40 years ago Bob Marley died. His passing was met with an outpouring of grief. He touched the lives of many people, in Jamaica, in the Jamaican diaspora, and all over the world. His music had a great deal of significance. He used his music to describe his country`s history, culture and people but he also spoke about a wider struggle for racial justice internationally.
The songs had an unsettling undertone that perturbed the more conservative elements in Jamaican society. However he did not desire insurrection or revolution the primary sentiment was one of reconciliation.
Marley sang for freedom, love and peace whilst acknowledging oppression, racism and war. But in the fevered political atmosphere of the 1970s the message for “one love” seemed to remain unheeded, and it was frequently drowned out by violent subversives.
When Marley attempted to reach out into politics it almost cost him his life. In December 1976 he survived an assassination attempt. Some have suggested that the CIA were responsible, however this is just a rumour.
Marley died after a protracted battle with cancer. He was awarded a state funeral in Jamaica and today he is revered as one of the greatest Jamaicans. His courage and musical legacy continue to resound in our contemporary world. Activists continue to quote his lyrics, even British government advisors use his words to promote social harmony. He is one of the very few people in music to achieve the status of “legend” and this must never be forgotten.