Words by Zebi Williams/Photos by Kwesi Abbensetts
Zebi Williams launched the Lil Raggamuffin Summer Camp eight years ago when she was just 19, and since then the volunteer-run camp has become an exemplar for youth development, promoting arts and entrepreneurship within a small, coffee-farming community in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, and inspiring similar programs elsewhere. Having worked closely with Zebi the last few years, we wanted to give her a regular voice on LargeUp. Raggamuffin Reasonings is her way to keep LargeUp readers updated on this unique program, and also to inspire similar ideas into action.
Many people have mixed feelings when they hear our camp uses the name “Raggamuffin” in the title. Growing up as a Rasta child, this word was used as a term of endearment. We flipped the disrespect and gave it an empowering sentiment. Rastas were proud to wear homemade clothes, to lock their hair, to praise a God in their own image, to speak out against capitalist imperialism. To be a Raggamuffin meant you followed your intuition, you created your own path, you knew equality was your birthright and you would not give strength to anything that sought to oppress you.
Now, as a mother raising my own 11-year old Raggamuffin, and serving as the director of a summer camp in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, I’ve learned some valuable lessons regarding children that I would love to share. I hope you find these tips to be helpful.