Bongo Watto
 
 
The Great Patriarch of the Nyahbinghi Order . Ras Boanerges , the Great Bongo Watto . Born 1st
July 1925 - 2000 . It was him , with Bongo Philip and Bongo Arthur , that establish the Youth
Black faith in which the Theocracy Reign Ivine Order of the Nyahbinghi were re-resurrected on
the Island of Jamaica .

Taken from Sista Farika Berhane article "TROD ON RAS BOANERGES" in Rootz

Ras Boanerges, also known as Bongo Watto, was undoubtedly one of the most historic and
controversial Elders of the Rastafari Faith. He received his name from the Bible text Mark 3:17,
"And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them
Boanerges, which is 'The sons of Thunder'." These two disciples of Christ were renamed
Boanerges by HIM, when he sent the Twelve out to preach the gospel. (Mark 3:13-16.)
throughout his life, Ras Boanerges strove to live up to being a "son of the thunder." Born
George Watson, in the parish of St. Mary, Ras Boanerges' ancestors came from the Scott's Hall
Maroons of that parish. His mother was an ardent Garveyite. It was from her that he learned to
know himself to be an African. The lessons that his Maroon ancestry and his mother taught him
helped to sustain his vision of a Redeemed Africa and his militant fight against "Babylon."

Although many elders claim that he was in his eighties when he died in October 2000, the
record books show him as being born on July 1st, 1925. While still in his teens, he sighted the
light of Rastafari. As a young man, he founded the Youth Black Faith. By 1947, his yard at 9th
Street, Trench Town was a hub for members and sympathizers of the Rastafari Faith. It was at
9th Street that he assisted developing some of the tenets that came to be regarded as
fundamental to the Nyahbingi Order. He became one of the Nyahbingi Order's foremost
pioneers. Many contemporary elders grew in the faith in his yard. He regarded himself as the
founder of the Nyahbingi Order and conducted Nyahbingi services in the tradition of the
shepherd with the congregation as his flock.

Ras Boanerges refused to compromise in his campaign against the evil of backsliding and
giving into "popular culture." He wanted Black people to concentrate night and day on their
Redemption and Repatriation. Every thought, every action, must be toward noble aims. His
heaven was to chant and give isis to the Almighty "itinually." It had no place for Reggae and
dance hall. He preached that music that was not churchical music led to sinfulness, and loose
living. It blurred the people's focus on African Redemption. He demanded steadfastness to the
cause of Marcus Garvey, and condemned the partying of Reggae/dance hall music as diversions
from the "cause". Under his leadership, the Reggae "singers and players of instrument" had to
go through the same fight that pioneering African American Blues and Jazz singers faced from
the Black Church in the USA.

From the forties until the dawn of the millennium Ras Boanerges' voice could be heard
prophesying above the chanting and drumming congregation during Nyahbingi gatherings. His
message was unchanged over the decades. It was a call for Afrikan peoples to seek the light, to
depart from party politics, and seek life by coming to the fullness of Rastafari. It was spiced by
quotes from the Bible appropriate to the present day condition of African peoples. Time upon
time he could be heard commanding Black people to "Come out of other people business," and
focus on their own affairs. Bongo Watto said that he looked forward to the day when every
breath of man was for the praise and glory of the Almighty. He did not wish to hear any music
aside from chanting praises to His Majesty, the King of Kings. He saw the return of the African
to his spiritual heights to be his mission and declared that the silver and gold of Babylon could
not deter him from that mission.

He was called upon to sacrifice his freedom and to face death on more than one occasion
during the fifties and sixties. He was sent to jail for possession of his Sacred Herb, the
marijuana or the ganja plant, four times. He was poisoned twice; once by a warder and the
other time by a jealous enemy within the congregation. The experience made him peculiar in
his eating habits. He became a very strict "italist," who preferred to cook his food himself and
and ate mostly raw vegetables, fruits and juices. After doing pioneering work towards the
getting the government

The highlight of his life was meeting Emperor Haile Selassie I at a banquet at King's House,
Jamaica, to which selected Rasses had been invited. Ras Boanerges stated that the Emperor
sent an emissary to him to ask him why he wore his head in dreadlocks. Although he knew His
Majesty knew the answer to the question he had asked, he nevertheless quoted from Numbers
6, to the Emperor's representative. When the emissary told His Majesty what Ras Boanerges
had said His Majesty told the gathering of Jamaican socialites, "Leave them (the Rasses) alone.
They know what they are doing." Ras Boanerges was called upon to spread the message of the
Nyahbingi around the world. His mission in the spread of Nyahbingi was akin to Bob Marley's
through Reggae music. No Nyahbingi Elder has had the impact on internationalizing the
Nyahbingi, that Bongo Watto had. He began his international work on the campus of the
University Campus of the West Indies, (UWI) by reasoning with students from many islands.
Ikael Tafari became one of his main disciples and invited him to tour his home Barbados in
1975. This was followed by a tour of the eastern Caribbean islands in 1983, after the convening
of the International Rastafari Conference at UWI's Mona Campus. He was accompanied on his
tour by elders Pa Shanti, High Priest Bongo Time and many others. In 1986, he attended and
presented at the Caribbean Focus on Rastafari Culture at the Commonwealth Centre in London,
England. He was a leading elder at the Centenary program in England on several occasions
during the nineties. During '96, '97 and 98, he toured many African countries to strengthen the
Rastafari congregation. Most his work was done in South Africa, and Tanzania. He also worked
in the eastern Caribbean and traveled with Bongo Spear of Afrika Hall to Europe to defend the
cause of repatriation to United Nations representatives in Geneva. — with
Nyahbinghi Canada
Haileselassiei.
 
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