Today is the legend’s birthday. He would have been 70 years old if he were still alive. The whole world reflects on this man’s work, his only work, and that was his music.
“……Man is a Universe unto himself……” Bob Marley
As a young man I have to be honest with you. No one paid much attention to Bob Marley in Jamaica. If I could find an answer for our behavior then, looking back I would have to say we were immature and distracted by the music that drowned the rhythms of Reggae and the message of Bob. It mattered not that he was from Jamaica and the music was considered our music, as the saying says a Legend is never acknowledged in his own Country. Bob was no different. He never reached the ears of the young but like every artiste, he played his music knowing that those who heard it will be fed with fervent ‘Reggaeism‘ a name I gave the music of Bob and like ‘Catholicism” he was the chief shepherd, the musical Peter, the rock on which the Gospel of Bob was preached.
It was as if Bob was a preacher and he delivered his sermon is song, a modern day David as in the scriptures. Songs after songs, his music was like religion to the oppressed and to those whose burden was heavy and needed music as a sacrament. Bob knew that his success was not to be measured in record sales, but conversion of souls, souls that felt his music and was stirred by the message. He was that kind of a man. Bob was a prophet and we, as doubters and unbelievers, had him amongst us and did not pay attention.
…”tell the children the truth…”
…’none but ourselves can free our minds…”
…’when one door is closed, don’t you know, another is open…”
Prophetic as his words were, they were beyond the understanding of those that heard. Who would have understood what he meant when he said “tell the children the truth” or ‘none but ourselves can free our mind”? People in Jamaica only felt the music that carried the lyrics , sang the songs and repeated them as they would any song. 34 years later that message is just reaching home and now when we sing his songs, its a psalm, not just music for the ears. Its a prayer, not just a another reggae song. 34 years later the world took notice and now admits , privately or otherwise, that yes this man was a musical prophet.
Bob was in a universe all by himself. His universe was one destined by his creator and built by Bob with his musical genius , a genius that weaved words together and were spoken like a prayer with a musical intonation. That intonation , expressed through the divine rites of Rastafarianism, and through the symbolic reverence of the sacred herb of Kush, Bob’s universe was created where he lived daily and hourly, refusing to be swallowed by the distractions of the world. He was the preacher who preached and those who had ears to hear, let them hear.
Bob’s universe is real, is welcoming and its very much present 34 years after his death and today, and every day, we celebrate his music sing his lyrics and feel free. The world comes together , even for just one day, to pause and reflect on his contribution to mankind.
Great men are never respected in life, but often in death. I can say my life, 34 years later, from the time I as a young man heard his music , has been reborn. I consider my life truly blessed to have known him, seen him and heard him. Like that similar story of another prophet and healer, Bob did not feed the 5000 with fish and bread. He did one better. He fed billions of people with only his work, only his music, reaching more people than most like him and converting more people to be like him.