‘Some teef’s taken da special pie!’. You may be excused for thinking this is something that ‘Precious’ (the larger than life Afro-Carribean character) would say from ‘Come Fly With Me’ but alas these words are taken from ‘Rastamouse’ a new Cbeebies program which seems to have become hugely popular with adults and children alike in a very short time.
The program is about a group of Rastafarian mice who are in a reggae band and fight crime in order to – ‘Make a bad ting good!’. ‘Rastamouse’ is the main character in the program and his mission is usually to solve some sort of problem or crime and make the world a better place. It’s message is clear and is done in a humorous fashion as all the characters speak Rastafarian. It’s a bit of a giggle and the more I watch it, the more I like it. It’s refreshing to see some diversity in a children’s program and something a bit different is always entertaining.
I was perhaps not surprised to hear there were over a 100 complaints to the BBC about Rastamouse, claiming that it’s racist and promotes bad English. How is it racist? It reflects Rastafarian culture and language, and the original character was created by a Rastafarian man Michael Da Souza. I’ve yet to hear any West Indians complain about it. Some mothers on Mumsnet were concerned that their children may use some of the language in the playground and be accused of being racist. A bit far fetched I think however in reality I don’t really want my 4 year old to say ‘wha gowon’ instead of ‘hello’ or ‘dat thing is boom’ instead of ‘that’s great’ so I can understand the concern of some parents. But surely the simple solution is to not watch it? If you think it will influence your child in a negative way then simply switch over to a Disney channel or something equally sugar coated and glossy, there are plenty to choose from.
While people are so quick to judge and start complaining to the BBC about the possible negatives of the program it should be emphasised that the program is the only children’s program which is based on black characters and the voices are those of black people. On one hand we have the BBC Trust telling Radio 4 to be more inclusive of minorities, and when Cbeebies try to do something to show different sections of society, parents start grumbling. As far as Rastamouse is concerned, the positive themes of friendship, peace and love definitely outweigh the negative connotations of the possible use of Jamaican Patois in the playground. However people should remember that Cbeebies is for children of all backgrounds, and if you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Me on the other hand, I’m Irie man!