Today is Bob’s Day! 😊😊 Happy 75th Bob Marley!
In St. Ann Parish, Jamaica on this day in 1945, Reggae legend, Robert Nesta Marley was born. During his illustrious career, Bob sold well over 20 million records. A young Marley first got into the music industry as part of the group, The Wailers. This very same group contributed to the shaping of the reggae genre. In the 1970s, Marley decided to start a solo career and it wasn’t long before he became an international icon.
Everybody ‘knows’ who Bob was, but how much do we know about him? It is no doubt that he has done wonders for Jamaica and the reggae genre but what else has he done? Why do we still celebrate him today?
Bob Marley introduced Jamaica’s most popular genre to reggae music. He was one of the few artists, from a third world country to make such an impact globally. However, his legacy is not only to be found in his role of exposing Jamaica’s popular music around the globe nor his prolific output of albums composed of conscious lyrics and freedom songs. It is much more than that.
Bob Marley was a freedom fighter and his weapon was his music. Through his music, he fought against oppression to gain freedom for himself and his community. He was vocal about poverty, injustice and violence. For example, his song, ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, was written as a protest song for Jamaican people to ‘fight’ rights and to stand for what they believe in. This song is still relevant today, as many people still fight against racism and classism.
Redemption Song is also an example of one of his powerful songs. ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.’ Whenever I listen to this song, it reminds me to take control. It reminds me that I am not bound to the ‘chain-like’ thoughts in my mind. ‘One love’ is a worldwide favourite. It is a song about compassion and kindness; it encourages us to treat people equally, live in peace, equality and ‘one love’.
He is a symbol of freedom, especially in the third world and underdeveloped countries of Africa. Bob’s message resounded all over the world and festered in the hearts of Zimbabwe freedom fighters while it was the British colony of Rhodesia. During a special invite-only concert, unknown to the Wailers, police used tear gas to control the crowds that broke down and stampeded through the gates to see Marley on stage. Most members of the band ran for cover, but he returned to the stage to perform “Zimbabwe”. His words pierced through the chaos: “to divide and rule could only tear us apart, in every man chest, there beats a heart. So soon we’ll find out who is the real revolutionaries and I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.”
Besides music, Bob was also passionate about family life, culture and football. Marley had many children, the official Bob Marley website acknowledges 11 children. He was a Pan-Africanist and believed in the unity of African people worldwide. His beliefs were rooted in his Rastafari religious beliefs. He was substantially inspired by Marcus Garvey, and had anti-imperialist and Pan-Africanist themes in many of his songs, such as “Zimbabwe”, “Exodus”, “Survival”, “Blackman Redemption”, and “Redemption Song”.
Bob Marley’s life is the saga of a man who rose from humble beginnings to achieve worldwide greatness. His life and work will no doubt transcend many generations and he will be remembered as one of the world’s greatest musical legends.