DSE SHORTS: What is the Japanese Peace Boat?
Nisha Rebel: The Japanese Peace Boat is a non-governmental organization that seeks to do peace initiatives through tourism, a very interesting concept. They do year round global voyages which means that they sail around the world at least three times per year. Each time they make port they pick up a guest lecturer or Mizuan, Japanese for teacher or navigator, who teaches them about the culture of the country they’re about to go into.
DSE SHORTS: How did this initiative begin?
Nisha Rebel: It started when some university students who, after graduating went on a journey to Korea and Vietnam to learn more about the history between Japan and these countries. They learnt that much of the history they learnt in school wasn’t the truth. They also learnt that the Japanese did a lot of bad to these countries and so they apologized. So from that experience they decided to travel and learn things they didn’t learn in school and that’s how the Peace Boat started.
DSE SHORTS: How did you first get involved with the Peace Boat?
Nisha Rebel: I went to Japan in 2012. I was invited to be apart of a festival called Tabi Matsuri to screen my documentary RasTa: A soul’s journey, but I also got the opportunity to go to Ishinomaki and Fukushima, the two places most affected by the earthquake and nuclear reactor explosion in 2011. While in Japan at the screening of my film, one of the organizers of the Peace Boat saw my film, heard me talk and asked if I would be interested in coming onboard to speak because they would be going on a journey to Jamaica soon.
DSE SHORTS: Tell us a little about the donations made by the Peace Boat.
Nisha Rebel: The first year I volunteered on the Peace Boat, the arrangement was that I would give four lectures onboard; on Ras Tafari, reggae music, the legacy of my grandparents, and on the meaning of one love and they in exchange would donate stationery and art supplies to Manifesto Jamaica, who at at that time was very active in inner city communities. So these were resources we would have had to purchase. This year I made a list of musical instruments and sports supplies because I plan to embark on a number of initiatives next year in sports, music and film.
DSE SHORTS:Who is Dragon76 and what was the inspiration behind the Conversations with Dragon76?
Nisha Rebel: Dragon 76 is a visual artist from Japan whose work is very revolutionary and thought provoking. The first time I saw Dragon’s work, it was an image of my grandfather and I just thought ‘Wow!’. And when we met on the Peace Boat this year, the energies just connected. I felt it would have been interesting to have a conversation with Dragon about how Reggae music is influential in his own life and work, even though he doesn’t speak English. I wanted to create a space where I could not only learn about him but also everybody who I can reach can learn about him and his works.
DSE SHORTS: Speak a little about how the teachings of Ras Tafari transcend all barriers of ethnicity, language, culture, nationality etc. and how that has culminated in you doing work with the Japanese Peace Boat.
Nisha Rebel: If it wasn’t for the teachings of Ras Tafari I don’t think there would have been a space for us to have those kinds of conversations on the peace boat. Ras Tafari through reggae music has been able to empower and heal the world despite differences of nationality, language and culture. I was able to give guests on board more insight to Ras Tafari and my own personal journey as a RasTa woman . So despite the fact that I speak English and they speak Japanese, we were able to communicate beyond words because the way I speak is very abstract and their language doesn’t facilitate the communication of certain ideas. As such at times it was difficult for the translators to translate into words what I was saying but through the energy they understood.