by Howard Campbell
This is the 45th year since the movie, The Harder They Come was released. The film was groundbreaking in many ways, most notably for helping introduce reggae and Jamaican culture to an international audience.
Part of that culture was Rastafari in the form of Ras Daniel Heartman who played Pedro, best friend of the movie’s main character Ivan, played by the star and Jamaican singer, Jimmy Cliff.
The Rastafarian in Jamaica was marginalized at the time. Many were jailed or had their locks cut by police for their religious beliefs which included that Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I is God.
Calm, non-violent Rastafarian
Ras Daniel Heartman did not have a major role in The Harder They Come, but his calm demeanor displayed in the movie, went against the violent ‘Blackheart Man’ image many in Jamaica had of the Rastaman.
It was the first time some persons outside of Jamaica saw what a Rastafarian looked like. Fans in North America, who saw the movie in small theaters, flocked to Jamaica to learn about the Rasta faith.
Respected, intuitive artist.
Born Lloyd George Roberts in Kingston, the Jamaica capital, Ras Daniel Heartman was not only a devout Rastafarian. He was a respected intuitive artist whose work made a mark on culturally-conscious youth in the 1970s.
One of those youth was Maxine Stowe, who would become a leading music industry figure with Sony International, Island Records and VP Records.
She remembers Heartman as “a very intense artist, very much a loner. It was all about his drawings, going out and selling his prints.”
In 1998, Ras Daniel Heartman moved to Tanzania. He died there two years later at age 47.