Bob Marley: 'Rasta don’t work for no CIA'By David T. Rowlands
The Bob Marley songbook is bursting with eloquent social protest, exposing the poverty, oppression and injustice endured by inhabitants of the “developing” world.
“Burning and Looting”, for example: “This morning I woke up in a curfew. O my God I was a prisoner too … Could not recognise the faces standing over me, they were all dressed in uniforms of brutality.”
Or from “Slave Driver”: “Every time I hear the crack of a whip, my blood runs cold. I remember on the slave ship, how they brutalise the very souls. Today they say that we are free, only to be chained in poverty … slave driver catch a fire so you can get burn, now.”
This is a message as relevant today as it was when Marley died from cancer 30 years ago in 1981 at the age of 36.
“Check my life if I am in doubt,” advised Marley to any who doubted his authenticity.
The Jamaican roots reggae superstar of the 1970s was never motivated by fame or money, though Marley did acquire these things when reggae went global under his stewardship.
These materialistic trappings were regarded by Marley as the “tools of Babylon”, which he would use to raise consciousness and spread a revolutionary message.
As a “mixed-race” child of rural Jamaica and, later, the working-class Trenchtown district of Kingston, Marley experienced the inequities of the post-colonial system.
Selling records and filling concert halls was never a vehicle for the gratification of Marley’s ego. It was for the transformation of a conflict-ridden world divided between exploiters and exploited to a new order of peace, harmony and understanding — “one love”.
At times, Marley encountered temptation and sometimes strayed into the path of excess.
Yet, as Chris Salewicz’s definitive 2009 biography Bob Marley: The Untold Story shows, Marley remained uncorrupted by the music business.
Although Rastafarianism (like any religion) contains its fair share of irrational dogma, Marley’s emphasis was on “redemption” in the here and now by toppling “Babylon” (i.e. the racist imperialist system of oppression).
“If you know what life is worth, you will look for yours on earth,” sang Marley in “Get Up Stand Up”.
Like “liberation theology”, a strand of radical Christianity that made a welcome contribution to the anti-imperialist movement in Latin America, Rastafarianism is compatible (in many respects) with the secular struggle against capitalism.
Marley’s dissent made him a target for surveillance and harassment.
His militancy was too much for the US intelligence establishment, which regarded Marley and other Rastas, such as fellow Jamaican reggae musician Peter Tosh, as dangerous subversives.
“Rasta”, as Bob defiantly stated in “Rat Race”, “don’t work for no CIA”....
Full article: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/48516