Greetings in the name of the most high, Jah Rastafari, ever faithful, ever sure, Jah Rastafari.
Give thanks and praises, for Jah the most high has delivered the victory. Greetings on this day of joy and thanksgiving. Forevermore this day will be held sacred to all and sundry of the faith of Jah. Jah Rastafari!
I am a Christian. I am Rastafarian only in the ich bin eine sense of the word. But I proudly, gratefully use the name of Jah — which is merely another name for God, Yahweh, Allah, the Great Spirit, Mother Nature — to give thanks for the birth of one of the Creator’s most special gifts to the world: Bob Marley.
All around the world, people celebrate today because on Feb. 6, 1945, Marley was born. And when he grew to be a man, this creation of Jah gave the world important life lessons backed by the one-drop beat.
“Just can’t live that negative way…make way for the positive day!” – ‘Rastaman Vibrations’
“Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny.” – ‘Zimbabwe’
“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality.” – ‘Wake Up and Live’
“Get up, stand up, stand up for your right. Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.” – ‘Get Up, Stand Up’
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind…” – ‘Redemption Song’
“Open your eyes and look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” – ‘Exodus’
“Everything is gonna be all right.” – ‘No Woman No Cry’
The words are simple yet profound, and when backed by rolling reggae riddims, intricate harmonies, and masterfully constructed instrumentation, they gain even more meaning and power. Whether singing of seduction or praising God or using the metaphor of burning and looting or war, Robert Nesta Marley offered us bits of wisdom for living lives of peace, freedom, and integrity.
With help from Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston and the rest of the Wailers — and from scripture — Marley gave voice to those who suffer. Of course, he spoke first to and for his people: downtrodden Jamaican “sufferahs,” the poor souls living in the yards of Kingston and the maligned Rastas. In later years, he spoke out to and for the “captives” of colonized Africa. But it turns out his cries for justice and his calls for strength against cruel and unjust authorities were universal — they pierced the souls and lifted the hearts of all who thirst for freedom, peace, love, and self-determination.
And they still do. Marley music now is bigger internationally than it ever was. He is embraced by millions across the globe and is considered by many to be the artist of the 20th century and beyond. The man has been dead nearly 24 years; had cancer not taken him, Bob would be 60 years old today. His time on earth, sadly, was short. But weep not: The spirit of the natural mystic is alive and well. You can hear him breathe every time one of his songs fills the air.
Years ago, a then-young reggae superstar made this statement: “My music will go on forever. Maybe it’s a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts. My music will go on forever.”
He was no fool. True, only a quarter century has gone by since his physical death, but I suspect his music and message will outlive us all. So long as there is oppression and injustice, the music of Bob Marley will be there to provide comfort and inspiration to those in need.
So rejoice: Marley lives! Give thanks and praises to whatever or whomever you consider most high.