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Bob Marley - the Messenger becomes the Message

by Kirtan Bhana - TDS
High Commissioner of Jamaica, Joan Thomas Edwards and Mr Albert Edwards at the premiere of the Movie 'Bob Marley: One Love' in Pretoria on 13 February 2024. (photo: supplied)

19 February 2024

Robert Nesta Marley was born on 6 February 1945 in Nine Mile, Jamaica, to Cedella Booker, who worked on a plantation, and Norval Marley, a British Naval officer. His journey from humble beginnings on this Caribbean island to becoming a larger-than-life global icon in his 36 years on this planet is legendary and continues to inspire, four decades after his passing.

The recently released biopic "One Love" can only capture the poignant moments of Marley’s life and portray the essence of a life that transcends the sublime. Even British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir, known for his versatility in acting, stated that this was his most challenging role yet. Considering the history and time period of Bob Marley’s life, the world had just reached a peace agreement that ended the Second World War, triggering momentum for a change in the world order. The people of Jamaica, like those in other colonies around the world, rose up against British imperialism and gained independence in 1962 when Bob Marley was 17 years old.

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In 1966, Bob Marley married Rita Andersen, whom he met as a teenager while assisting her with her music. Together, they built a relationship that endured, raising their children. Rita Marley, who also sang backup vocals for Bob Marley and the Wailers, continues to keep his legacy alive after his passing; she is now 78 years old.

(photo 1 l-r) Ambassador Enrique Orta Gozalez of Cuba, Ambassador Mairin Moreno Merida of Venezuela and Maria Sueiro Rosabal - Cuba (photo 2) Bevelyn Basson and Ambassador Andre William Anguile of Gabon (photos supplied)

The adversities they faced as Rastafarians, including discrimination, racism, and injustice, strengthened their resolve. Bob Marley channelled these challenges into his music, producing hit records and electrifying live concerts. The assassination attempt on Bob Marley’s life in 1976, during which Rita was shot in the head, was a consequence of political turmoil and conflict in Jamaica as the country transitioned from colonialism. Their survival and full recoveries enhanced Bob Marley’s persona, seen by many as an intervention ‘strengthened by the hand of the Almighty.’

Bob Marley was a genius, an exceptional guitar player, and a gifted musician. His self-imposed exile in Europe after the attempt on his life may have been a godsend. He loved the sport of football, and when not working on his music, he enjoyed playing. Who knows? He may have become a footballing great if not for his music.
(Pictured clockwise) Ambassador Erika Ylonca Alvarez Rodrequez of the Dominican Republic, Ambassador Maria del Rosario Mina-Rojas of Colombia and High Commissioner Joan Thomas Edwards with Reggae artists and guests (photos supplied)
At the premiere of the movie ‘Bob Marley: One Love’ at the Nu Metro cinemas in Menlyn, Pretoria, High Commissioner Joan Thomas Edwards of Jamaica thanked everyone involved for their efforts in making the event possible, especially in February, celebrated as Reggae Month and the birth month of Bob Marley. The celebration of ‘One Love’ on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2024 also marks 30 years of relations between Jamaica and South Africa, coinciding with South Africa’s 30 years of freedom.
(Pictured clockwise) Ambassador Jacques Baril of Haiti, High Commissioner Stella Ndau from Malawi and Mr Ndau, and High Commissioner Joan Thomas Edwards with Ambassador Julio Fiol of Chile and his daughters (photos supplied)

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport of Jamaica, Olivia Grange joined the screening virtually and recalled the many moments she shared with Bob Marley. She said that she could sense, even back then, that there was something special about his music.

Bob Marley’s revolutionary lyrics, the soulful rhythm and beat of Reggae, resonated with the freedom fighters of South Africa’s liberation movements, inspiring them to ‘Get Up, Stand Up.’ He deeply connected to his African roots as a Rastafarian, promoting his vision of Pan-Africanism and the unity of the people of the continent.

The contradiction of his mixed race enlightened him to the fallacy of inferiority and superiority, reinforcing his message of the oneness of humanity.

He is the message for the current geopolitical world—a reminder that ‘every little thing is going to be alright.’

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