If he was still with us, Robert Nesta Marley would have been 70 years old today. And today, the world celebrates his life and achievements. In my hometown of Toronto, the mayor has officially proclaimed February 6th to be Bob Marley Day, as every mayor of Toronto has for the past 25 years:
There are Bob Marley birthday celebrations every year in Toronto (which I usually manage to attend), but it seems like there are a lot more going on this year than there usually are (probably because it’s his 70th birthday). In my opinion the best one will most likely be the one at Lee’s Palace on Saturday:
I’ve been to this event in previous years; House of David Gang is a solid band and Lee’s Palace is one of the better live music venues in the city. Definitely check it out if you get the chance. On this occasion, I’d like to share one of my favorite Bob Marley songs. The song is called “War” and it has always struck as one of his more lyrically potent songs. Years after I had first heard it, I learned from reading a Bob Marley biography that the lyrics were adapted from an English translation of a speech given to the United Nations in 1963 by His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I. An excerpt of the speech is below:
“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 color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color 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 and until the ignoble but unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique, and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and goodwill; until all Africans stand and speak as free human beings, equal in the eyes of the Almighty; until that day, the African continent shall not know peace. We Africans will fight if necessary and we know that we shall win as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.”
Rather than a studio version, I’ve posted a powerful live performance of the song. At it’s core, reggae has always been socially conscious and politically charged music. It’s something our world needs now more than ever.