By Christopher Famous
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born on August 17, 1887, in the rural parish of St Ann’s Jamaica. Coincidentally, or was it by fate, that this is the exact same parish in which Robert Nesta Marley was born some 60 years later?
With Marcus Garvey being the ideological inspiration for Bob Marley, the world, specifically, the world views of Africans, and those of African descent throughout the Diaspora, has been changed forever through music.
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 colonized 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 cooperation and collaboration.
Reggae, as spoken by the late great Peter Tosh, taught us, “No matter where you come from, as long as you 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 about “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 man 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 an untold number of demonstrations, 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 was and remains evil.
Peter Tosh and others sang about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. 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