What reggae teaches us

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  • Follow the leader: the works and words of Bob Marley were inspired by the teachings of Emperor Haile Selassie, of Ethiopia, and Marcus Mosiah Garvey

    Follow the leader: the works and words of Bob Marley were inspired by the teachings of Emperor Haile Selassie, of Ethiopia, and Marcus Mosiah Garvey


“Look to Africa, for there a King will be crowned.”

— Marcus Mosiah Garvey, prophesising the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born on August 17, 1887 in the rural parish of St Ann, in Jamaica. Was it a coincidence or was it by fate that this is the exact same parish in which Robert Nesta Marley was born almost 60 years later?

With the former being inspired by the latter, the world and specifically the world views of Africans — and those of African descent throughout the Diaspora — have been changed for ever. We live in an age of persons attempting to continue to rewrite local and world history in the face of overwhelming, scientific and historic evidence that dismisses those age-old lies.

Yet, the truth was told to us via musical prophecy some 40 years ago.

In the early 1970s, “word, sound and power” emanated from the shores of a Caribbean island awakening from 500 years of the evils of European colonialism and slavery.

The sound was reggae.

The faith was Rastafari.

Rastafari teachings spoke through reggae to the colonised children of Africa scattered around the globe.

Reggae artist Horace Andy taught us that eating “ital is vital”. Loosely translated, it spoke to the need to eat natural foods.

Some 40 years later, the world and medical professionals now actively promote and prescribe eating organic foods.

Reggae taught us about “each one, teach one” and working in unity. The world now preaches about co-operation and collaboration.

Reggae, as spoken by the late, great Peter Tosh, taught us: “No matter where you come from, as long as you are a black man, you are an African”.

Slowly but surely, this taught us to not be ashamed of our African heritage, as we are all one. The world now embraces us as African, African-American or Afro-Caribbean.

Reggae taught us to “Let your locks grow long in Babylon”. Society now accepts and promotes our black hair in its natural curly state.

Reggae, via the voice of Burning Spear’s lyrics “What about the Arawak Indians and the few black men who were around here before him?” taught us about the lies of Christopher Columbus.

The world now admits that African and indigenous persons populated the Americas millions of years before any Europeans arrived.

Reggae, through the legendary singer Judy Mowatt’s song Black Woman, taught us about being proud of our enriched, melanin skin despite the physical violence meted out by those in authority.

The world, after untold amounts of demonstration, seemingly now accepts that #BlackLivesMatter.

Reggae, through the late singer Hugh Mundell, taught us that “Africa must be free”. The world now admits that apartheid and colonialism were and remain evil.

Peter Tosh and others sang about the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Forty years later, countries such as Canada, Israel and Uruguay have fully legalised cannabis.

It is crystal clear that the words and teachings of Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley and others were indeed prophetic. Equally speaking, it is evident that the reggae — real authentic reggae — has been on the forefront of speaking to racial and social justice.

In 1999, at the turn of the millennium, Time Magazine stated the following about the message and music of Bob Marley: “Best Album: Exodus by Bob Marley & the Wailers (1977). Every song is a classic — from the messages of love to the anthems of revolution. But more than that, the album is a political and cultural nexus, drawing inspiration from the Third World and then giving voice to it the world over.”

Unfortunately, there will still be those who will attempt to dismiss the faith of Rastafari, which is the foundation and inspiration of reggae, as nothing more than a Caribbean fable.

To that, we simply say this: you cannot love the fruit and reject the root.

“Jah Lives”

— Bob Marley

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm

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Published Aug 31, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 31, 2018 at 8:01 am)

What reggae teaches us

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