HONORABLE ROBERT NESTA MARLEY OM – GLOBAL MUSIC ICON
Jamaicans in the Diaspora renew call for Marley to be named 8th National Hero
By Anthony Turner
New York: A year before Bob Marley chose Zion in 1981, Jamaica’s most famous son Robert Nesta Marley, OM hailed the transformation of Rhodesia into Zimbabwe with a stirring performance at the Independence Day celebrations in Salisbury. A few years earlier in the strife torn political atmosphere of Jamaica, he united then Prime Minister of Jamaica Michael Manley and leader of the opposition leader Edward Seaga on stage at the One Peace Concert on April 21, 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica.
Internationally, Marley’s work has been recognized time and time again. In 1999, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame. At the turn of the century, British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC proclaimed his song “One Love,” the “Song of the Century.” Time Magazine then named “Exodus” “Album of the Century”. Quite and extraordinary accomplishment considering his song and album won ahead of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston, Celine Dilon and other top American recorders. In 2001, Marley’s named was engraved on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He remains theonly Jamaican to be so bestowed.
It is clear Marley’s impact was more than musical. As journalist Malika Lee Whitney wrote in her book ‘Reggae King of the World – “With his lyric litany he attacked those forces that were responsible for the social conditions in which he lived and dared to ask them why. He provoked a conscious awareness among people all over the world and encouraged them to take stock of themselves and to make whatever adjustments to their lifestyles that were necessary.”
Caught up with some influential Jamaicans living stateside who two years ago called on the Andrew Holness administration of Jamaica to name Robert Nesta Marley the 8th national hero of the island.
Community activist and founder and CEO of Team Jamaica Bickle in Queens, NY Irwine Clare echoes this sentiment.
“There are very few individuals who have had such a profound impact on humanity. His message – that is so eloquently delivered through his music – inspires Kings, Presidents and the common man. He is a Third Worldman with a First World mission” Clare said.
Bobby Clarke, CEO of Irie Jam Media supports the notion that Marley should be a national hero.
“Bob Marley is the ideal candidate for such a prestigious honor given his accomplishments in the field of music.”
Clarke asserts, ‘Marley had extra ordinary talent. His impact was global. His message of peace, love and spiritual unity continues to inspire the world. He is certainly the most popular Jamaican to have trod the earth and he single-handedly put reggae music on the map as an international music form.”
Irie Jam’s Executive VP Lou Grant said “Bob Marley is reggae’s most transcendent and iconic figure. Bob was the first Jamaican artist to achieve international superstardom and in the process introduced the music of his native island to the far-flung corners of the globe.”
He reiterates, “Bob’s face remains one of the world’s most recognizable images and his name for that matter, music and image are synonymous with Jamaican tourist culture and national heritage. His music, image and philosophy have been used to punctuate any and everything good and positive about Jamaica for decades.”
Grant went further, affirming that “Marley’s music gave voice to the day-to-day struggles of the Jamaican experience, vividly capturing not only the plight of the country’s impoverished and oppressed, but also the devout spirituality which remains their source of strength. His songs of faith, devotion and revolution created a legacy which continues to live on not only through the music of his extended family but also through generations of artists the world over touched by his genius. Indeed his legacy transcends political, religious, racial, generational, historical, sociological and economic paradigms. His voice became the voice of the masses of the people of Jamaica and this was clearly demonstrated in the celebration that became his funeral on the most significant day of national mourning that the island has ever experienced.”
Ironically while the world has proclaimed Marley as their hero, successive governments in Jamaica have done little to suggest they are ready to entertainment the idea of Marley being a National Hero. Maybe they are not comfortable with a ghetto youth, a revolutionary, a womanizer, a rude boy, a soul rebel, a duppy Conqueror and a pot smoking Rastaman being a national hero of Jamaica.
It seems however the ‘Reggae King’ had a premonition that someday his life and work would be scrutinized. The lyrics to “Judge Not” offer some insight.
“Who are you to judge me, and the life I live? I know that I’m not perfect and that I don’t claim to be, so before you point your fingers, make sure your hands are clean.” In another song, Marley chants “People say: I’m a rebel, let them talk; talk won’t bother me.”So as we celebrate the reggae king’s 75th earth strong this year, let’s crown him the right way, Fact is there is no other today who is more deserving of such an honor. Bob Marley…you’re our hero forever. One Love.