By MURPHY BROWNE
‘Cause we’re moving right out of Babylon
And we’re going to our father’s land
How good and how pleasant it would be
Before God and man
To see the unification of all Africans
As it’s been said already let it be done
We are the children of the Rastaman
We are the children of the Higher Man
Africa, Unite ’cause the children wanna come home
Africa, Unite ’cause we’re moving right out of Babylon
And we’re grooving to our father’s land
Unite for the Africans abroad, unite for the Africans a yard
Excerpt from “Africa Unite” by Bob Marley and the Wailers released in 1979.
Africa Unite is Bob Marley’s Pan-African anthem. For those who want to remember Marley as merely the man who sang “One Love” the image of a Pan-Africanist Marley is hard to take as reality. Similar to the whitewashed image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., there is a movement to strip Marley of his Pan-African reality in spite of the many songs he wrote and sang that clearly shows the man’s philosophy. Listen to the lyrics of any of the songs from his “Survival” album and you will hear his protests against “Babylon System”.
Listening to the lyrics of Marley’s “Babylon System” you are left in no doubt that the man adhered to the philosophies of his fellow Jamaican and Pan-Africanist, the Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
“We refuse to be, what you wanted us to be. We are what we are. That’s the way it’s going to be (if you don’t know). You can’t educate I, for no equal opportunity. Talking ’bout my freedom, people freedom and liberty. Yeah, we’ve been trodding on the winepress. Much too long rebel, rebel. Babylon system is the vampire. Sucking the children day by day. Me say the Babylon system is the vampire Sucking the blood of the sufferers.”
The “Babylon System” to which Marley refers is the same system that racially profiles Africans in Canada, the USA, the UK etc., Those people who claim to love Marley’s music yet are part of the system that racially profiles our youth here in Toronto need to listen to Marley’s “Uprising,” “Survival” and “Confrontation” albums. The lyrics of Marley’s “War” where he uses the words of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I will certainly give them something to talk and think about. Part of His Majesty’s speech reads: “That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; That until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation; That until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.”
His Majesty made his speech to the United Nations in 1963 and the speech was published in 1972 in the book “Important Utterances of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I 1963-1972.”
Now, here are the lyrics of Marley’s song “War” from the album “Rastaman Vibrations” which was released in 1976: “Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; Everywhere is war, me say war. That until there’s no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation, until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes. Me say war. That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all, without regard to race. Dis a war. That until that day the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained. Now everywhere is war.”
Nesta Robert Marley was born on February 6, 1945 inSt AnnParish,Jamaicawhich is also the birthplace of Garvey. Marley transitioned on May 11, 1981 when he was 36 years old. During his relatively short lifespan Marley achieved superstar status internationally performing reggae music world wide. Marley also became an unofficial ambassador of the Rastafari faith. He inspired many Africans on the continent and the Diaspora to proudly wear their natural hair in locs. Even many of those who do not adhere to the Rastafari faith proudly sport their locs.
Some of Marley’s lyrics also educated about the history of Africans. Marley’s “Buffalo Soldiers” tells the story of enslaved Africans throughout the Americas. “Buffalo soldier, dreadlocked Rasta. There was a Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America. Stolen from Africa, brought to America. Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival. If you know your history then you would know where you’re coming from then you wouldn’t have to ask me who the heck do I think I am. Driven from the mainland to the heart of the Caribbean.”
Our ancestors were stolen from Africa, kidnapped and transported in the filthy holds of ships to work their entire lives enriching the White men and women who worked them to death in places likeArgentina,Brazil,Cuba,Chile,Guyana,Jamaica,PeruandSuriname. The wealth that the coerced, unpaid labour of those enslaved African ancestors generated for the White families is still being enjoyed by the descendants of those families in the 21st century.
Bob Marley would have celebrated his 69th birthday on February 6, 2014. His birthday is celebrated wherever his music is heard. For more than 20 years there has been a Bob Marley Day proclamation from City Hall beginning with former Mayor Art Eggleton.
Marley is one of our heroes who contributed to the cause ofAfricaand Africans worldwide and deserves to be remembered.