Gemma Handy

Age-old teachings for a modern world

St. John's Antigua- An encounter with Ras Bobby is a little like going to church, or having a catch-up with old friends. It leaves you feeling balanced, spiritually nourished and totally at peace with the world.

The aging Rastafarian, with locks as long as his salt 'n' pepper beard, exudes harmony and aplomb. He has a generous smile and eyes that sparkle with warmth and just a hint of mischief.

Bobby chooses his words carefully. A favourite in his broad lexicon is "providence". He uses it once when he divulges how he came to meet the Honduran herbologist who would change his life. And again when relating his first serendipitous brush with 'Back to Eden', a book that inspired him to follow a lifestyle devoid of anything not created by "Him Most High".

"I call myself a naturopathic healer," he imparts.

"I was born in Curacao, I grew up in Dominica, and I now live in St Thomas. So I see myself as an African-Caribbean citizen," he says with a broad grin. His herbal teaching dates back more than three decades. He does have some formal training through a naturopathic school but most of his studies are as organic as Bobby himself.

"I was taught hands-on by a mountain man in Honduras. The art of natural healing is acquired easier in the bush; you can't learn herbology in the classroom. "He brought me to the hills, identified the herbs and showed me how to make products from them."

As chairman of the Health and Nutrition Committee of the Caribbean, Ras Bobby is tasked with raising public awareness of the need to follow a natural lifestyle.

"Nature is the answer to all our problems," he says simply. "We are absolutely from nature. Nature has an answer for everything. And eventually it will be found. The solution to most problems is a holistic approach. What we eat, drink, even think about – we need to recognise that healing is a faith process.

"It's mind over matter – and the spirit of all."

For more than a decade Bobby has been imparting his wisdom to audiences comprising the curious, the eager, the hopeful, even, occasionally, the sceptical. His latest seminar is aimed at surviving the ills of the 21st century. Tonight at 7:30 pm in Perry Bay's Multi-Purpose Centre, he will once again deliver his message to the local population.