Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley (February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for the ska, rocksteady and reggae bands The Wailers (1964–1974) and Bob Marley & The Wailers (1974–1981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited for helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience.
Marley's best known hits include "I Shot the Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", "Could You Be Loved", "Stir It Up", "Jamming", "Redemption Song", "One Love" and, together with The Wailers, "Three Little Birds", as well as the posthumous releases "Buffalo Soldier" and "Iron Lion Zion". The compilation album, Legend (1984), released three years after his death, is reggae's best-selling album, being 10 times Platinum (Diamond) in the U.S., and selling 20 million copies worldwide.
I was excited about Bob Marley’s birthday, as I am every year. I have to say there are some artists/singers that are prophets with microphones. When I listen to Bob Marley, Al Green, and Sade or even right on down to our sister Jill Scott, I realize that some people have a gift with music that is straight from the mouth of God.
I could not believe the headlines when I read that Jamaica was canceling the tribute concert to Bob Marley that has been held every year there since 1992. The tribute is held all around the world. I thought to myself that I am not going to Jamaica until they respect Bob Marley for his contributions to a ghetto that is now considered a beautiful island because of his connection to it. The powers-that-be use his name and likeness to sell the vacation of a lifetime to tourists. Come on, you saw the commercials. I would not have ever wanted to visit this place had Bob Marley not sang about it. They cancelled the concert over a noise ordinance. Isn’t it funny how whenever Africans are doing something, celebrating us and having fun, the powers-that-be always make it out to be something negative. The OZ fest and those tired Grateful Dead concerts can be held anywhere and no one says anything. I know Africans can’t get Bob Marley to play loud enough for satisfaction no matter how powerful the sound system is, so who was complaining?
It would not be fair for me not to mention my favorite Bob Marley song and say I am writing a tribute. But to try and come up with a favorite song is just not fair to my readers or me. I love everything Bob Marley sings. My Grandmother use to say, “Al Green could sing anything and she would by it.” I feel the same way about Bob Marley music. I don’t have a favorite, but certain songs play in my head all the time, like, “Africa Unite” and “Black Survivors“. They say every hero needs a theme song, so if I were a hero, I would definitely want “Black Survivors” to be my anthem. I hear certain lyrics from him all the time, like “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look? Some say it’s just a part of it, we have to fulfill the book.”
I think about Jamaica and how I was so disappointed when I got there. When I stepped off the plane, the first thing I saw was a big ass ‘stamp’ proclaiming Christopher Columbus as the founder. I thought to myself, you have got to be kidding me! This devil done stole the planet. I don’t know who really discovered America or Jamaica but I know if it wasn’t for Bob Marley I would not have been there. I dreamed of moving to Atlanta as a kid because I knew that’s where Black folks were. I then I matured and dreamed of going to Jamaica because it seemed like the closest thing to Africa for a cheap price. I got there and no one had locks and I quickly realized the powers-that-be just use Bob Marley’s name to attract tourists. The island is ran by Indians, not Native Americans, real Indians from India and of course the British and French are getting their pockets fat off of the island. I didn’t see not one Rasta and when I asked about them, I was told “They are up in the mountains and you don’t want to go there because the people are bad.”
I immediately thought about the south side of Chicago, where I am from, and how people would say the same thing about us. If you look at WGN, which is shown all over the country, you will think that to the people of Chicago, gang banging is their religion and the only jobs people respect is drug dealing. I have to say that, that is definitely not true. I have participated in both and I can tell you 99% percent of the people who actually do it would rather be doing something productive. I immediately put together a team to get me up in those mountains to see my people. I got up there and all the Rasta’s had bald heads and they treated me like I was the one who was special. I couldn’t believe it because some Rasta’s in the states act like you are committing a crime if you growing locks and you are not Rasta. So to see them with bald heads looking like monks and being truly righteous, I was blown away. I realized how poor the natives lived and how they catered to Europeans all day begging for American dollars.
I thought to myself of how Bob Marley asking someone when the last time they have been to Jamaica, would be like asking someone when the last time they have been to Haiti before the earthquake. I love the fact that the Marley family is making some money off of Bob Marley’s name because the devils that run the economy on that island certainly are making a killing. When ever I go to these islands, like Jamaica or Mexico, I am amazed at how Europeans create playgrounds in the middle of other people’s misery. If you walk outside your hotel in Negril, Jamaica or Cancun, Mexico, and go into the city, you will quickly realize how the natives are thrown to the out skirts and the powers-that-be party and make all the money while the people as Bob would say “suffer and suffer in every way.” I look at the moving of Africans out of the inner city in every major city in America from New York (Harlem) to Chicago, where they have moved all of the African people to the suburbs and all of the Europeans back into the city and I think to myself, ‘Can this be what’s going on with all the taking over of the major cities? Will we all live on the out skirts in poverty while Europeans enjoy the access to the city and the right to vote for mayors and city officials because they are in the city?’ If you live outside of certain areas, you can’t vote for the Mayor of another city. People in College Park, GA found this out during this year’s mayoral election when they couldn’t vote for Kasim Reed over candidate Mary Norwood.
I woke up on Wednesday morning and the autopsy for Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the Imam killed in Detroit, was completed and it stated that he had been shot 20 times and was also handcuffed when agents finally got to the scene to investigate. I thought of my brother Fred Hampton Sr. from Chicago who was killed in his sleep by authorities that shot him over 20 times. Then I thought of Bob’s words, “How long shall they kill our Prophets while we stand aside and look? Some say it is just a part of it, we have to fulfill the book.” I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I am ready for a new book and the first chapter should be about with whom we are spending our money and the second chapter should be about whom we are banning for exploiting our Prophets, Messengers and Messiahs. From Abraham to Jesus all the way down to Muhammad. I will be the first to say to all Rastas and people whom just love Bob Marley ban Jamaica until they respect the man who introduced the world to Jamaica and Rastafarianism. Until truth prevails my eyes will be watching.