He Preached Peace, Love, and Unity only to be Remembered by Marijuana: Bob Marley as a Person

a href=”http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/5b/15/b8/5b15b8fe95c89f09cf534486d623dfa9.jpg”> One of the many novelty Birthday cakes with a Bob Marley theme.

Posters of Bob Marley can be seen in many college dorm rooms across the world. In today’s youth he is a symbol for the recreational use of marijuana. Pop star, Miley Cyrus was given a Bob Marley cake for her birthday by her friends and stated, “You know you’re a stoner when your friends give you a Bob Marley cake.” Kevin McDonald directed the 2012 documentary “Marley”, which was so needed for today’s youth. The documentary gives an exclusive overview of the man who was Bob Marley.

Robert Nesta Marley was born in St Ann Jamaica in 1945. He was born to Black Jamaican native Cedella Booker and European-Jamaican Norval Marley. Being half Black and half White led him to feel like an outcast by both races because he was often discriminated against. Robert was born into a time where racial tensions were high and racial segregation was legal. There was a point in time when his paternal family rejected him as their own family member because he was Black and a Rastafarian. The way he felt about his upbringing and treatment by his society was reflected in some of his music.

This song was made after he was rejected by his White paternal family.

When he was introduced to Rastafarianism by friend Mortimer Planno, he started to feel a sense of belonging. Planno treated him as a person and did not discriminate against him because he was biracial. In the Rasta culture members smoke marijuana (ganja) as a source for meditation. Being in the state of high from the marijuana helped them to connect with Jah (God). In the documentary he is painted as a very spiritual man. Close witnesses of his life all testified that all the decisions he made were based off being aligned with Jah’s will. When he traveled to African countries and the youth would call out “Ganja” around him he would take the time to educate them about Rastafarianism.

In the documentary multiple people spoke about his timid and giving personality. In the film his wife and girlfriends all agreed that he was not a womanizer, but was quite shy and that some of them actually persued him. Everyone in the film saw him as a geniune person that did not back down. Evidence for that was shown when tear gas was thrown during the Zimbabwe Independence cooncert and he continued to perform. Marley’s guitar addition to the slower paced ska beat changed the sound of their music to sound like the reggae sound we know today. Reggae was the precursors for dancehall and reggaeton.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s there was a lot of political unrest globally. The role of his music was not only for dancing and nice melodies to listen to, but to unify people and nations. There was a lot of political unrest between two parties in Jamaica in the 1970’s. Leaders realized that he was a big influence on the people and leaders tried to gain his favor. Marley tried to stay out of politics but was tricked into doing a concert that could be interpreted as him supported one party, which led to him, Rita Marley and his manager getting shot a few days before the concert. After that he self-exiled himself from Jamaica. 1978 Jamaica begged him to come back to unify the two warring political party at the “Peace Concert” where the two leaders joined hands ending the political riff in the country. He was also used his musical talents to give the people of Zimbabwe a voice in politics of their country.

This documentary was biased. All the people in the film had a close relationship with him and would not say anything negative about him. Even when his wife and some of his girlfriends were asked if they thought he was selfish not committing to any of them and they all agreed that he was but they were okay with the situation. There was not anyone in the film who could talk about him objectively. The film painted a positive picture of Bob Marley.

I choose to blog about Bob Marley because I grew up listening to his music. My father is a Trinidadian immigrant and would play songs by Bob Marley and other reggae artists all the time. Growing up listening to song like “Redemption” and “Jamming” created nothing but positive thoughts about Bob Marley. It bothers me that all his work to unify people through his lyrics are under looked because he was known to smoke marijuana. For me Bob Marley will always be seen as a misunerstood peacemaker.

After watching this documentary I would like to further investigate his musical influence on his children. Most of his children have been involved in some aspect in the music industry. I also would like to learn more about the psychological effects Marley’s lifestyle had on his wife, girlfriends, and children. Seeing your father, father many children not by your own mother probably had a great impact on his children and I would like to know the negatives and the positives of that impact. In the documentary it discussed that Marley had a hard time crossing over to the Black audience in America. I would like to know why that was because today people from all races enjoy his music on first listen.

Robert Marley I salute you for always trying to give to others with all you had whether it was through music or material things!

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