A tribute to the musical legend, Bob Marley

Entertainment of Saturday, 7 February 2015

Source: Inusah Mohammed

Bob Marley

If there is any particular saying that rubbishes the statement that “Life begins at 40” then it is the short wise-saying in Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to blame that “The struggle of man begins at birth.” If there is any real life negation of the “Life begins at 40” notion, then it is the life of this tiny man who grew up in a tiny corner of the world yet shook the very foundation of human existence and achievement to the core that long after his death, the mention of his name increases with energized momentum as the days unfold.

For his album Legend released in 1984 to remain the bestselling Reggae album ever (10 times platinum in the US) with sales of more than 20 Million Copies, and Exodus album voted album of the century by the times magazine , his One Love song voted as the Song of the Millennium by the BBC, Jamaica’s third highest honor, the Jamaican Order of Merit and other awards, accolades and recognition that continue to rise with increasing crescendo with each passing day, show the unquantifiable amount of life in the short and transient thirty-six years he lived on mother earth.

This tiny man was born in the wee hours of the night at around 2 am on Wednesday, 6 February, 1945 in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, to Norval Sinclair Marley, a Sexagenarian White Jamaican and a then seventeen-year old ‘foolish’ girl named Cedella Booker. Named Robert Nesta Marley, weighing 7 pounds and 4 ounces with his afterbirth buried at the foot of one of his grandfather’s coconut trees, he became the person that projected and made popular the image of the Caribbean (a region that consists of about 700 islands, reefs and cays), became a global icon of peace to the world, a symbolic demi-god to some people of West Africa, a Redeemer to the Maoris of New Zealand a figure that completes the Rastafarian triumvirate with Emperor Haile Selassie and Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jnr, the man who preached Black Consciousness to the world earlier. To other nations of Asiatic origin, Bob Marley is next to God.

If music is supposed to carry a message, then Bob Marley is the greatest musician the world has ever seen. Greater than the prolific Mozart, legendary Bob Dylan and the visually-impaired yet musically super-gifted Stevie Wonder. He remains the most quoted musician ever in history and even surpasses most of the famous philosophers and academics of legendary status. With a musical theme that transcended every topic of social relevance profoundly highlighting Biblical themes that permeates down the consciousness of the listener.

As a Pan Africanist, he reechoed what Africa needs by asking in a Biblical style and fashion “How good and how pleasant it will be before God and Man, to see the unification of all Africans. As it’s been said already, let it be done.”

In a humanistic style and fashion, he touched on the subject of weapons of destruction that have caught the world in frenzy with nations embroiled in the manufacturing of it. “In this age of technological humanity, scientific atrocity Atomic mis-philosophy, nuclear mis-energy, it’s a world that forces lifelong insecurity.”

Politically, he was a unifier who identified with the ‘sufferahs’ which included the homeless, destitute, marginalized, poor and other categories of people viewed as the flotsam and jetsam of his society. He exhibited that profoundly when he succeeded in making two politically-sworn enemies join him on stage to shake hands together with him. The proceeds of the concert were meant for the provision of sanitary facilities to ‘sufferahs.’ That was a very small fraction of what this Legend stood for.

On that fateful day of his internment, the then Jamaican Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, delivered a perfect eulogy. He did not mince words when he hinted

“His message was a protest against injustice, a comfort for the oppressed. He stood there, performed there, his message reached there and everywhere. Today’s funeral service is an international right of a native son. He was born in a humble cottage nine miles from Alexandria in the parish of St. Ann. He lived in the western section of Kingston as a boy where he joined in the struggle of the ghetto. He learned the message of survival in his boyhood days in Kingston’s west end. But it was his raw talent, unswerving discipline and sheer perseverance that transported him from just another victim of the ghetto to the top ranking superstar in the entertainment industry of the third world.”

As we celebrate Bob Marley’s 70th birth Anniversary today, I have no other option than to reecho what the I’ Threes, the three women that backed Marley with their fruity and stentorian voices said concerning Bob Birhaani Selassie Kwabena Marley.

“We recognize Bob as David. Just as, how David had his harp, Bob had his guitar. The songs of Bob are Psalms now put to music.” Rita Marley

“We should all try to live the life he sang about and I am hoping that entertainers like myself will maintain the standard that he has left, so that Bob in his spiritual realms will see that his work was not in vain.” Judy Mowart.

“He came for a purpose and set a foundation for all of us and we can only use that to make ourselves better.” Marcia Griffiths.

Inusah Mohammed

NB: The writer is a National Service Person at the Graphic Communications Group Limited.