21 April 2002 Light a Fire " The reservoir of music he has left behind is like an encyclopedia,' says Judy Mowat t of the I-Threes (Bob Marley's backup singers). 'When you need to refer to a certain situation or crisis, their will always be a Bob Marley song that will relate to it. Bob was a musical prophet." (bob marley. com). To most people in this world Bob Marley was just a singer from the tiny island of Jamaica, but to any person who has felt the true soul of his music they know that he was no musician, but a spiritual messenger through music. Bob Marley created many fans through his music but may have sparked a few enemies through his believes, his story tells the truth behind the prophet.
Robert Nesta Marley was born on February 6, 1945 from a poor 18-year-old black young woman named Ce della Booker and a white 50-year-old Captain Novel Marley. His father's military position provided financial support for the family but his constant absence for the British West Indian Regiment left Bob unattended during his early years. Bob's life in Jamaica was not at all of greatness. On the outskirts of Kingston, the small village of Trench town is where Bob sprouted his roots. Bob's curious and open mind led him to music at a young age; he quit school to learn all he could about music. His young spirit was like a seed yearning for the nutrients to grow into a fruitful plant.
When he heard musical influences from American radio stations he mind was set to become a future influence for generations to come (bob marley. com). Bob Marley's popularity had spread all though Jamaica. His music was always on the top of the charts and his lyrics were always on the top of Jamaican minds.
Bob's musical influence had seamed together with the political turmoil of the time, and his songs told a truthful account about everyday life living in an unsteady government. Bob Marley and his two best friends from the ghetto, Neville "Bunny" Livingston and Peter Tosh, had now become the most popular thing out of Jamaica. The Wailers had taken what every voice in Jamaica wanted to cry out over the political anarchy-taking place. The Wailer's impact on their Jamaican culture set ablaze their popularity across America and eventually the world. Once the Wailers became national celebrity's reporters constantly asked about their views on their homeland's political position. Bob and his band mates told them that only through peace would the fighting between the parties would end (pbs.
com). The beautiful island was torn between its own politics and the people were the victims. On February 10, 1966, Marley married Rita Anderson, and the next day they left to spend eight months in the United States with his mother and her new husband. In early 1967 he returned to Jamaica and became involved in the Rastafarian movement (rolling stone. com). By this time Marley's life seamed complete loving wife, prospering music career, worldwide fame, all this would satisfy most people but Bob didn't want all of the materialistic fame.
Bob was full of the fame that his musical popularity had gathered but empty of spirituality. "Unlike mere pop stars, Bob was a moral and religious figure as well as a major record seller internationally" (pbs. com). His soul was thirsty for divine understanding and acceptance of his culture.
Bob came across the Rastafarian religion just as many of Jamaicans did; the cult was spreading over the hills of Jamaica like wildfire into the distressed minds of the local citizens. Life in Jamaica was a different place at that time; different groups were forming to save themselves from the oppressions that overpowered them. Money was scarce and jobs were few; Bob helped in a welding shop to support some of the family's expensive. People's hopes diminished as generations saw their lives crumble under their country's weak economy. For all of Jamaica's life the island has gone through many diverse populations, leadership, and districts.
With the different direction the island had gone through over the centuries, the country's resources had almost diminished. From slavery to sugar cane the people of Jamaica have always attached on to a profitable business for the good of the nation. The people of Jamaica divided into two major parties after depression hit the island; the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) lead by Alexander Bustamante and the People's National Party (PNP) under Norman Manley. With only these two political figures on the island, Jamaica was a battleground fighting over authority. After the JLP gained Jamaica independence from British rule in 1962 life looked optimistic for a time, but with a weak alliance with America, Jamaica's morale soon became sour again (bob marley. com).
Ten years of steady un progressiveness was enough for the people and they had chosen a new leader to pilot them into a deeper depression. The PNP soon gained control and with new allies with other third world countries, Jamaica may have a chance after all. As PNP leader, Norman Manley obtained control; the country soon slid into a two-year recession, with the most recorded political violence in Jamaica. "Although Manley and the PNP government promised sweeping policy changes to reverse the lack of economic opportunities for Jamaica's lower classes, external economic shocks and Manley's own failed policies prevented the Prime Minister from delivering on his promises" (King 2). The PNP reign over Jamaica had its ups and downs; the international oil crisis of 1973-1974 left the economy a wreck and bauxite (base element in aluminum) production was down 25%. Not all was lost for Jamaica; Manley did lower the voting age to 18 and provided free secondary education for all Jamaican citizens (King 3).
The PNP produced many other economy-boosting programs to help Jamaica out of the hole and successfully did so. Manley's policies, in his own words, were designed to shift the 'power away from the wealthy apex towards the democratic base' (King 3). The prime minister wanted Jamaica to create a stronger connection between other third world countries as a way for his new "democratic socialism" (King 3) to align into place. According to Manley, "Democratic socialism promised independence from foreign control, greater access to social programs, and provide an alternative to Puerto Rico's capitalist model and Cuba's communist philosophy (King 3). Election running wasn't as sadistic in America as it was in Jamaica at that time. The 1976 election was classified as the county's bloodiest election; political officials motivated an estimated 100 deaths, by both sides of the ballot.
The desperate JLP party made many public acts of violence and assassinations: The Orange Street Massacre of May 1976 was among the worst incidents. In retaliation for a gang murder, a rival gang set fire to a block of tenement houses, killing eleven and leaving 500 homeless," Manley responded as, "violence in our society is the nation's greatest problem. It must be stamped out' (King 4). Manley's party strongly suggested that the CIA was affiliated with the JLP and helped the killings during the election, 'I have no doubt that the CIA was active in Jamaica that year and was working through its own agents to destabilize us' (King 4). Manley's outcries may prove less truthful than his lost promises to his nation.
The first week of December was a stressful one; the two parties were edge in edge in popularity and they needed an event to separate the issues. The PNP sponsored, Smile Jamaica, a concert to promote the People's National Party's promotional benefices and Bob accepted their invitation to perform at the concert. Some people saw this gesture as choosing sides, but reluctantly he still was scheduled to perform even if it might cause some friction amongst the people. On the evening of December 3, 1978 Bob was leaving his home with a small group of friends when a small, black van filled with darkly clothed men slowly rolled past his gates and opened fire. (White 64) The attack was a short as it was unsuspected; over thirty shots were fired, but nine found a target.
Marley had been grazed across his chest and in his arm; Rita, his wife had gotten a head wound, and his manager Don Taylor received six bullets in the groin and chest. This had been a horrific event but miraculously, no one was killed and Bob still performed at the event as planned (White 75). There were many angry people at the concert that night, as gangs of PNP groups and JLP came together for a small event. Most people would expect a political bloodbath but with Marley's hormonal talent easing the hostile crowd the mood became very sympathetic and peaceful. At the closing of the event, "Marley called Michael Manley and his political rival Edward Seaga to the stage.
With Manley on Marley's right and Seaga on Marley's left he had the two shake hands and then held up their hands with his, while rival street fighters held hands and danced, while everyone chanted 'for peace and justice,' as to say to the world look 'one love'" (McCullough 1). After this landmark performance Marley called Jamaica a 'rotten egg that could not be put back together again,' (McCullough 1) and took a year in hiding in London. The assassination attempt was a depressing milestone in Bob's life and scared him to hide in a secluded location for a year. But he had good reason to run; it was expected that the JLP wasn't the only one that didn't want Marley to perform at the concert that night, with associations going all the way to the CIA. "The assassination attempt sparked suspicion from some that it was anti-Castro Cubans and the CIA, because of Marley's close ties to the Prime Minister Manley. Others believed that he was shot at because of his participation in the concert and the belief he had become a communist" (McCullough 3).
Allegations like these may hold some truth believed the assassination attempt and could prove who really shot at Bob and who else helped pulled the trigger. The CIA would have more than enough reason to end Marley's life so it would not interfere with their Caribbean affairs. The CIA was keeping a close eye on the political actions taking place in Jamaica, to a point where they supply the JLP with funds and weapons to disable the PNP. The CIA had rumors of the PNP having close connections with Communist Cuba and made every attempt to cut those connections and anybody who was affiliated with them. Bob agreed to play for the PNP concert and the CIA attempted to kill Bob Marley to weaken the public support of the PNP (VH 1. com).
With a CIA enclosed document released in 1983 stating that the assassination attempt be politically motivated, all the fingers were pointed at the PNP. Moreover, the timing of the Smile Jamaica concert had clearly been planned to intensify its political detriment to the JLP. Lastly, the rumors described in the wire's last paragraph were obviously those being circulated through diplomatic channels by mouthpieces for the PNP and the JLP. The conclusion was inescapable: whether Bob performed, perished, or both, the PNP had set him up from the start as a political target. (White 56) The truth had been exhumed with evidence that led toward a motive, suspects, and possible treason amongst a nation. At this time the truth was hidden from the singer and his followers.
Bob's life tragically ended early at the young age of 36 in 1981. A severe toe infection was the cause during some amateur soccer with a top French team on his Exodus tour while in Paris. The singer could have the toe removed but would have conflicted with his strong religious believes, a skin graft was performed and all was thought to be well. Throughout the tour the infection became cancerous and later traveled toward his lungs, brain, and other vital organs. Once Marley collapsed on one of his morning jogs, he knew he didn't have much time left. One of the doctors that Marley went to prescribed that he should see Dr.
Josef Iss els, a seventy-two-year-old German doctor who may help Bob in ways that they couldn't. Several months of treatment proved wasted as Bob's condition seamed to get worse, "In a phone call to his attorney, David Steinberg, he made him promise that he would not rest until the publishing rights to all of Bob's songs were retrieved and turned over to his family. " Mad dah, don' cry,' he said afterward to Cindy as she stood at his bedside, clutching his hand, 'I'll be all right. I'm g wan ta prepare a place.' He died just before noon on May 11, 1981, only forty hours after he left Germany." (bob marley. com) The world may forget how a poor, lonely child made a song for what is right and gave the people an olive leaf when the were asking for a knife, but we may also remember a similar story of a man who created peace in the world with only his words to fight with, Christ. Works Cited web 2000.
King, Stephen A. "International Reggae, Democratic Socialism, and the Secularization of the Rastafarian Movement, 1972-1980." Popular Music and Society Fall 1998. McCullough, Courtney. "Bob Marley: Do You Have a Complete Picture?" web d ls / m 2822/3 22/59117064/p 6/article. j html? term = 20 November 1999. Ultimate Albums: Bob Marley Legend.
VH 1. 2002. web 2002. White, Timothy. Catch a Fire: The life of Bob Marley. New York: Holt, 1996..