This Friday would have marked the 70th birthday of Bob Marley. Marley has always been an inspiration to me; the influence his music and lyrics have over people is moving. Bob Marley and The Wailers helped promote reggae music educating the world about life in Jamaica. The passion he expressed in everything he did cannot be faulted. I wanted to take some time to discuss the amazing life he led touching the hearts of everyone around him.

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Bob Marley grew up in Jamaica at a time of poverty and unemployment. There were class and race conflicts, increased crime and violence, and riots directed at immigrants. Marley had a white father and a black mother; Rita, his wife, later describes Bob having a need of acceptance which led him to becoming a committed Rastafarian.

The band formed in 1963 getting their first hit in the Jamaican single charts with Simmer Down in 1964. They later met Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records who offered the Wailers their first major record contract. They soon became a worldwide name and hit Number One in the Billboard Charts with I Shot the Sheriff in 1974.

wailMarley’s music, I believe, helps people understand his struggle for the peace we still fight for today. In 1976 Marley agreed to a free concert called Smile Jamaica in Kingston as an attempt to heal political violence. What’s even more inspiring is that two days earlier Marley had been shot along with his wife during an assassination attempt, yet he still played the concert.

His passion for peace was clear as he chose to follow neither of the political parties. In 1978, the One Love Peace Concert was held in Kingston. As an attempt to create peace, Marley joined the hands of Michael Manley (PNP) and Edward Seaga (JLP), two opposing political parties, creating an iconic moment in history. The United Nations soon awarded Marley with the Third World Peace Medal in New York.

Manley and Seaga

Marley was passionate about a lot of things including football. He was a modest man rarely giving interviews and was once quoted suggesting the only way to get to know him was to play football against him. It was from an injury to his toe from football where a cancerous sore was found.

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In 1980, Marley was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He bravely carried on as much of his worldwide tour as he could before going to hospital and being told the cancer had spread all over his body. Marley later died in Miami in 1981.

The mark Marley left on the world is still seen today. In 1999, Time Magazine gave the album ‘Exodus’ the Best Album of the Century and in 2001 he was given the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. The Wailers brought reggae forward into the world of music influencing bands today. Although he wasn’t a man of many words, his quotes are still seen and used to inspire people to stand up for what they believe in.

Life can be extremely stressful at times but I find his music always helps me relax. His attitude towards peace encourages me to be a better person and wish the world could be as one. In 2012, the film Marley was made documenting his life through real footage and interviews with his family and friends. It is an incredible story worth watching. I will leave you with a quote used at the end of the film:

“I don’t really have any ambition, you know? I only have one thing I’d really like to see happen. I’d like to see mankind living together. Black, White, Chinese, everyone. That’s all.”

By Britt King

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