Dr. Kingsley ‘Ragashanti’ Stewart is quite known in Jamaica for his remarkable coming of age life story from living in the streets of Kingston, running afoul with the law on multiple occasions, placed in several boys’ homes, incarcerated in several jails, to obtaining his doctorate in anthropology and being a lecturer at universities in Jamaica and in other countries. He grew up in rough, urban, working-class areas of Kingston, including Water House, Olympic Way, Jacques Road, Waltham Park Road, August Town and Southside. After his many run-ins with the law, subsequent incarcerations in jails and the experience of a very meaningful event, he decided to turn his life around.
Dr. Stewart’s dramatic transformation was made possible through what he refers to as a “worldview shift: a deliberate process of identifying, changing and consciously managing the learned cultural principles that guide my thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” His adjustment in his worldview allowed him to eliminate his justifications for self-destructive behavior and to consciously adopt, use and maintain new principles that empowered him to live successfully.
Dr. Stewart applies a 5-step formula for success in his life and lives by the motto: Laugh, Learn and Grow.
Ragashanti holds that a large part of his difficult but successful worldview shift was due to his ability to access a very valuable and critical psycho-cultural base given to him by his mother. A major part of this base has to do with his mother’s teachings on the multiple benefits of a spiritual foundation, solid education and to “never be ashamed of country people culture.��� Dr Stewart stresses that the same “country people culture”, which he argues is the essence of Jamaican culture, is actually a powerful tool for success and happiness. It was therefore no surprise that a very critical part of Ragashanti’s transformation involved high educational achievement with the equally unsurprising eventuality of him becoming an anthropologist: a social scientist who studies culture and identity. Neither is it surprising that Ragashanti constantly refers to himself as ‘Miss Cherry Washbelly’: a Jamaican reference to him being the last child for his mother, and homage to his mother’s belief that one should never be ashamed of their true cultural identity.
Ragashanti is also a well known media personality and entertainer. In entertainment he’s referred to as “the King of Mix Up”, where “mix up” is a Jamaican term that generally refers to entertaining and extraordinary events that occur among people. Dr. Stewart argues that mix-ups are powerful methodological tools to better understand the nature of cultural systems and can reveal the patterned dynamics of people’s personalities. In other words, “if yuh waan know how people really stay den yuh haffi check out di mix-up dem.”
Dr. Ragashanti is also a recognized expert on Jamaica’s Reggae Dancehall Culture. He has lectured extensively across the world on multiple topics from Jamaican popular music and dance cultural space.
Dr. Stewart obtained his B.A. with a double major in Psychology and African Studies from Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, New York. He then continued his studies at the University of Connecticut, where he obtained a M.A. in Counseling and Psychotherapy, and his doctorate (Ph.D.) in anthropology. He then lectured at the University of the West Indies for nine years.
Ragashanti is a well-known media personality in Jamaica who has hosted numerous radio and television shows. He is specifically renowned as a popular radio talk-show host. He hosted the radio programs “Disclosure”, “Upfront” and “Ragashanti Live” on HOT 102 FM, Newstalk 93 FM and Nationwide News Network FM. He is considered highly controversial in his talk-shows due to his militant activism on behalf of “ghetto people and country people” and his fearlessness in discussing matters related to sex and sexuality. Ragashanti is also known as a hilarious comedian in his shows.
Ragashanti presently resides in the US and hosts Ragashanti Live on Tambourine Radio. Ragashanti is also a popular entertainer, MC and host, delivering his comedic performances at clubs and stage shows. He’s also active on the speaker’s circuit doing speeches on his transformation from being self-destructive to being successful. He also speaks on Jamaican and Caribbean culture, Jamaica’s Dancehall culture, and various topics on Culture, Identity Development and Personal Success.