Reggae Sumfest 2018

Bob Marley: The legacy wanes but the cult lives on

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Dubdem Sound System :: Jamaican Tour 2006


KINGSTON, Jamaica (AFP) -- Bob Marley's musical legacy may be waning 30 years
after his death as Jamaica's youth prefers dancehall to reggae, but the singer
remains a cult, if highly commercialised, figure.
Marley has become a merchandiser's dream, with everything from shoes to
snowboards bearing his image, but his friends say it would be tragic if his
message of justice for the oppressed gets lost to corporate greed.
"He was never about commercialism," one friend, Herbie Miller, told AFP. "Money
was not his greatest motivation."
For loyal fans of the Third World's first pop superstar, who died from cancer at
the age of 36 on May 11 1981, this year's milestone anniversary is not about
grieving but about celebrating.
"His music was so full of life, it doesn't seem right to mourn him," 24-year-old
Bernadette Hellwanter of Vocklabruck, Austria told AFP as she toured the Bob
Marley Museum in the Jamaican capital Kingston.
Fans flock to the museum, an English-style building where Marley lived and wrote
many of his songs.
Tours are also conducted daily in the village of Nine Mile in the rural St Ann
parish where Marley was born in February 1945 and where a mausoleum now provides
his final resting place.
But despite all the T-shirts, the mugs and the many iconic images of the
pot-smoking, football-loving Rastafarian, there is a sense his star could be
beginning to fade.
The Marley Foundation, which oversees the singer's estate, says no events are
planned to mark the 30th anniversary of his death.
Music from the rebel who introduced reggae to an international audience gets
only token play nowadays on the local radio and his message appears lost on
today's Jamaican youth.
Feel-good songs like Three Little Birds and One Love are preferred to more
militant tracks such as Exodus or The Heathen.
In Trench Town, the Kingston ghetto that inspired some of Marley's most
memorable songs, there are few visitors to the tenement where he once lived
during the 1960s.
Artefacts include the shell of a Volkswagen van that Marley used to sell his
records and a bed he slept on.
Overseas, perhaps, there is more room for nostalgia.
Marley performed twice in his life in Belgium, but according to Brice DePasse, a
Belgian journalist with the Nostalgie television station, he left an indelible
mark.
"He's been big in Belgium since 1977 when he first performed there. There's not
a day that his music is not played," said DePasse.
To commemorate his death, Nostalgie will air the hour-long documentary In The
Footsteps of Bob Marley today.
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Reggae Sumfest 2018