30 years ago the world lost a legend, the King of Reggae, Bob Marley. Here CTV's Sandie Rinaldo interviews Marley in 1978, three years before his death. Jamaican president Michael Manley offers his own insight into the political force of reggae, the "people's language".
*A couple of years ago, no one would've believed that this raggle-taggle tribe of Jamaican musicians would be packing Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. It's a sign of reggae's growing acceptance in the international pop-music scene, and it's also catapulted this man, Bob Marley, to superstardom. But reggae is not just a pop phenomenon, it's developed into a powerful force for political change--as powerful in its own way as the protest music of the sixties.*//The interviewer, Sandie Rinaldo, gives some background information first...//*This past April in Kingston, it created a truce in a country torn by political violence. Ghetto youth tired of the constant political fighting banded together in a mammoth reggae concert for peace. It ended with Prime Minister Michael Manley and opposition leader Edward Seaga on stage, shaking hands in an appeal for peace. The man responsible for it all they say, was, Bob Marley.* SR: Bob, you've been labeled a powerful political individual. How do you regard that?BM: Well, I mean, yeah, we was like, we try for make really bring peace knowing that we really can't solve a problem with a war, you know? To really solve a problem me no feel like really killing someone. Whose problem am I going to solve when I kill someone, you know what I mean? So I figured the Peace is the best thing, and that's why I go ahead and work with it, because it was a spiritual thing, what happened.SR: But isn't what you need some sort of social-legislative change? The economic conditions are bad--you have a lot of people who are unemployed--BM: What really going to happen now is that we don't really want the island the change. We want the World to change...*And his music is how he gets his message across...Reggae is fast becoming Jamaica's main export, and the Rastafarians are playing it best. But these days in Jamaica, it is hard to know just who is a Rastafarian. The religion evolved from traditional Christianity, to see Heaven in "here and now" terms. Salvation is of free Africa. The late Haile Selassie is a savior. And because the religion condones the use of marijuana, it has popular appeal, so many young Jamaicans are now wearing their hair in the "natty" dreadlock style.*SR: Rastafarianism is very popular in Jamaica, yet in Canada and the United States it has a bad reputation--people are associated with drugs, and the trafficking of marijuana, and violence, police arrests--BM: Yeah man, them crucify Christ, remember? Christ was a Christian and them crucify Christ...say him is not what him is--SR: No, but let's go back to the facts--people have been arrested, and the Rastafarians in Toronto, for example, have a very bad reputation--BM: But I mean, we're not, I mean, you know, I wouldn't say the Rastafarians have a bad reputation...I would say people give the Rastafarians bad reputation, because the Rastafarians...I mean, you know what I mean...all of these things happening before the Rastafarians even start coming to Canada or anywhere around here.SR: But--but the things that are very obvious are the things like the way you look, right? To most people who are very conservative in dress, you look quite strange! Plus the fact that you advocate smoking marijuana--BM: Yeah, dig this, me a show you this now...Could they tell God that it's not legal?SR: No, but you're--BM: They couldn't tell God that it's not legal!--SR: You have--you have have a very strong religious belief, but other people don't necessarily share that, and what they see are the obvious things. And isn't it in fact true that many Jamaican people get involved in the trafficking of marijuana and therefore get the bad reputation associated with Rastafarianism?!BM: People get trafficking...you see, well really I don't really know anything about those parts of life, you know, all I know is Rastafari, you know, and try bringing this truth to the people. What the people do with them life I don't really know about that, I know about my own.SR: OK. What is your own? What's your music to you?--BM: My own is--the music to me? The music is more than music to me. It go further than music, you know? It go with...I don't know...it further than music.SR: But you used it as a--a strong message...I mean...words like "a hungry man is an angry man!"--BM: Music use me--Maybe music use me!*Whatever it is, there's no doubt Bob Marley knows how to use his music. Twelve thousand people--more than half of them white, came to hear him perform, and in a trancelike mystical state he carried them with him, and left them shouting for more. Despite this obvious commercial success, he appears to live the life he preaches.*SR: What do you--what do you do with the money that you make? Do you take it back to Jamaica? Do you give it to the people?BM: Me give it away.SR: You give all your money away?!BM: All of it, I mean!SR: How do you survive?BM: Oh, Rastafari is God.SR: How do you feel the people of Jamaica see you as a musician?BM: See me? The people of Jamaica no have to see me... We show the people of Jamaica, Rastafari.SR: No, No, No--Do they like you?BM: If the people like me?...Yeah, the people love I. The People Love I--the People make I.*And if this audience is any indication, he'll have made it in Canada too. Sandie Rinaldo for Canada AM.*// Transcript by Ken (atnake) // July 2007 //
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