“When I say One, you say Love…One…?” our tour guide enthusiastically addressed the group of tourists assembled around him.
Love! (the audience chanted softly)
Our tour guide looked offended.
“I don’t hear you…One…??”
Love!! (the audience was louder this time).
He was still not satisfied.
“I need to feel it…One…???
Love!!!!!! (the audience was really loud this time).
I have not seen a more passionate tour guide!
“And when I say Bob, you say Marley…Bob…?” he egged us on until we were hoarse shouting and having fun and singing together at the top of our voices.
It was a beautiful sunny day, gorgeous 80 degrees in downtown Kingston, Jamaica, and we were visiting the Bob Marley Museum. This is the house where the famous reggae musician Bob Marley lived until his death and even survived an assassination attempt. His wife Rita Marley turned it into a museum a few years after his death. The museum displays the legendary musician’s various awards.
Bob Marley is one of the world’s best selling artists of all time. He has sold more than 75 million records. His famous song “One Love” was named the song of the millennium by BBC in 2004.
The son of a white father and a black mother, Bob felt rejected by both communities and his short life was a fight to promote the universality of love and the common unifying thread across different races.
The museum displays various personal treasures, including a rare picture of his father – Captain Norval Marley a white man in the British army. His father was 60 when Bob was born! Bob’s mother Cedella was 18 when she got married. Bob didn’t see much of his father because he was always travelling – his father died when he was only 10.
He did not have an easy life.
The museum has a well equipped theater room where one can watch Bob Marley’s recordings and listen to his various interviews on what motivated him and his songs.
One of the rooms in the museum has all the pictures of his various world tours. Bob Marley was the hero of black freedom fighters. The lyrics of his famous songs such as "Buffalo Soldier" and “Get up, stand up – stand up for your rights” were motivational to freedom fighters around the world.
Bob wanted people to be free from the tyranny of white colonial rulers, especially those who had brought on the slave trade across the oceans. In 1980 he was invited to perform on the first Independence Day celebration of Zimbabwe. This event was attended by various leaders including Price Charles. Thousands of people gathered to attend his show but the crowds went completely out of control - the show had to be stopped for security reasons!
Bob Marley had a strong affinity to Africa and especially to Ethiopia. He believed that Haile Selassie the emperor of Ethiopia, coronated in 1930, was an incarnation of God. Bob was a true believer in the Rastafari religion that was started by Haile Selassie. He had his famous dreadlocks to prove his adherence to this religion.
But it was not just the dreadlocks, Bob believed so strongly in the Rastafari religion that when doctors diagnosed cancer in his toe and advised him to get his toe amputated, he flatly refused – saying Rastafaris do not amputate, they do not believe in dismantling a man!
Bob always wanted to go to Africa. When he finally did visit Africa in 1978, he discovered to his dismay that the man whom he worshipped as God was not well remembered by his own people and was buried in an unmarked grave. This must have disappointed him greatly.
Bob’s cancer spread and claimed his life within 2 years of getting diagnosed.
The King of Reggae died in 1981 at the young age of 36.