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Why do Muzungu women like dating Rastas?

Dec 6 • 5555 views • 22 Comments Diary of a Muzungu, How to...? Uganda travel tips, Society and culture, Travel tips and advice, Uganda

If you want to know what’s really going on in mixed relationships, tell me what you think of this one? Some of the experiences shared our explicit.

Someone recently asked me: “Why do Muzungu women like dating Rastas?”

I’d never really considered Muzungu / Ugandan relationships in that light, and then I thought – with a pang – of the guy I’d been seeing on and off for a year. At the time it never occurred to me he fitted into that category. It ended disastrously – but it had its moments.

THANK YOU: This article was originally commissioned by Arnie Petit, Editor of Empazi Magazine. Thanks for believing in me Arnie. I hope we get a chance to work together again in the future.

So what did I like about Dr Rasta?

In a (mostly) conservative country like Uganda, you’re often judged on your appearance. If you don’t fit in with the status quo, people are going to comment. Perhaps that’s why I like the Rasta look on some men: I like a man who’s not afraid to stand up for himself when challenged.

In Uganda, Rastas or ‘Rasta lookalikes’ symbolise non-conformism. To us Westerners, that can be hot! – we come from societies where self-expression through your personal image is quite normal, encouraged even.

Rasta and muzungu

“Why do Muzungu women like dating Rastas?”

In Uganda, most people agree that Rastas are “either artists, layabouts or career Muzungu daters.” But are those the real Rastas or just the cosmetic variety?

What is a Rasta really?

Rasta refers (incorrectly) to “any person having dreadlocks.”

“True Rastafarians believe that Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie a.k.a. Ras Tafari was the second coming of Christ. Rastafarianism is a common religion amongst black Jamaicans and deeply rooted in African culture. Rastas eat a diet of vegetables, fruit and fish and keep their bodies, mind and soul healthy by staying active in global issues. To be Rastafarian you don’t have to be black; in fact Rastafarianism has to come from the heart. A Rasta does not cut his hair. Rastas are famous for smoking marijuana as a symbol of religious practice.”

Real Rastas – of which there are very few in Uganda it seems – do not touch alcohol.

Emperor Haile Selassie Ethiopia

Emperor Haile Selassie Ethiopia. Rastafarianism

So for the sake of this article, I have thrown the cosmetic and the real into one big cultural melting pot. Real Rastas, please do not take offence. I echo the sentiments of this guy, who said: “Come on people, think about it before you all start judging dem Rastas. RASTA IS SWEET, COOL, CALM AND COLLECTED WITH A SENSE OF TLC (tender loving care) AND REALITY. The beer thing, hehehe too funny… real Rasta don’t drink…”

What do you say Muzungu ladies?

I’ve spent the last few weeks pondering this question and asked girlfriends why do white women go for Rastas? I posted this same question on Facebook – and then it got interesting!

“Date a Rasta? Ugh, no way! You must be joking – you don’t know what’s living in that hair!” Julia said.

Anja echoed my thoughts: “Rastas are generally a lot more liberal than most Ugandans. They’re less conservative.”

To some women, Rastas represent the exotic. Having dreadlocks or being dark-skinned does not define your “Africaness” – but maybe the ‘first time to Africa’ Muzungu hasn’t worked that out yet?

On Facebook, Tio commented “It’s all about perceptions of “exoticness”, which is why you have Bazungu women falling all over themselves for Masaai men, drape, spear and all.”

One attraction of the Rasta is that they’re easy for us Bazungu to recognise them. Why? Because with their shaved heads, every Ugandan man can look the same from a distance – at least when you first arrive in the country. The Rastas stand out, they are easy to spot in the crowd. We don’t have the embarrassment of mistaking one black face for another!

Personally, I like big hair anyway (I guess us white ladies are used to guys with hair!)

Ugandan hair salon sign

“Trust me with u’r stayle” hair salon, near Mubende, Uganda

After four years, each black face is as different to me as every white one but when I first came to Uganda, I couldn’t remember who was who. I would try and remember each lady by their hairstyle. “Rose has a red bob, Sarah has a weave. Got it!” That didn’t help much, as I soon learned Ugandan ladies like to DRAMATICALLY change their hairstyle every couple of weeks!

Back to dem Rastas and, when I asked a male Ugandan friend why do white women go for Rastas? He said “I have the answer and I know I’m right.”

“These Rasta guys have a lot of time on their hands. They don’t work. He’s got plenty of time to show her the sights and show her around. The conversation might not be meaningful but that’s not what either of them is after. These guys know how to play the game,” my male friend said. “They’ll learn how to dance, they’ll learn how to make love.

The Muzungu lady often falls in love with the Rasta. He’ll say he loves her. She’ll then spend the next couple of years going backwards and forwards between Uganda and her home country trying to keep the relationship alive. These girls come and go. There’s always a new supply coming through and any bad behaviour can be forgotten (by him at least) when she leaves the country.”

As one person neatly summed up, “The thing about a Muzungu-Rasta relationship is that it is so disposable.”

Jane, who has several years experience managing volunteers in Uganda, gave her opinion on why Muzungu girls like Rastas:

“Rastas know where the parties are. They tend to hang out in a ‘posse’ so hooking up with a Rasta = instant friends. We know Rastas have essentially unlimited experience with little white girls, so they know how to talk to them. There are no awkward silences. Rastas do not care how dirty the girl’s feet are, or the last time she showered. They only care about whether or not she is buying him beer.

Jane added “They (and many African men) can talk your pants off. Even if you are unattractive by your culture’s standards, they will make you feel like the most beautiful person in the world.”

One Ugandan male advised “if you are gonna hit on a mzungu girl in Uganda, never wear a freaking tie or talk about your big meetings.” He asks “why do mzungu ladies stay clear of corporate/learned Africans? I have ever hit on a mzungu chick before, but I was either too smart an African or I was not talking dumb enough. It is my unschooled and unkempt Rasta friend who scored.”

Ow. Sorry!

Does the Rasta Muzungu relationship start with drugs?

“Most ‘zungu babes I know smoke weed… [the ones this Facebooker knows anyway!] … their suppliers happen to be Rastafarians, I guess one thing leads to another …”

This Muzungu’s theory is that black, white or brown – ‘girls like a bad boy’ – and in this case Rastas often fit the bill (superficially at least). That’s why the Muzungu girls are going with them rather than the corporate Ugandans. If a white girl’s dating a corporate Ugandan, hell she might as well just date a corporate guy from back home. (Where’s the excitement in that?)

Radio or Weazel 'Wizo'

Radio or Weazel ‘Wizo’ – you tell me? Club Silk, Kampala

Also on Facebook, Richard adds that the Muzungu girls “think that all Rastas have big Mandingo dicks and last for hours. Whether true or not, Rastas live up to the bad boy reputation with drugs and alcohol binges that, rather incongruously, make them attractive to Beckies traipsing aimlessly around Africa looking for adventure they can’t find back home.” Just say it like it is Richard!

So would this Muzungu lady date a Rasta?

Despite the bullshit, the sweet talk and the dance moves can be very seductive.

I’d go in with my eyes open (and condoms on!) and an absolute certainty that I’m just one of a number he’s playing with. To entertain any other idea is craziness. Exceptions may exist – but my advice? Enjoy the moment, but don’t kid yourself you’ve found the only faithful “Rasta.” So tell me your experience – anonymously if you like! – what’s the attraction between Muzungu women and Rastas?

So tell me your experience?

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22 Responses to Why do Muzungu women like dating Rastas?

  1. PT says:

    The thing I find troubling about this sort of discussion is that it is highly judgemental and stereotypical and not something that would be acceptable at least in my home country. Some white people come to Uganda and become sensitised to casual racism and then use it themselves. I find it very uncomfortable.
    I am in a relationship with a Ugandan man. He has dreadlocks. Does that mean we are in a mzungu-rasta relationship and that he will inevitably be sleeping with at least 5 different other women? Does that mean that he will rip me off and leave me high and dry? Does it mean he is a loser with no job and I am a silly little white girl with dirty feet?
    I am aware of certain young men in Kampala with dreadlocks who can be seen out in the regular haunts every night (your face-censored friend above included) and I am aware of their behaviour. I am aware of gap year students who find themselves in these same night time haunts and end up having a lot of fun with these guys. I am also aware that, although neither me or my boyfriend engage in these social circles and are both young professionals, our relationship will always be disrespected and disregarded as the meaningless and pitiful thing that you describe, by 99% of people. To those cynical and close minded people I am a naive fool and he is a heartless bastard. It’s very boring to continue to have to contend with this unhealthy state of mind in others. I’m sorry to those who have been hurt by men and treated badly- I’ve experienced it too and it’s crap. The truth is that our personalities attract certain types of people. So look to yourselves to personally transform in a positive way instead of throwing prejudices at others, and maybe like me you will find a man who you find attractive, and who loves you for who you are.

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi PT, thanks for your comments. ‘Highly judgemental’ is perhaps pushing it a bit far – this is based on personal experience and many conversations with all types of people. I was actually commissioned to write this article by a young Ugandan guy. The title was totally his idea; I just happened to have had perhaps a bit too much personal experience on the negative side of this type of relationship. Lucky you to have the opposite experience to me; please prove me wrong :) You’re very welcome to write a guest post from your perspective? I’m sure it would make interesting reading. All the best.

      • Hussein Kato says:

        Muzingu like very much to date raster reason they can all stay without bathing and they look at themselves as unique yet they not”

        • the muzungu says:

          Hi Hussein, I don’t think that is the ONLY reason that muzungus like to date rastas, but it might be the case for one or two of them; that was just the tongue-in-cheek opinion of someone who has worked with a lot of volunteers.
          Do you think the volunteers think they are unique? Possibly – but then when you have lots of young men giving you attention, it can make you feel special can’t it?
          And when you look at it from a western point of view, being a volunteer in Africa is a fairly unusual thing to do. Doesn’t mean you are unique, but it does mean you are a bit unusual

    • Stephen says:

      hi PT, your comment is really true. the thing is, most caucasian girls hang arround with what we can call “bad boys”. if any of them is looking for a stable and meaningful relationship, then ofcourse its going to be more or less the same process as in Europe or America. ie: the girl falls for the guy but the guy is unserious so he cheats on her and they break up, the girl is then cautious of all the men. so is it simple any where on earth?? no its not.

      • the muzungu says:

        I think you have hit the nail on the head. A bad boy is a bad boy the world over… I think it’s just the ‘wrapping’ that looks a bit different. Also, if you’re travelling to Uganda for the first time – a tourist, or a volunteer, for example – you can get caught up in the whole buzz of having a new experience, and take risks that you wouldn’t do back home. Riding a boda boda is a case in point: I would never get on a motorbike without a helmet in the UK. And I would certainly NEVER get on the back of a motorbike of some random guy who appears out of nowhere, like everyone does in Kampala. But when you’re living this new life, you do silly things.
        OK am guilty as charged :)

  2. Linda says:

    Can I share your Why do Muzungu women like dating Rastas? Article on my blog. jamainnada.blogspot.com. Really loved it. I had been asking my self the same question for a long time. finally I get the answers. nice

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi Linda, you’re very welcome to quote my article if you link back to this page. Do bear in mind these are just opinions, not scientific facts! And I’m sure there are still more answers to the same question. Pls don’t confuse these ‘plastic rastas’ with the real deal. Rastas are generally very cool, tolerant and warm people. Unfortunately, there are people who pretend to be rastas and ride on the back of these rastas’ caring attitude; girls trust these fakes cos they don’t really understand what Rastafarianism is all about – in this Muzungu’s view.

  3. martin says:

    Well I believe the point is somewhere that rasta understand a muzungu culture than average Ugandans which makes it easy for him to hook a muzungu girl. Partying and smoking are additions that make a rasta score points given the fact average Ugandans do not smoke. There are also other reasons that hold like attractiveness. But personally I think its exposure that supersedes because there are specific words that a black girl expects that would make her surrender her foni number, accept a date and so on. Its these very words that would turn off a muzungu girl immediately. So non exposed rasta would still find himself on a losing side as he will get trapped in the cultural difference(s). What is your take????????

    • the muzungu says:

      Ok so firstly, let me be clear, my article is about ‘plastic – fake – rastas’ not true ones. I have a lot of respect for Rastafarianism.
      Am very interested in the “specific words that a black girl expects that would make her surrender her foni number, accept a date and so on. Its these very words that would turn off a muzungu girl immediately.” So which words might I hear that would turn me off, in your opinion? Am intrigued!
      The more you date outside your culture, the more you will learn thus the more success you should have over time, dating outside your culture … assuming you actually learn; tho not everyone does, some just repeat the same cultural blunders!

  4. Joshmali says:

    Quite an interesting take … I’m going to start keeping dreadlocks, and then I’ll confess that I’m a fake rasta on the first date ;)

  5. As a Real Rasta, I can only roll my eyes and sigh at most of the above. However, I strongly feel that you need to be accurate with your pictures. The one you have there is of Emperor Mennelik II and not of Emperor Haile Selassie I.

    • the muzungu says:

      Dear Masimba, am delighted to have a real comment from a real Rasta. lol :) Thanks for taking the time to comment. Thanks even more for correcting my photo. I’m slightly embarrassed for that, I confess. Am correcting it now… all the best

  6. Fabronnie says:

    Wow, me what I have had from my friends about the Rasta guys, is that they have true love when it comes to love. Me on my research I have found out that that’s true to a greater extent because have seen many fighting over their loved one. They don’t want anyone messing around with their chicks. I don’t blame whites falling for them. I my self am not one of them but I give them credit when it comes to love, care, and respect.
    This question goes to you Musungu, can really marry a Rasta guy? Or have u ever been in love with any?

    • the muzungu says:

      Can I really marry a Rasta guy? Why not? Maybe I just haven’t met the right one yet ;)
      I have never been in love with a Rasta, had an infatuation with one once – but it turned out he was already engaged. He was a real gentleman.

  7. Fabronnie says:

    Sure these days we have many pretenders when it comes to Rastas, many of them think that a true rasta must take Drugs, alcohol, steeling from others, being dirty, don’t bath, and many more. Which is not the truth about Rastas. I have had from so e of my friends that a true Rasta is that one with true love, care, and respect to others which is true.
    So you Bazungu you intend to love the Rastas which is not bad but you should be carefully with some who come with other intensions.
    This is another question, why is it that you Bazungu will never give birth for those Rastas that u fall in love with? Tell us what are your I tensions too.

    • the muzungu says:

      I like the word you use: “pretenders” – that is surely what some of Kampala’s plastic rastas are.
      Real Rastas are – like you say, people who aim for true love and respect for others, not all that other bad behaviour. I did a tour of Ethiopia couple of years ago and hooked up with some adorable Rasta guys, one from TZ and one from the West Indies.
      Is it true that Bazungu never give birth to Rasta guys? Have met white ladies who have settled down with Rastas, but maybe it is the Rasta who doesn’t want to settle with the non-Rasta? after all, they would probably want their child to be brought up as a Rastafarian too wouldn’t they?

  8. Muzungu, i must say this is really intersting about rastas…

  9. Bree says:

    Hey Chal,
    I find your diary very interesting. Its funny that i stumbled onto it on google a day ago and I just can’t have enough, reading all your articles.
    This one in particular is interesting because I have often wondered why Muzungu women always go for the guy with dreadlocks every time I see a couple walk down the streets of Kampala. Is there any chance that Muzungu men also fancy rasta women more than the usual Ugandan woman? But at the end of the day a Ugandan man will always be a Ugandan underneath all those dreads. I would want to think that an average Ugandan is one trying to be a rasta, offering a “half cooked” lifestyle of the true rasta (taking alcohol and what not). The Ugandan man without the dreads is one who is refined can be a little of bad boy and at the same treat you right the way you deserve to be treated. What do you think?

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi Bree, thanks for taking the time to comment. I love that you have read so much of my blog! Am truly flattered :) Hope that means you’ve signed up for the Muzungu’s newsletter then? I’ve written over 160 articles in the last five years – it’s been a fun journey. It seems that I should give up writing about all the ‘boring stuff’ like travel and conservation and focus on writing about dating in Uganda! This has been my most popular topic to date …
      I don’t think the reverse is true: I mean, I don’t think that Muzungu guys are into rasta women. There is a different dynamic at play.
      Ugandan women are very beautiful, there’s no denying it, and the average white guy (however old or ugly or BOTH!) has plenty of Ugandan ladies throwing themselves at him. He would never get a fraction of this attention from beautiful young women ‘back home.’ Incidentally, this makes it very hard for a single muzungu lady to find a single muzungu man in Uganda. I think this is because Ugandan women are more traditional e.g. they are quite happy to cook for a man, keep house for him and have his babies, without too much argument about who ‘wears the trousers’ (is the boss at home). White women are generally more emancipated and expect the man to help out with children and household chores; I think that makes us a bit of a challenge, so the Muzungu guy would prefer the traditional Ugandan woman. That’s just my theory. I know many, many Muzungu guys with Ugandan girlfriends or wives, but few Muzungu ladies with Ugandan male partners.
      Is the average Ugandan a “half cooked” true rasta? Hmmm not quite sure what you mean?

  10. Hamdee says:

    Rasta or no Rasta, at the end of the day, it all depends what the guy wants and what the muzungu wants. I am personally a reformed serial muzungu hunter who did his thing for 8months and finally quit after i found true love. I got interested in the whole muzungu dating thing after a couple of heartbreaks by fellow Ugandan gals and decided to turn my attention to a muzungu since majority of them value honesty. However all that changed with my first encounter with a muzungu at the National Theater. I was hopping for a serious relationship but she made i clear all she wanted to have fun for the 12days she in the country. So i changed my mind and danced to her tunes for 12 days and at the end of it all i had more fun and great sex more than i had anticipated. I eventually turned it into a habit and i started getting involved with muzungu after muzungu. It was all for the fun and the money. I admit i lived a far much better life as a pimp compared to my previous life as a sales person. All this come to an end when i met Penelope at the airport when i was saying goodbye to one of my muzungu girlfriend who was going back to Austria. I still treated her the same way i treated all my catch but i later realized i was getting so attached to her and every single time i spent with her the bond was growing stronger and she felt the same way. I had forgotten why i started muzungu hunting in the first place and Penelope made me realize that. Two months down the road we were so in love with each other and i decided to say goodbye to my old habits and settle down once and for all. My main point is it all depends on what intentions you both have. If its having a serious relationship then its chances of success are high for as long you the “zing”. If you are both into having fun with other then there is noway you will settle down. Not every Rasta is in for a fling and for the fun. Yes their are plastic rastas out there and i have met many of them who spot rastas for the sake of catching the eye of a muzungu but deep down in there heart they are not realy a Rasta.

    • the muzungu says:

      Dear Hamdee, Thank you so much for sharing your story! I particularly loved the part where you say that you met your Muzungu sweetheart while you were saying goodbye to the Muzungu girlfriend before her … That’s so awful, it’s funny.
      To be honest, it’s much like the situation that you might get in a summer beachside resort in Europe. The local guys say goodbye to the girls after their two-week summer holiday, swear undying love and then wait to greet (jump on) the new arrivals getting off the same aeroplane …!
      You’re absolutely right in what you say – it’s just those ‘plastic rastas’ that I have an issue with.
      I wish you and Penelope all the best for the future :)

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