Monday, February 06, 2006

Article forwarded to you from The Monitor

Is Bob Marley the black Man’s prophet?

The reggae legend would have been 61-years-old today. Timothy Kalyegira looks at the man who promoted reggae music with a message of African unity and the beginnings of his Rastafarian “One Love” religion This year's anniversary of Bob Marley's birthday is all the more poignant because it is also the year of the 25th anniversary of his death, on May 11, 1981. If Bob Marley was very popular in life, in death he was transformed into a virtual prophet of the Black cause and an idol forever. He is to reggae what the late Tupac Shakur is to rap. His warm, nasal vocals are among the most recognisable in pop music. In 1998, Time magazine voted The Wailers' 1977 album Exodus as the Album of the Century and in 1999 a BBC World Service radio survey of its presenters listed Exodus as one of the top 20 best albums of all-time. The African continent and the Black world that Bob Marley left behind is still very much a suffering, prostrate society - oftentimes, oppression brought on by Africans themselves to their fellow Black men. For many millions of Black people, it still a painful truth that they are probably safer and their lives have better prospects living in White people's nations than in their own lands. Since Bob Marley's death in May 1981, Africa has gone through the kinds of crises that have brought into question our viability as a people. The Rwandan genocide, the Dafur crisis, northern Uganda, the Liberia and Sierra Leone bloodbaths and the disintegration of Somalia have all had a profound effect on Africa. In the Caribbean, the world's oldest Black republic Haiti echoed the chaos in Liberia and Jamaica remained steeped in poverty and squalor. The Ethiopia to which Rastafarians turn their face with respect and a sense of identity is on the brink of all-out chaos in 2006 and has been for several years now. Africa's share in world trade volume has gone down from three percent in 1981, to two percent in 2006. The question to all this is, why? Somewhere in the heart of Reggae lies an intersection of two worlds - the spirit of Nyabinghi, the legendary Amazon queen who it is believed took possession of a Ugandan woman named Muhumusa in the 19th century, and the Abrahamic Christian faith of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The marriage of traditional African beliefs and Christianity is our starting point. Next week, we shall try to understand what is taking place in Africa in terms of world events and Biblical prophesies. Bob Marley and his band the Wailers proclaimed a message aimed at lifting the spirits and hope of the Black man. The limit to their music was its failure to tackle the hard realities of geopolitical forces at work. It underestimated the level of disorganisation in Africa and the fact that other previously marginal world centres like East Asia and parts of the Arab world would rise, leaving the Black World further to the margin. While it is critically important that the Black man finds in himself some pride and self-belief, the crisis and hurdles that face Africa and the Black Caribbean nations is more than what can be undone by newly discovered "maximum respect" and "One love." Some of the most self-aware Black people in the world can be found in Jamaica, Ethiopia, and Cuba, but their conditions and prospects are still a cause for concern. What does the Bible say about Africa's future, as the contest for world domination between the West, Islam and the Arab world, and such powers as China and India continues to grow? This will be examined next week. Click here to visit The Monitor website:

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