Remembering Bob Marley: The man who put ‘Ethiopia on a pedestal’

Source: South Florida Caribbean News
Robert Nesta Marley OD an Iconic Musical Figure for all Times
By Abdul Muhsin

MIAMI – February 6th 1946 was the Earthday for Brother Bob Marley, born of a very modest Black woman and a naval Whiteman in Nine Mile St. Ann Jamaica.

Who would have thought that when mother Cedella Booker gave him that box (acoustic) guitar, that Bob would move to Kingston, form the Wailers and become one of the largest music names the world has ever seen? Who would have thought that Jamaican Radio would initially refuse to play his music and the world would eventually beg to be the first to debut a new single when released or even pre-released? Who knew that the music labeled by the Jamaica media streggea, fool fool, music with no strict European form, would become a music form force that would capture the world for decades to come?

Yes a form, a genre that is studied and mastered by many that are not even Jamaica. The form that was lead by Bob Marley, the music from the ghettos of Kingston, like the Blues of the Southern US and Chicago, that told the story of the plight of the people. The story of political strife and human suffering. It took the rest of the world, Europe and America to recognize the genius of Bob Marley before Jamaica realized the gem they were ignoring for many years.

Rastaman Vibration spoke to the vast concerns of the Jamaican people that mirrored the plight of all oppressed people around the world. It gave the world a perspective through the lens of a Rasta that lives what he sang about. White people started to hear what Bob was saying about how to rise above hatred, classism and racism and love without fear. Babylon by Bus brought the music to those audiences eager to see the icon, and pick up the banner for peace and justice. “Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war”. Lyrics taken from a speech written and delivered to the United Nations by Halle Sal lassie the first Emperor of Ethiopia, on October 6, 1963, has become the anthem for oppressed people.

Can you hear these lyrics when you look at the plight of the Palestinian people? Can you hear those lyrics when you see what is happening in Darfur? Can you even hear those lyrics when you see what is happening to our youth in our inner cities in America and around the world? No other musician has touched the world’s deep inhibitions the way Bob Marley has.

One may want to acknowledge Bob Dylan and Bono as to have that impact. But really, Bob Marley transitioned 28 years ago and Time magazine named Exodus the Album of the century and the BBC called One Love the song of the century.

Bob’s lyrics and songs are being compared to thoughts of President Barack Obama. One Love was featured in the inaugural celebration for the new president. Young people from American and around the world, who never had a chance to see Bob live, are revering his music and lifestyle.

Bob was a blessing in more ways than one. Reggae music owes its popularity to Bob. Chris Blackwell’s vision of using a light skin biracial reggae artist to bring this music to the world’s stage was a brilliant strategic move. He had tried it with Jimmy Cliff, Millie Small and others; it didn’t catch on like Bob Marley did. He knew at the time that white people would accept this music coming from a biracial man before a darker skinned African Jamaican. It worked, but it was the talent and the growth mindset that propelled Bob to the top of the world charts.

So now we celebrate Bob Marley’s birth, his music and his contribution to humanity. Now we hear his name in the company of Marcus, Martin, Malcolm, Mandela and most recently Obama. A short man from 9 Mile, like that other short man from St. Ann, has put forth a body of work that is being studied in the halls of academia. It is ashame that someone else had to sanction Bob Marley for Jamaicans to realize what we had was a jewel.

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4 Responses to “Remembering Bob Marley: The man who put ‘Ethiopia on a pedestal’”


  1. 1 T.A. Feb 10th, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Makes me proud to be Jamaican! :)

  2. 2 Alefe Mar 3rd, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Makes me proud to be brother of Bob, and remembers me what the bible said about Ethiopia.

  3. 3 john Nov 26th, 2010 at 2:04 am

    thank you

  4. 4 sean Dec 3rd, 2010 at 4:33 am

    wow, not the best article, sounds like someone writing their report the night before its due, and certain parts like “He knew at the time that white people would accept this music coming from a biracial man before a darker skinned African Jamaican” um…I really doubt that has anything to do with it, its his music, not his racial background, and he actually did have pretty decent success back then even, I’m sorry but it just sounds like you are echoing what others say, without much understanding of why ethiopia is so important, what rastafarianism really is, or why bob marley is a good musician :P

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