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Allan Hope
Born (1952-12-26) 26 December 1952 (age 62)
Rae Town, Kingston Jamaica
Pen name Mutabaruka
Occupation Poet, songwriter
Nationality Jamaican
Period Early 1970s-present

Allan Hope (born 26 December 1952),[1][2] better known as Mutabaruka, is a Jamaican Rastafari dub poet, musician, and actor. His name comes from the Rwandan language and translates as "one who is always victorious". Some of his themes include sexism, politics, discrimination, poverty, race, and especially religion.


Early life[edit]

Born in Rae Town, Kingston, Jamaica, Hope grew up in the slums of Jamaica with his mother, father and two sisters. When he was just 8 his father died. He attended the Kingston Technical High School, where he trained in electronics for four years, going on to work for the Jamaican Telephone Company until quitting in 1971.[3]

In the late 1960s into early 1970s there was an uproaring of Black Awareness in Jamaica. Hope, who was in his late teens at the time, was drawn into that movement. In school he read many "progressive books", including Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice and others that were then illegal in Jamaica, such as The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Raised as a Roman Catholic, while employed by the Jamaican Telephone Company, he began examining and immersing himself in the Rasta lifestyle. He stopped wearing shoes, stopped combing his hair, started growing locks, and altered his diet. Soon after, he converted completely to the movement.[4] He adopted the name Mutabaruka, a Rwandan term meaning "one who is always victorious".[3]

Later life[edit]

Hope left Kingston in 1971, relocating to the Potosi Hills,[3] where he lived with his wife and two children in a house that he built himself. He was among the new wave of Jamaican poets that emerged in the early 1970s.[5] Early work by Hope was first presented in the magazine Swing from 1971.[3][6] Introducing Outcry (March, 1973), his first collection released as Mutabaruka, John A. L. Golding Jr. wrote: "In July 1971, Swing Magazine published for the first time a poem by Allan Mutabaruka.... Our readers were ecstatic. Since then, and almost in consecutive issues, we have derived much pleasure in further publication of this brother's works.... They tell a story common to most black people born in the ghetto.... And when Muta writes, it's loud and clear".[7] He received attention for "Wailin'" in 1974, a work referencing songs by The Wailers, and in 1976 released the collection Sun and Moon.[3]

In 1977 he began performing live, backed by his band, Truth.[3] He had a hit record in Jamaica the following year with "Outcry", backed by Cedric Brooks' the Light of Saba.[3] After being invited to perform at a Jimmy Cliff concert in the early 1980s, guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith worked on a backing track for "Every Time a Ear Di Sound", beginning a long working relationship with Smith; Released as a single, it was a hit in Jamaica.[8] He became known internationally after his performance at Reggae Sunsplash in 1981, the first of several performances at the festival.[3] His 1983 release Check It was released on Chicago blues label Alligator Records, and further increased his popularity.[3] He curated the 1983 compilation album Word Sound 'ave Power, released by Heartbeat Records, and in 1984 Shanachie Records released his album The Mystery Unfolds.[3] He went on to record collaborations with both Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown, on "Hard Road to Travel" and "Great Kings of Africa" respectively.[3] He continued to record and perform, and in the mid-1990s began presenting a late night talk show on radio station Irie-FM called The Cutting Edge.[3][9]

He had further hits in the latter half of the 1990s with "Wise Up" (with Sugar Minott) and "Psalm 24" (with Luciano).[3]

Mutabaruka gave a lecture at Stanford University on 18 May 2000, addressed to the Caribbean Students Association. He expressed his views on the difference between education and indoctrination.[10]

In Spring 2007, Mutabaruka had the chance to teach African American studies at Merritt College. He has lectured and performed at several establishments in Jamaica and the United States.[11][12][13]

In 2008, Mutabaruka was featured as part of the Jamaica episode of the television program Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

On 20 February 2010, he was honored by the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) and the Rotaract Club of Mandeville for over 30 years of outstanding work in the field of the arts. Also, later on in 2010, he was recognized by Senegal with a hut built in his honour.[14]

On 28 September 2010, he recited a tribute poem in honour of Lucky Dube, whose music he said sought to "liberate the oppressed".[15] He spoke at the First Jamaica Poetry Festival on 17 August 2011 in honour of Marcus Garvey and Louise Bennett. On the final day of the Rastafari Studies Conference, Mutabaruka was examined as an Icon by the professors of the West Indies.[16]

His outspoken statements on theology have generated controversy,[17][18][19] and he has described Rasta as "part of a universal quest which may also be pursued by other routes, such as Hinduism or Buddhism or Christianity". Although he is a Rastafari, Mutabaruka doesn't smoke "ganja"- a Jamaican word for Indian hemp. He plainly stated this in one of his poetry performances. He has, however, campaigned for its legalisation.[20]


Year Title Label
1982 Live at Reggae Sunsplash Sunsplash
1983 Check It! Alligator
1983 Dub Poets Dub Heartbeat
1984 Outcry Shanachie
1986 The Mystery Unfolds Shanachie
1989 Any Which Way...Freedom Shanachie
1990 Mutabaruka Rounder
1991 Blakk Wi Blak...K...K... Shanachie
1994 Melanin Man Shanachie
1998 Gathering of the Spirits Shanachie
1998 Muta in Dub Blackheart
2002 Life Squared Heartbeat
2006 In Combination Revolver
2009 Life And Lessons Gallo Record Company


  • Live at Reggae Sumfest (1993) (VHS/DVD)
  • The Return to the Motherland (2011) (DVD)

Books of poetry[edit]

  • Outcry (1973)
  • Sun and Moon (1976) - with Faybiene
  • The Book: First Poems (1980)
  • The Next Poems (2005)



  1. ^ Greene, Jo-Anne "Mutabaruka Biography", Allmusic. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  2. ^ Some sources, e.g. Thompson (2002) state 1956
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Thompson, Dave (2002) Reggae & Caribbean Music, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-655-6, pp. 192–194
  4. ^ Dunn, Pat & Pamela Mordecai (2004). "Matubaruka". In Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean literature, 1900-2003. Daniel Balderston & Mike Gonzalez, Eds. London: Routledge. p. 374. ISBN 0-415-30687-6, ISBN 978-0-415-30687-4.
  5. ^ Habekost (1993) Verbal Riddim: Politics and Aesthetics of African-Caribbean Dub Poetry, Editions Bodopi BV, ISBN 978-9051835496, p. 25
  6. ^ Boyne, Ian (2012) "Mutabaruka For Jamaica 50 Honour", Jamaica Gleaner, 15 July 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  7. ^ Culture Workers Bureau, CWB. "Ideas need to be explored, not ignored". "Mutabaruka". 1990, p.4.
  8. ^ Cooke, Mel (2009) "'Everytime A Ear di Sound' makes Mutabaruka heard", Jamaica Gleaner, 12 July 2009. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  9. ^ Johnson, Linton Kwesi (2005) "Cutting edge of dub: Linton Kwesi Johnson on the spreading influence of Jamaica's poet of protest", The Observer, 27 August 2005. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  10. ^ Mutbaruka Lecture. "Stanford University".
  11. ^ Adams, Anne-Marie (2013) "Mutabaruka Comes to Hartford, Gives Lecture on Rastafarianism", The Hartford Guardian, 23 July 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  12. ^ Cooke, Mel (2011) "'There Is No Rebel'", Jamaica Gleaner, 5 July 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  13. ^ "Mutabaruka Talks Religion", Jamaica Gleaner, 16 March 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  14. ^ Walters, Basil (2010) "Muta recognised by Senegal; song on World Cup compilation", Jamaica Observer, 20 May 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  15. ^ Hewshe, Francis (2010) "Poet Mutabaruka pays homage to slain Dube", Sowetan, 28 September 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  16. ^ Gleaner, The "Examined as a Icon, A Visionary". 27 August 2010. Article.
  17. ^ Cooke, Mel (2011) "Mutabaruka Questions Creation Story", Jamaica Gleaner, 27 March 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  18. ^ Cooke, Mel (2012) "Mutabaruka Dares Deity", Jamaica Gleaner, 27 April 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  19. ^ Dick, Devon (2011) "Answering Mutabaruka's God Talk", Jamaica Gleaner, 31 March 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2014
  20. ^ "Jamaican poet urges Gambia to legalize cannabis", StarAfrica, 13 May 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014

Further reading[edit]

  • Morris, M. (1996). "Mutabaruka". Critical Quarterly 38(4): 39–49.

External links[edit]