There is no doubt of the legendary status of Bob Marley. He introduced us to a whole new dimension of music itself. Even as he entertained with his inspiring vocals and vibrant dance steps, helping us forget our troubles and staying positive, he never ceased to be an advocate for justice and freedom of the oppressed. Bob Nesta Marley touched the lives of millions. He is still doing so from the afterlife.
Bob Marley’s Early Life
Bob Marley was born Robert Nesta Marley on February 6, 1945 to Norval Sinclair Marley (a British Jamaican) and Cedilla Marley (an Afro-Jamaican). Marley’s mother was just 18 at the time he was born. He lived his early life in the rural community of Nine Miles of St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. The customs of the residents of Nine Miles derived from their African Ancestry would have a huge impact on Marley’s music. Most of these customs were passed down from generation to generation in form of storytelling.
Barely into his Teenage, Bob Marley moved to the rugged Trench Town community of Kingston. Bob had to learn to defend himself from the town’s bullies and bad people. Due to his fighting skills, he earned himself the nickname Tuff Gong. Bob Marley lived a life of action and constant activity. He was highly influenced by the music of Fats Domino and Ray Charles – which were trending in Jamaica at that time. Just like most Jamaican youths, he saw music as an escape route from his rough life in the slums.
He began his music career at the tender age of 16. In 1961, he recorded his first single titled “Judge Not”. By 1966, Marley married Rita and subsequently moved with his family to the United States in search of greener pastures. Often, he was subjected to racial discrimination in the US. He was one of the few global figures who truly understood how ugly racism was. He campaigned tirelessly in his songs and concerts for the liberation of the oppressed. In his hit song War, he warned that “until the philosophy that holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war.” He also re-echoed the words of the Martin Luther King Jr. , that “until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes, then everywhere is war.”
During his stay in the US, Bob Marley’s ideology quickly shifted to Rastafarianism. He grew out his hair into dreadlocks, and later returned to Jamaica. There, he eventually formed the famous “Bob Marley and the Wailers” Reggae band. He would go on to release a number of legendary and inspiring albums that remain priceless and timeless in our minds today. Bob Marley fought hard against racism and oppression with his major arsenal, “his music”.
Some of Marley’s numerous songs describing prejudice and discrimination are “One Love,” “War,” and “Buffalo Soldier.”
Today, Marley’s iconic influence is evident everywhere you go. His influence has also transcended the reggae genre and today, you hear varieties of musical sounds made with a blend of his unique style.
Love for Football
It is common knowledge that Bob Marley loved playing the game of soccer. It’s quite interesting to note that Bob actually had it included in his touring contracts that he should have ready access to a football pitch. He surrounded himself with people from the sport. Bob Marley was nicknamed Skipper due to his obvious passion for football.
His Rastafarian Beliefs & Smoking of Herb
Deeply rooted in Marley’s Rastafari beliefs,were his love and passion for African Culture and Pan-Africanism. He believed in the Unity of African people all over the world.
Marley held believed that independence of African countries from European imperialism was a huge victory for all those in the African diaspora. In the song titled “Africa Unite”, he sings of a desire for all peoples of African ancestry to come together and fight against “Babylon”; equally, in the song “Zimbabwe”, he celebrates the freedom of the whole continent of Africa.
Bob Nesta Marley loved Marijuana or Herb as it was called by the Rastafari. He was a strong supporter of its spiritual and healing abilities. He equally supported its legalization.
Bob once said in an interview, “Now, when you smoke, it make you cool, you know? It make you stimulate your mind, and make you sit down and meditate”.
Bob Marley in Africa
Bob visited the spiritual home of the Rastafari Movement (Ethiopia) at the end of 1978.
In April 1980, Marley and the Wailers performed during Zimbabwe’s Independence concert at the invitation of the country’s newly elected president Robert Mugabe. This further buttressed the significance of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ to African Culture.
Unknown to the to the band, the Zimbabwe Independence concert was solely for a selected group of media and political dignitaries. As Bob Marley and The Wailers started their performance, hundreds of Zimbabweans broke into the stadium and police fired teargas at them; they all left but Bob Marley returned to perform “Zimbabwe onstage. The following day, Bob Marley and the Wailers returned to the Stadium and put on a free show for 80,000 people.
Everything with a beginning also has an end. In 1977, doctors discovered cancer in Marley’s toe which eventually spread all over his skin. He fought bravely, but unfortunately, passed on in a Miami Hospital in May 11, 1981. Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the streets to pay their final respects.
Bob Marley’s Legacy Lives Forever
He left his stamp on the hearts of people of different colors and cultures.
In August 2008, a statue of Bob Marley during a rock music festival was unveiled in Serbia; its inscription read “Bob Marley Fighter For Freedom Armed With A Guitar”.
The people of Koh Lipe, Thailand, celebrate Bob Marley’s birthday every year, for three days with a cultural festival. Bob Marley is also honored every year in New Zealand, on his birthday.
For the Zimbabwean freedom fighters that listened to Bob Nesta Marley’s music,they drew inspiration and strength from the deep lyrics. In 2010, his album “catch a fire” was added to the Grammy’s Hall of Fame.