By Zinhle Nokwazi Hlatshwayo
“He made his reggae music to uplift us, inform, entertain, inspire, and make change in the world. He’s a musician, a poet and songwriter, a philosopher, a soldier, an activist and a leader” – Cedella Marley.
Nesta Robert Marley, more commonly known as “Bob Marley” was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for the reggae band Bob Marley & the Wailers. Even years after his death, Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited with helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience.
The lyrics and mood of Bob Marley’s hottest songs had evolved from lively sweetness, to dark anthems from the Kingston Jamaica underclass. Bob was drawn to this “rude boy” music more and more. As Bob began to embrace the Rastafarian movement, he embraced its signature music the most, Reggae. He made this music genre his own. Reggae had political and cultural components that gave people of colour their history back, a sense of unity and pride.
Change- once it is being talked about, and once it is being introduced in any society, generally is looked at with great suspicion. Bob Marley embodied the change which would later occur in the Jamaican society, and as a result was the target of this suspicion. Bob Marley had an enormous desire to communicate with people about his experience and his beliefs. Everywhere Bob Marley went, the seeds of the Jamaica sound (Reggae) were planted, at a crucial time when a lot of the black nations were so uneducated about who they were and where they come from- i.e. their African heritage.
Bob Marley drew many supporters to his concert at the Lyceum Theatre; at this massive concert people realised that there, they had seen and heard the beginning of the new order, one which fought against racial discrimination. Bob’s 1974 album was loaded with howling black power songs like: I Shot the Sheriff and the sizzling Get up Stand Up. At this point, the whole world was snapping to attention at this scrawny Rastafarian who was becoming the best known figure in the third world. Bob saw himself as a freedom fighter and in my opinion he was a freedom fighter and his music was his weapon. “His message was a protest against injustice, a comfort for the oppressed, a search for peace and a cry for hope”- Jamaican Prime Minister, Michael Manley. Upon his death, Bob Marley had left a legacy of inspiration. Today, many people are still celebrating the music of Bob Marley.
“Redemption Song” is a song by Bob Marley and it is the final track on Bob Marley & the Wailers’ ninth album. The song is considered one of Marley’s seminal works, with Rolling Stone having listed it as number 66 among The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It contains some key lyrics derived from a speech given by the Pan-Africanist, Marcus Garvey.
In my opinion, Redemption Song is very well deserving of its position in The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Its liberating and inspirational message is powerful beyond measure.
We are going to “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery” because whilst others might free the body, “none but ourselves can free the mind”. The mind is your only ruler, it is sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.
As the internationally worshiped superstar rests in peace, his music continues to live on and inspire.