was my first influence, even before I contemplated doing anything in music. He was the kind of person that I looked at and would say to myself: "Wow, if I was a singer, this is who I would like to be like. Peter Tosh could sing the same words other singers sung, but he would do it more convincingly and more soulful to. Peter Tosh was someone who could make you do something you didn't even know you could or wanted to do. He had that power in his voice."
Socially and historically speaking I think it's Marcus Garvey that touched you the most. For people that might not be acquainted with his philosophy and his message, who is Marcus Garvey for Anthony B?
Anthony B: "Marcus Garvey is the liberator of black people globally. Why I say that, is because Marcus Garvey gave us hope after slavery. He told us we could be educators, teachers, lawyers and so on, in short that we could compete in the modern economy. We could be a government within a government with no racial discrimination standing between us. Not with a gun in our hand, but, as Marcus taught us, with the knowledge that the pen is mightier than the sword. Re-educating ourselves is more important than just sitting there reminding ourselves of the sufferance we have gone through without being able to overcome it. To overcome that, you have to search within yourself and find a sense of self-empowerment. I see Marcus Garvey as the empowerment of black people. Through the strength, education and movement of Marcus came Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and many other great liberators. The reason why he was so influential is because he was non-violent. We don't want a revolution that is violent, because if I go into a revolution with 100.000 of my people, I don't want to see anybody die. With violence that is impossible."
Talking about violence, a number of songs in your set tonight had a strong anti-gun message. It must be an issue that is dear to you, but how big is that problem now in Jamaica?
Anthony B: "(sighs) The gun problem is the worst problem we've ever seen in Jamaica. Luckily we don't have any bombs or grenades, but still. The birth of the gun problem coincided with political problems, power vacuums meeting power bases. People started to say: "This my territory!", based on the political party they supported. That mentality got enforced by bringing guns into those areas and instigating fear within the communities. If someone was brave enough to put resistance, bigger guns were brought in, as simple as that. What I'm proud of is that music is still a kind of social glue in Jamaica. The musical vibe in Jamaica right now is more cultural and uplifting again, and that promotes more non-violent reactions to these kinds of problems. Music also plays a vital role in the Jamaican economy. Education is still lacking, but music partly fills that place because a lot of people learn from the songs they hear. For example when we have Black History Month or other historical events, you'll see the students turn to us, because it's through our music that they heard about people like Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkruma or Rosa Parks first. Music also offers a lot of youths a great way out of the ghetto and they in their turn will educate their friends, our younger brothers. The independent self-empowered thinking of Marcus Garvey taught Jamaican people not to depend upon the government, but to go out and stand up for what you want and believe in. It's exactly that what makes Jamaica such a nice place: the independency of the people."
One of the things Marcus Garvey also propagated was the actual physical return of the descendants of the slaves to Africa. Is that something you, as a Rastafarian, also believe in?
Anthony B: "That's something I not only believe in but truly know! Marcus Garvey wasn't selling us a dream; he was making it a reality. In order to gain acceptance for repatriation, he knew he had to gain the political acceptance of the western world. That is why he was even talking with the head of the Ku Klux Klan; to show them what he was doing was not just a racial thing, but about reparation and repatriation. But today still, if we don't get the acceptance of countries like the United States or England or Spain, there can be no repatriation, because these countries still "own" Africa. I mean, even when you get to Africa, you still can't do what you want because it is controlled by those countries. That's not the failure of Marcus Garvey, but the failure of us as a black nation and it's that failure that stopped him from fulfilling his vision."
As a Rastaman, you walk the path of the Boboshanti, like a lot of your colleagues and people from your generation let's say. Where do you think the great attraction in Boboshanti lies? There are other branches of the faith as well, like Nyahbinghi or the Twelve Tribes of Israel, but Boboshanti seems to have the strongest influence nowadays. Why is that?
Anthony B: "The attraction of Boboshanti lies in the fact that it is deeply spiritual and focuses strongly on salvation. The Twelve Tribes and Nyahbinghi orders have their place and function too - because as the Bible says: "In my father's house there are many mansions." (John 14:2, red.) - but what is lacking the youths in the street is spirituality and a sense of love and salvation. These youths are asking: "Where is this salvation generations upon generations have been talking about. Where is this betterment?" and Boboshanti provides that answer. They see the Boboshanti saying: "Blessed love my Lord. Give thanks for the moment.", and so on. The Boboshanti also show an appreciation for these youths that most of them don't even get in their own family. They actually experience the heavenliness, the godliness like nothing they have come across before. You have to realise how the Boboshanti live, how they pray, keep the Sabbath, share amongst each other. You won't find that so easily in other communities. However in everything there's good and bad and there are people who walk the wrong way too, but the real core of Boboshanti is more spiritual than anything I've ever come across."