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One Love: Musicians Celebrate Marley's 60th Birthday
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Posted by:Feb 6th 2005, 01:13:07 pm
Fig Tree News TeamArtists 'Jammin' in Ethiopia to Honor Bob Marley

By Matthew Green

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Musicians from Africa to the Caribbean blasted out reggae beats to Ethiopians and Rastafarians from around the world on Sunday in honor of the 60th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth.

Waving red, green and gold flags in the main square of the Ethiopian capital, thousands danced to songs played in tribute to the Jamaican legend who brought reggae from the ghettos of Kingston to the world stage.


"Africa let's do it! I want the ladies to wind their bodies," bellowed Jamaican reggae artist Stone Love, hoping to generate more vigorous audience participation.


Dreadlocked music fans from the United States to South Africa made the trip to honor Marley, who considered Ethiopia the spiritual home of his Rastafarian faith and whose music married revolutionary lyrics with a belief in "One Love."


"It's the next big revolution of the world, man, music is the key," said Mor Rasta, 27, from Israel. "Now it's time for Rastafari to bring love to Africa," she said. "Yah man."


For Rastafarians the concert was an affirmation of their faith, which considers smoking marijuana a sacrament sanctioned by the Bible and worships Ethiopia's late emperor Haile Selassie, who died in 1975, as a living messiah.


"This is Zion man, God is black," said Yohannes, who was born in Trinidad and lived in Britain before moving to Ethiopia several years ago.


"Bob Marley, all of his songs are fire to Satan, the dragon quake. Bob Marley is still alive, vibrant style, Rastafari," he said, dressed in white robes and clutching a wooden pole flying Ethiopia's flag.


With police dressed in blue camouflage uniforms frisking people entering the Meskel square for the concert, there was no sign of the kind of pall of marijuana smoke that sometimes accompanied Marley's shows.


The acts were due to feature performances by Marley's widow Rita Marley, and his sons Damian, Ziggy and Stephen, as well as Benin's Angelique Kidjo and Ethiopia's Teddy Afro.


Kidjo, singing songs from as far afield as Cuba and Tanzania, reminded the audience of the themes of HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS (news - web sites) awareness and children's rights discussed during symposiums at the festivities, while others had a more Rastafarian flavor.


"I SHOT THE SHERIFF"


"African tribal war is now over, no more will we fight against each other," chanted Queen Moses, a Rastafarian from Jamaica who roved the stage reciting a rhyming tribute to Marley. "Africa unite...Jehovah is not dead."


Rita Marley provoked controversy last month when she said Marley would be reburied in Ethiopia as part of the celebrations, but she has since distanced herself from the remarks, saying the reburial would happen in due course.


Marley produced a huge canon of work before he died of cancer in 1981 aged 36, winning fans the world over with hits like "Jammin,"' "No Woman, No Cry" and "I Shot the Sheriff."


Some Ethiopians, many of whom are Orthodox Christians, have reservations about the Rastafarians' fondness for marijuana and reverence for their late emperor, but such differences were set aside on Sunday.


"He struggled through music for all Africa," said Daniel Yrade, 31, resting in the shade. "One love."

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