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Bob Marley: 30 Years after death, his legacy and legend still strong

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Bob Marley: 30 Years after his death, legacy and legend still strong.

By Winston “Stone” Ford

Special to USAfricaonline.com ,  CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal Houston, Texas. This commentary first appeared in TheRoot.com

On May 11, 1981, the reggae superstar died at age 36. Here’s why his musical legacy and personal legend are still holding strong around the world.
In our fast-paced world, a celebrity is created virtually every minute. But there are few musical celebrities with a legacy as enduring as that of Nesta Robert “Bob” Marley.Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of a true musical pioneer, a man whose impact transcended class, race and culture all over the world. The reggae legend inspired an almost spiritual following among a diverse set of believers, who expressed their devotion in iconography as varied as indigenous Australian shrines and posters on college-dorm-room walls.
But the question must be asked: Why do so many people connect with Marley? The answer is fairly simple: Marley was an everyman, a gentle soul and a revolutionary. Many have identified with his humble upbringing in the tiny island of Jamaica, the Pan-African beliefs stemming from his Rastafarian faith, and his advocacy of social justice.

 

When he penned politically charged songs like “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Get Up Stand Up,” they resonated as far more than mere recordings. They were calls to action.Many of Marley’s greatest and most recognizable hits came with the Wailers (including Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer), who grew up beside him in Trench Town, a Kingston ghetto that spawned many musical greats. Influenced by American music from the era, the band imbued their traditional Jamaican rhythms with the soul of Motown, creating a different take on black music.

Carried by the Caribbean migration to England, the sounds of the islands were reaching new continents. A chance meeting with Island Records head Chris Blackwell in 1972 allowed Marley and the Wailers access to the same high-tech recording equipment that rock bands were using at the time. Their Third World sound crossed over into the developed world.

Throughout the 1970s the musicians produced a slew of worldwide hits. Tracks such as “Exodus” and “One Love” made the charts in the U.S. as well as in the U.K. and other European countries.Ultimately, it was Marley’s penchant for social justice that made him an identifiable superstar. Although he was half white (born to a father of English descent), Marley always identified himself as Pan-African, and during the mid-1970s he dedicated a string of songs to the Diaspora: “Buffalo Soldier” to African Americans, “Africa Unite” to those in Zimbabwe and “War” to his brothers suffering through South Africa’s apartheid.He was not just outspoken politically; Marley was also not afraid to mix spirituality and song. For this strong believer in the Rastafarian movement and the divinity of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, religion was an integral part of his music and work ethic. The movement most recognizable to outsiders by its adherents’ long dreadlocks, spiritual use of marijuana and belief in Africa (Zion) as the birthplace of mankind has been adopted in the African continent, the United States and even Japan.

The influence of Marley’s faith can be seen on tracks such as 1974’s “Natty Dread” and “So Jah S’eh.”Marley’s involvement in Jamaica’s politics almost got him killed. In 1976 violent clashes between supporters of Jamaica’s two major political parties left hundreds dead, inspiring Marley to play the Smile Jamaica festival at the government’s invitation in order to help quell the ongoing bloodshed. Unfortunately, some saw the festival as a support rally for the People’s National Party leader, Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, and his endorsement of political violence against dissent.As tensions in the country grew high, gunmen entered the Marley home, shooting Marley; his wife, Rita; and his manager, Don Taylor, in the middle of the night. They all survived, and despite his injuries, Marley performed at the festival two days later, saying, “The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?”

 

After the concert, Marley and his band left Jamaica for more than a year, recording the international hit album Exodus while in the U.K. However, his commitment to his home country would see Marley return, organizing the One Love Peace concert in 1978.Another love of Marley’s life was Rita, a musician in her own right who often sang backup for the Wailers and recorded several albums of her own. The couple met in the mid-1960s through Peter Tosh, fell in love and married shortly afterward. Throughout Marley’s career, Rita was by his side, even through his repeated infidelities. She was his rock, especially in his later years as he battled health problems.In 1977 a routine toe injury during a soccer game in France refused to heal. Testing revealed he had melanoma, a type of skin cancer. In accordance with his Rastafarian beliefs, Marley refused to have the toe amputated, and the cancer began to spread throughout his body. Marley lived, recorded and performed for more than three years despite the severity of his disease. In 1980 he released his last album, Uprising, penning the iconic classic “Redemption Song,” a track in which he confronted his mortality. His final concert took place at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh on Sept. 23, 1980. After unsuccessful cancer treatment in Europe, Marley died a few months later, in 1981, at a Miami hospital at the age of 36.But Marley lives on.

The album Legend, released three years after his death, has gone platinum 10 times over and is still the greatest-selling reggae album of all time. Last year the Marley estate brought in more than $6 million, according to Forbes magazine.Marley’s influence was not limited to reggae. Eric Clapton owes one of his most famous hits to Marley and the Wailers — his version of “I Shot the Sheriff” reached No. 1 in the United States in 1974. And as hip-hop became a global force in worldwide music, Marley’s legacy inspired the world’s urban community. The Notorious B.I.G., Guru and the Fugees have reworked Marley classics over the years.And let’s not forget Marley’s living legacies. His talented children continue to record and perform worldwide. Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers — which also featured brother Stephen as well as their sisters Sharon and Cedella — were popular in the late 1980s and through much of the ’90s. Stephen released a groundbreaking album in 2009 called Mind Control and continues to tour regularly.

Last year (2010) youngest brother Damian Marley released his collaborative album, Distant Relatives, with rapper Nas, blending African rhythms, hip-hop and traditional reggae sounds.Three decades after Bob Marley’s death, you can turn on any radio or walk down any street, and you will likely hear a Marley song or see someone wearing a Marley T-shirt. His image will continue to resonate for years to come; let’s also hope his peace-loving ideals will be embraced during the next 30 years — and 30 years after that.                                         •Ford is the New York-based creator of the Couch Sessions and Triplestar Media Group. He is a music writer and promoter.

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Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa’s writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com http://usafricaonline.com/chido.achebebest.html

Tunisia, Egypt . . . Is Nigeria next? By Prof. Rosaire Ifedi

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See the October 17, 2001 special report/alert: Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu. http://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html

Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa’s writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com http://usafricaonline.com/chido.achebebest.html

USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine,  PhotoWorks.TV,  AchebeBooks.comNigeria360USAfricaTV and several blogs, assessed by The New York TImes as the largest and arguably most influential multimedia networks for Africans and Americans. News@USAfricaonline.com. wireless: 1-832-45-CHIDO (24436). Office: 713-270-5500.


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AFRICA

World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Nigeria’s LOOTERS LIST and Buhari’s selective corruption targets. By Majeed Dahiru

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PDP vs APC Looters List and Buhari’s selective corruption targets

By Majeed Dahiru

Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLive

 

Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain, who became a founding member and financier of APC, had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to appeal the N19.5 billion fraud case.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to Nigeria’s First and Second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, the PDP appointed former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from [Buhari’s Information Minister] Lai Mohammed’s list.

For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over $500 billion in sixteen years, it is confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively comprised of PDP looters but also captures the last two years of PDP’s last lap in power and included just Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, who supported him against candidate Buhari, while also relating only to funds used in the last electioneering campaign of the PDP.

Whenever the obviously abysmal performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention, and leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people away from the core issue of the failure of governance.

Like a fit of deja vu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed, a fellow who comes across as more of President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria in charge of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise. The list is all too familiar as the unveiling was a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly his appointees in government, who have been named and shamed several times in well-coordinated media trials.

First on Lai’s list is Uche Secondus, the chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Lai had this to say of Secondus: “On the 19th of February 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA”. An unidentified former financial secretary of the PDP was similarly accused of “taking” N600 million from the same office of the National Security Adviser. Lai Mohammed also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul, who deployed his media power to promote Goodluck Jonathan by de-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for “taking” N2.1 billion from the office of the then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh is on trial for “collecting” N1.4 billion from the same office of the NSA.

Lai Mohammed’s expanded follow up list included the usual suspects – former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of close to $2.1 billion through the office of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

The choice of words like “took” and “collected” deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for the maximum effect of propaganda, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at something akin to a gun point.

While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Goodluck Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari’s campaign with their share of loot have been forgiven. For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursement of funds that were used to oil Goodluck Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and in defiance of several judicial rulings. Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of an accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by the resort to the naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name. Rather some names were either missing or omitted from what is a familiar list. This appears so because the bulk of PDP bigwigs who “destroyed” Nigeria in sixteen years of national rule are firmly in control of the APC, from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council. The majority of APC-elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members to APC, such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who have been prominently named and shamed in the recent past, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to the first and second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from Lai’s list. Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya.

Arguably one of Africa’s richest women, with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in the past two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Goodluck Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been accused, in numerous instances, allegedly, of acting as Patience Jonathan’s front for the laundering of illicit money estimated at over N13 billion, while engaging in other fraudulent activities involved in state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare to Damilola, the daughter of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.

In a clear display of the arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organisations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President [Buhari] in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort.

The tone of generalisation of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria, as an indicator of corruption, should make all members of PDP (both former and present) and their collaborators in other parties guilty, hence qualifying them for naming and shaming, while being liable for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is devoid of integrity, because his selective war on corruption is indicative of corruption in itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptised into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current APC looters continue to loot Nigeria, while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation under the abundant grace of the infallible Buhari.

• Dahiru is based in Abuja 

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