Rebel who inspired the world

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!” — Bob Marley

He was no rebel without a cause. His words continue to inspire till today. His songs, though written at a time when impoverishment and corruption reigned strong, have stood the test of time.

Bob Marley prophesised freedom of thought. And those who truly know his words found their soul.

And embarking where Marley once lived and wrote songs must give goosebumps to anyone, let alone an Indian journalist travelling to the Caribbean for cricket. In Jamaica, Marley is remembered in many ways — Reggae legend, Rastafarian, unifying force, preacher of ‘One Love’ and friend of the poor. But as the nation remembered him on International Reggae Day, the rebel inside Marley tops other memory.

“My music will go on forever. Maybe it’s a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts. My music will go on forever.” — Bob Marley

His immortal words, ‘get up, stand up: stand up for your rights’, still inspires those trying to battle life’s endless struggles. Born a ‘half-caste’ to a British father and Jamaican mother, Marley once ignored an assassination threat for the sake of ticket-holding fans. Tells you just why he’s such an inspiration.

A visit to the Bob Marley museum on 56 Hope Road is a pilgrimage. A $20 guided tour through the two-storied house that lasts an hour, including a small documentary, casts light on his journey and the awards he won. The guides on the tour suddenly break into a song and ask visitors to sing along.

But his music wasn’t just about songs. “Bob was on a mission to spread his message. And music was the best medium through which he could do it,” Colin Leslie, the accountant of Marley’s Tuff Gong international studios.

“Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.” — Bob marley

As a manager of his first company, Leslie had seen Marley from the days he had just started attaining fame. “He was meticulous and a perfectionist when it came to his music. His percussionists would be tired after long rehearsals but Bob wouldn’t give up till he perfected the tune,” said Leslie, 61.

There goes a story of a mango tree in Marley’s house under which he used to smoke ganja and play on his bongo. It incensed his neighbours but Marley decided to poke fun at them by composing ‘I wanna disturb my neighbours’.

The greatest urban legend however is the story of how Marley might have got a lesion due to an injury in a football game in 1977 that ultimately led to cancer and his death. Having amputated his toe could have saved him but he refused, citing religious beliefs.

Leslie however feels that his sudden death only propelled Marley’s fame. “I hear there are temples in Nepal where Bob is worshipped.”


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usman hashmi

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