Reggae singer Bob Marley from the ghetto’s of Jamaica’s capital Kingston, was the first Third world artist that became known world-wide. The Western hippie movement received Bob Marley, and many other Rasta singers, with open arms. Most of the reggae songs were about peace & love. Many Jamaican artists tried to legalize cannabis with their songs.
Of course they didn’t only sing about it, many of these artists did use cannabis themselves. Some reggae artist had no objection with smoking weed even between the performance, once in a while they came back on stage totally high.
Reggae music, most of the time it had something to do with the Rasta religion and the use of cannabis… Reggae, Rasta and marijuana, everything together, is the first thought of most people when you say Jamaica.
The religion of the Rastas is original from Africa. Mostly it’s associated with the poor black population of Jamaica. Actual it is not really a religion, but a lifestyle.
In the Rasta culture weed was used a lot to hit in higher atmospheres, they thought it had to be legally available. It is named ganja or herb, a joint is called a spliff. The Rastas believe with the use of herb they can come closer to Jah (God). Because of the herb they get advices and inspiration. Many artists say that they write their best songs under influence of herb. All Rastas say that Jah is the inspiration for their music, and that He will always lead them the right way.
The basis of the religion is, that Haile Selassie is the living God for the black race. Selassie, who’s previous name was Rasta Fari( which means lion head), wasn’t a Rasta but a Christian. When was reported that Haile Selassie died, the Rastas didn’t want to believe this, and thought that it was a trick of the media to damage their religion.
The Rasta name for God is “Jah”. Haile Selassie, the dominator, was also called ‘Lion of Judah’. It points to the fact that the lion is the king of the kings. Selassie carried a ring with “the Lion of Judah”, this ring was transferred after his death to Bob Marley. Rastas named the white political authority, that already oppressed the black race for centuries, “Babylon”.
Africa, particularly Ethiopia, is considered as heaven on earth for the Rastas. There doesn’t exists hell or live after dead. Rastas believe that Jah will give the signal and will help the black men to go to their home country Ethiopia.
One of the most famous symbols of the Rastafari are their colours:
GREEN: This colour stands for the beauty and versatility of Ethiopia Represents.
YELLOW: Actually gold; The gold stands for the wealth of the home country. The dreadlocks have also been symbolized for the Rastas. They are strongly in contrast with the blond, light look of the white man. This hair style is also represented in the Bible: Leviticus 21:5 ‘’They shall not make baldness up on their head, neither shall they shave of the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh.’’
RED: This colour is for “The Church Triumphant”, the church of the rastas.
It also stands for the blood that the soldiers have lost in the past.
Robert Nesta Marley, also known as, Bob Marley, is born on February 6th 1945, in a small town named Nine Mile. He was Cedella Malcolm’s (17) and Norval Marley’s (50) son. Norval left them really fast, and had less of contact with them. In 1957, when Nesta was 12 years old, he and his mother moved to Kingston because Cedella didn’t earn enough money on the countryside in Nine Miles. They went to a ghetto in Trench town, that’s where Nesta met Bunny Livingstone, they became really good friends. In Trench town Nesta got the nickname ‘Tuff Gong’, and often he was called Bob.
When Bob Marley was 16 years old, he recorded, together with his friends Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh (later The Wailers), his first song “Judge Not”. In 1962 they made their second song “On Cup Of Coffee”. In the beginning they had no success, but slowly they got more and more popular. After a couple of changes in the band, Bob was brought more on the foreground, and the name of the group became “Bob Marley and The Wailers”.
Their next single “Simmer Down” was a huge success in Jamaica. On February 10th 1966, Bob married his girlfriend, Rita Anderson. In the seventies Bob Marley and The Wailers brought out their first reggae-LP “Catch a Fire” and this one was a big success.
In December 1976 The Wailers were going to give a benefit concert (smile Jamaica), but before it was given Bob got imminent letters. The letter said that if he would perform he would be punished with death… During the repetitions it happened, Rita got a bullet and Don Taylor (Wailers’ promoter) caught 5 bullets, Bob himself was also hit by a few bullets 1 bullet went straight through his ribs. Bob knew who had done it, but didn’t report it by the police because he thought it wouldn’t make any sense. Everybody survived this incident.
At the “On love Peace Concert”, in honour of the armistice of the two political groups in Jamaica, Bob Marley did the impossible. At the end of the show he asked both of the political leaders to come on stage. Once on the stage, he wanted the enemies to shake hands. While they where on stage there was played ‘One love’.
Another event, which was very important for the Rastas, was in 1977 when Bob got handed over the ring that used to be property of Haile Selassie (who died in 1975). Marley had problems with his big toe, which was serious injured during playing football. He refused to amputate the toe because that is against the rules of his religion:
Leviticus 21:5 “They shall not make baldness up on their head, neither shall they shave of the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh.”
In 1980 he poured in during the jogging, and the shocking news followed: he had a brain tumour and he had less then a month more to live. How ever he wanted to continue his travels and concerts, but his woman Rita held him back. She cancelled the tour. Bob went to Germany for treatment, where also determined lung cancer and stomach cancer. He knew what was going to happen, so he decided to go back to Jamaica. Too bad, he never came any further then Miami, that’s where he passed away on May 11th 1981.
Because of his great music, that came right from his heart, his positive message and way of life, he became for many (especially young black Jamaican people) a role model. Some Rastas even believe that not Haile Selassie, but Bob Marley himself Jah is