Yasus Afari

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Yasus Afari
BornJohn Sinclair
Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica
OccupationWriter, dub poet
GenreDub poetry
Literary movementRastafari movement

Yasus Afari (born John Sinclair, 1962)[1][2] is a Jamaican dub poet.


Born in, Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, Sinclair was a childhood friend of Garnett Silk and collaborated with Silk on many of his best-selling recordings.[1] Sinclair attended St. Elizabeth Technical High School, and worked as a repair technician for the Jamaican telephone company, before returning to school after receiving a scholarship to the College of Arts, Science and Technology.[1] He became politically active while at the college, and was elected vice-president of the student council, although he declined the position.[1]

While at the college, he began performing, appearing regularly at venues such as the University of the West Indies (UWI), a nursing school and a teachers college.[1] His initial forays into recording were not commercially successful (his first release was "Anti-Litter Law" in 1986)[3] but his career began to turn around after he teamed with Silk.[1] His first combination release with Silk was a version of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now".[4]

Afari's style has been compared to that of Mutabaruka.[4] As well as performing more traditional poetry readings, he also performs his poetry live over dancehall music.[3] Although Afari rejects the slack lyrics that are common in dancehall, he believes that the genre can be used to get his message across:

"You have to link with the dancehall; you haffi recognize seh the human element is very important. Humans gather at the dancehall in their hundreds and thousands; you can't ignore that as a social activist. You have to find ways and means, creatively, to communicate without prostituting whatever you stand for, to address the dancehall reality".[5]

Afari toured throughout the United States and the Pacific Islands with Black Uhuru in the mid-1990s.[1] In 1996, with Mutabaruka, Tony Rebel, and Uton Green, Afari toured Ethiopia.[4] In 2006, he co-headlined the Cayman Music Festival, along with Freddie McGregor and Maxi Priest.[6] In 2007, he toured England, performing at prisons, mental institutions, book shops and schools, as well as acting as poet in residence at the University of Birmingham, where his book Overstanding Rastafari was launched in the UK.[7] Overstanding Rastafari was the result of five years work for Afari, and was described by Professor Barry Chevannes of the UWI as "a work by a Rastafarian scholar who is interpreting for the non-Rastafarian audience his perspective. Not idiosyncratically his own, but the view of the movement on where Jamaica and the world are positioned at this time".[8]

Afari's latest album is Public Secret, recorded with his band Dub Vijan, and released in 2013.[9]

Afari has also recorded as a background vocalist and dub poet for Everton Blender, General Degree and Tony Rebel.[1]

Afari is head of Edutainment Promotion, organisers (with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission) of the Jamaican Poetry Festival.[10]


  • Dancehall Baptism (1993), RAS
  • Mental Assassin (1995)
  • Honour Crown Him (1997), Sen Ya Cum
  • Gift of Vijjahn (2000), House of Honour
  • Revolution Chapter 1 (2007)
  • Ancient Future (2012), Senya-Cum Records
  • Public Secret (2013), Fox Fuse


  • Eye Pen
  • Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica's Gift to the World (2007)
  • Vocal Ink: The Mental Intercourse (2016)[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Harris, Craig "Yasus Afari Biography", Allmusic, Macrovision Corporation.
  2. ^ Dawes, Mark (2007) "Mind and Spirit – Yasus' gift to Jamaica (Pt 2)", Jamaica Gleaner, 21 April 2007.
  3. ^ a b Habekost, Christian (1993), Verbal Riddim: The Politics and Aesthetics of African-Caribbean DubPpoetry, Rodopi, ISBN 978-90-5183-549-6, pp. 24–25.
  4. ^ a b c Larkin, Colin (1998) The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0242-9, p. 7.
  5. ^ Stolzoff, Norman C. (2000), Wake the Town & Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica, Duke University Press, ISBN 978-0-8223-2514-7, p. 237.
  6. ^ "Freddy, Yassus, Maxi heat up Music Fest", Cayman Net News, 15 February 2006.
  7. ^ Cooke, Mel (2007), "Yasus Afari changes focus for England", Jamaica Gleaner, 22 October 2007.
  8. ^ Cooke, Mel (2007) "Yasus Afari presents book, album", Jamaica Gleaner, 2 April 2007.
  9. ^ "Yasus Afari's Secret Is Out", Jamaica Observer, 2 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  10. ^ "Poetry fest to honour stalwarts", Jamaica Observer, 1 August 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  11. ^ Walters, Basil (2016), "Yasus Afari launches new book, Vocal Ink", Jamaica Observer, 9 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.

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