This Black History Month, it’s only right that we acknowledge and pay homage to one of Reggae’s legends, Robert Nesta Marley, known to the world as Bob Marley on his 73rd birthday.
Bob is no stranger to segregation, racial injustice and police brutality. He was born in Nine Miles, Saint Ann, Jamaica to his father Norval Marley, a Jamaican white British and his mother Cedella Booker, an afro- Jamaican teenager. Being mixed, Robert experienced a lot of negativity from friends and family members, especially from his father’s side. He faced a lot of rejection as a child. It’s amazing that circumstances such as his would lead to a pure soul that stood for love, social change and unity.
“I don’t have prejudice against myself. I’m not on the white man’s side, or the black man’s side. I’m on God’s side. The one who created me and cause me to come from black and white.” – Bob Marley
Marley began his career as a musician with the Wailers, a group he formed with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston in 1963. His purpose for doing music was to unite every one of all races and nations through his music and lyrics. No longer allowing himself to be the victim of his circumstances, he decided to own who he was and yearned to spread peace and love to everyone. He spoke heavily on how division and “differentness” were used as tools to separate people and needed to be eradicated, which led to his popular single “One Love.”
“He was able to do that. He was able to bring people together in that way. Half uptown, half downtown, half white, half black. It’s that marriage of everything. He just embodied it all in one person,” said Cindy Breakspeare, Miss Jamaica 1976 & mother to Damian Marley.
In 1976, Jamaica was experiencing a period of non- stop political violence. After an attempt was made on Marley’s life, he left for England where he lived in self- exile for two years. This led to the production of Exodus, which remained on the British charts for 56 straight weeks. Bob Marley was able to introduce reggae music to the western world for the first time, which established him as an international star.
After returning to Jamaica in 1978, Bob continued to release music. In 1979 he released Survival which was followed by a successful European tour.
In 1980, he was the only foreign artist to participate in the independence ceremony of Zimbabwe. After such great success, Marley began an American tour to reach blacks in the U.S. He accomplished so much among the people through his music. See below to check out a few more of his monumental tracks. Happy Birthday Bob!