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Briland's Dr. Lea Percentie: Remembering Bob Marley
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Posted by:Feb 21st 2005, 02:17:59 pm
Fig Tree News TeamFebruary 21, 2005
Tribute To Bob Marley

Bob Marley's music was the hope of the downtrodden, the oppressed, the victims of injustice and a system manipulated by crooked and corrupt individuals

This month of February has been designated Black History month and acknowledgements of the heroes who contributed to better the lives of those of African descent are being observed. One such hero who made a difference in the struggle for justice is the legendary Jamacian-born raggae superstar, Robert "Nesta Marley". On february 6th 2005, Bob Marley would have celebrated his 60th birthday. However, this year his birthday was observed with much controversy as there was the announcement by his widow Rita that the body of Bob Marley would be exhumed and reburied in Ethiopia, his spiritual home. This controversy reflects the kind of life that Bob Marley lived.

Yes, he was a Jamacian national hero having received the Order of Merit Award, Jamaica's highest civilian honour but the possibility of a relocation demonstrates that his accomplishments extended far beyond the borders of Jamaica. Understandably, Jamaicans are jealously guarding their native son, but the fact is Bob Marley is a world hero. Bob Marley was a "Universal Man!" When one looks at the Caribbean, other then Fidel Castro, Bob Marley is probably the most known. Twent-four years after his early death, Bob Marley is as popular today if not more so than he was when he died.

Bob Marley had long earned the reputation as a musical genius. He was to music what William Shakespeare was to literature. In his short time on this earth, his music had gone to all four corners of the earth, In 1979 while a student at Georgetown University in Washington D.C, I met a fellow student from North Yemen, an isolated country on the Arabian peninsula with a Marxist dictatorship government. When I inquired of this student if he had ever heard of Bob Marley, not only did he reply in the affirmative, but he also had in his possession almost the entire collection of Bob Marley's music.

What separated Bob Marley from the rest wasn't just the music, but the meaning of the music. Bob Marley's music was the hope of the downtrodden, the oppressed, the victims of injustice and a system manipulated by crooked and corrupt individuals whose only god and salvation was the almighty dollar. His music was the conscience of man in the plight of man's inhumanity against man. He told people to "get up and stand up for their rights!" Bob Marley, like Sister Teresa of Calcutta had a caring concern of those displaced by war or suffering from hunger and were forced to exodus in a world where "only the fittest of the fittest will survive!" Then there were those who would sell their talents to the highest bidder without any thought of human dignity.

These Judases or mercenaries were justly condemned by Bob Marley, Governments who would sell out their countries pride for "guns, spare parts and money" were just as evil as those who took advantage and exploited the misery of third world countries. The system of colonialism so much a part of Caribbean history was a great tragedy. Unparallel in the history of mankind was the slave trade and that one way voyage aboard "pirate ships" that uprooted and forcefully transported millions of Africans across the middle passage to a life of a living hell. These atrocities were carried out with the full blessing and blind approval of many churches, governments and learned men. This "sucking the blood of the sufferers" is referred to as "Babylon" and reminds us of the way the people of Israel were treated when they were taken captive to the city of Babylon in the book of Psalms.

Bib Marley's music is based on the philosophy of life. It emphasis the principles of biblical teaching with the expectation that on the day when the final trumpet sounds and everyone is summoned to give account, that good would triumph over evil as in the book of Revelations. Unlike some of his predecessors such as Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey who were seeking justice for the black man, Bob Marley like Dr Martin Luther King believed that ALL oppression must end. Following in the footsteps of Marcus Garvey who prophesied the crowning of a child African king to unite Africa, Bob Marley's praise of wisdom for Haile Salassie of Ethiopia, a direct descendant of King Solomon was the cry for freedom for the black man. Ironically, Ethiopia was the victim of colonial genocide as an unprovoked war with Italy resulted in tens of thousands of Ethiopians dying from chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. When addressing the world body called the Leagues of Nations, Haile Salassie reminded the world that "until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and totally abandoned and discredited....we'll have war!"

For Bob Marley, without unity there can be no progress to end conflicts. With pre-election violence in Jamaica in the 1970s, in an effort to end the violence, Bob Marley staged a "One Love" concert where he bought Edward Seaga and Michael Manley, leaders of the two major political parties to hold hands on stage. For his efforts he was rewarded with a bullet to the chest in an "ambush in the night" as someone tried to assassinate him.

Despite his well intended motives, either out of ignorance or prejudice, Bob Marley was misunderstood by far too many Many voiced disapproval of his ritual smoking of "ganga" while meditating and associated it with the criminal element. When questioned by a Canadian reporter about this and what people thought about it, he coolly replied, "that these are the same people who crucified Jesus Christ!" In a later interview, when reference was made to the tens of millions of dollars he had amassed due to the success of his music if he was a rich man, he rhetorically ask the question "does money make you rich?" The problem with the world is that our priorities are in the wrong place.

In 1977, Bob Marley under much ignorant protest did a performance in Nassau. No where else was the criticism more bold than what came from the Bahamas Christian Council. They felt that his performance would lead to lawlessness, drug abuse, lack of respect for others, etc. Indeed for those who knew better, nothing could be further from the truth. In the 1984 Commission of Inquiry investigating drug smuggling, corruption, etc in the Bahamas, Bob Marley's name was never called as having contributed to this tragic state of affairs in the Bahamas. Only greedy, uncaring and selfish persons, some with high administrative positions in the Bahamas were blamed.

Undoubtedly, long after his spirit flew away to Zion, the legend of Bob Marley will live on for a long time. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a "Root, Rock, Reggae" concert that featured Ziggy, Stephen and Damien Marley. Clearly, these dynamic Performers inspired by their father continue to carry out Jah's work to the fullest.

Dr.Leatendore Percentie, D.D.S
Boston, Massachusetts
February 14th 2005

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