Jacob “Jakes” Wulana, guitarist and
vocalist for reggae rock band Tidal Waves, met with Food24 at Oppikoppi 2011 to talk
about what it’s like to be a vegetarian and African.
Rastafarianism introduced Jakes to the idea of
veganism. “I chose to have life by not taking life,” he says. However, he soon
realised that he would have to make dietary changes due to all the touring he
does, and he introduced dairy products into his diet. But he remains a
vegetarian. “[The idea] took me whole heartedly, so it was easy. I don’t see
myself going back.”
The difficulties of being a vegetarian
Jakes soon found that catering for vegetarians was difficult, especially on tour.
“It’s me who suffers most!” He sometimes is forced to cater for himself, or
even go without meals.
And he is surrounded by meat eaters: “My boys, they love
their meat!” He says that the rest of the band simply loves their Karoo mutton.
Coming from a very traditional family, Jakes
says he also has a lot of pressure at home to eat meat. "A vegetarian life
is taboo in African culture... [My family] calls me a big disgrace."
As if that pressure wasn't enough, Tidal Waves
and Zinkplaat were asked to bring out a song for National Braai Day in 2010.
The song, called Chisa Nyama, means to braai meat.
The two bands gathered in
Kayamandi, just outside Stellenbosch, and had a braai and a few beers and the
song emerged from their "strumming around". Jakes says that the idea behind the song was
to encourage people to take the time to try understand each other. He is quick
to reassure us though: "It was all about the music for me. I wasn't actually chising the nyama!"
of understanding and unity is carried through their music, and Tidal Waves has
a strong sense of social conscience. When asked Jakes how he thought we should tackle
poverty and hunger, he replied: “By legalising marijuana.” His theory is that the
crops would provide employment, as well as cost effective materials like timber
Tidal Waves not only makes original music for original people, but also has
original ideas for solving social issues.