Calls to nominate ‘reggae music legend’ Bob Marley as Jamaican national hero

JAMAICA: A Jamaican lawmaker is asking the country’s parliament to name reggae legend Bob Marley a national hero, an effort that comes amid growing nationalism in English-speaking Caribbean countries that are distancing themselves from their colonial past.

Lawmaker Lisa Hanna’s proposal would make the iconic singer a national hero, a title already held by seven Jamaicans, including black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey and the country’s first prime minister, Alexander Bustamante.

It comes months after Barbados bestowed a similar honor on pop singer Rihanna at a ceremony in November in which the island severed ties with the British monarchy and created a republic – a process that Jamaica also considering.

“Bob Marley deserves this recognition because he lived a very short life that transformed the thinking of people around the world,” Hanna said in an interview at her Kingston office.

It is not immediately clear when Parliament will vote on the measure. Hanna hopes it will be approved in time for the country’s 60th independence anniversary on August 6. Marley was born in 1945 in the rural parish of St Ann to a white English father and a black Jamaican mother.

At the age of 12, he moved to Trench Town in Kingston, where he and musicians Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh developed what would become a world-renowned reggae sound. Marley died in 1981 of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Marcia Griffiths, who has sung for years with Marley, notably on classic tracks such as No Woman, No Cry, also supports Hanna’s proposal.

“Bob is a legend and an icon who has done so much for the world,” she said in an interview.

“The power and strength of music can change the world, and that’s why God gave us a man like Bob.”

– BANGKOK POST

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