By Melissa Martin, Ph
The footprints of Bob Marley appear on the sand in Jamaica and across the earth wherever freedom is held hostage. Likened to Martin Luther King, Jr., Marley desired peace for his people. And for all humanity. Music was the vehicle for his message. His passionate personality was his vehicle for harmony in a chaotic world of violence.
I am remembering Bob Marley with my words in this column. “Bob, you are missed. But your legend of light shines on and on and on.”
Nesta Robert Marley was born in 1945. Being biracial, Marley was bullied as a child, but declared, “I’m not on the white man’s side, or the black man’s side. I’m on God’s side.”
Marley died of cancer in 1981 in Miami at the age of 36 years. He was laid to rest in Jamaica.
According to a 2014 article in the Jamaican Observer, “The lives of many people all over the world have been profoundly influenced by Jamaicans such as Ms Mary Seacole, Messrs Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Claude McKay and Usain Bolt. Some who were revolutionary political activists destined to change the world spent an important interval in Jamaica. The most famous was the liberator of Latin America, Simon Bolivar, who penned the famous ‘Jamaica Letter’ from these environs.” www.jamaicaobserver.com/.
Marley received The United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World in 1978. On April 22, 1978, the One Love Peace Concert was held at Kingston’s National Stadium where Marley asked two opposing politicians to join hands. “You entertain people who are satisfied. Hungry people can’t be entertained – or people who are afraid. You can’t entertain a man who has no food,” is a quote by Marley.
The 74th birthday of Marley, the reggae legend, was celebrated at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road in Jamaica in February 2019, according to The Gleaner.
The Bob Marley museum is situated on the site of the legendary musician’s home. “Bob’s home is filled with rich memories and treasured mementos, which seek to preserve the life and accomplishment of this great Jamaican and outstanding musician.” www.bobmarleymuseum.com.
The Bob Marley Foundation implements social intervention projects that aim to preserve the spiritual, cultural, social and musical ideals that guided and inspired him. “Never expect God to do for you what you don’t do to others,” Marley avowed.
A March 10, 2005 article published in the Rolling Stones sang a tribute to Marley. “But Marley’s early-to-mid-1970s Island recordings were also something a good deal more than pioneering entertainment: They put forth an uncompromising vision of a society kept in hell and ready to storm its gates. Songs like “Burnin’ and Lootin’,” “Small Axe,” “Concrete Jungle,” “Revolution,” “Them Belly Full” and “War” — especially “War,” with its proclamation of eternal worldwide conflict: “Until the philosophy which hold one race superior/And another inferior/Is finally and permanently discredited” — brandish unsettling images and incendiary pronouncements that are among the most authentic in modern music.”
So Much Things to Say, a book by Roger Steffens (Norton & Company, 2017) contains myriad interviews by those who knew Marley. His story begins when his white father abandoned his pregnant mother. From being raised in the slums to becoming a cultural icon, Marley remained true to his roots. He sang about the worst of humanity and the best of humanity.
Sinner, saint, or both. Marley was quite a colorful character. Fathering multiple children with multiple women. Being an advocate for marijuana as a spiritual restorative herb. Humanity’s heroes are not without flaws and foibles. “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect — and I don’t live to be — but before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean!” stated Marley.
The legacy of Bob Marley, the singer, the humanitarian, and the man, remains.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, and educator. She lives in U.S.