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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Bob Marley Museum - The Man, Legend & Legacy

Visited Bob Marley Museum in northern part of New Kingston.  Overpriced entrance fee at US$20, which is the level for World-class attractions like the Louvre or Great Wall.  Lots of stuff and murals relating to the great reggae star.  I also learned that Marley actually had a white-British father, which was why he did not look that dark.  Marley also used images of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in many of his concerts and albums, even after the latter's overthrow and murder by Marxists. I wonder if Marley had ever considered if the emperor was one key reason why Ethiopia had remained poor and backward for so long. 

Marley was a Rastafarian convert, and had frequently used the marijuana either to get high or to perform Rastafarian rituals.  A few shoots of the marijuana plant is grown in the small green plot in front of the museum.

Interestingly, Marley had 13 children: 3 were with his wife, Rita; 2 adopted from Rita's previous relationships; and the rest with 8 separate women.

Wikipedia also wrote about Marley's illness and death, which in some ways might have begun as a treatable illness but eventually led to death when it was untreated due to Marley's Rastafarian beliefs: In July 1977, Marley was found to have acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of malignant melanoma, in a football wound - according to widely held urban legend, inflicted by broadcaster and pundit Danny Baker - on his right big toe. Marley refused amputation, because of the Rastafari belief that the body must be "whole."

 

Marley may have seen medical doctors as samfai (tricksters, deceivers). True to this belief Marley went against all surgical possibilities and sought out other means that would not break his religious beliefs. He also refused to register a will, based on the Rastafari belief that writing a will is acknowledging death as inevitable, thus disregarding the everlasting (or everliving, as Rastas say) character of life.

 

The cancer then metastasized to Marley's brain, lungs, liver, and stomach. After playing two shows at Madison Square Garden as part of his fall 1980 Uprising Tour, he collapsed while jogging in NYC's Central Park. The remainder of the tour was subsequently cancelled.

 

Marley played his final concert at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1980. The live version of "Redemption Song" on Songs of Freedom was recorded at this show. Marley afterwards sought medical help from Munich specialist Josef Issels, who promoted a controversial type of cancer treatment, partly based on avoidance of certain foods, drinks and other substances (Marley was also already a vegetarian, mainly for religious reasons). However, by this time his illness had already progressed to the terminal stage.

 

Whatever it was, Marley was an amazing global cultural phenomena.  He was the first non-white global superstar in popular music.  Even today – 28 years after his death - he remains a much revered figure across much of the world, in particular, Caribbean and Africa.  During my travels, I have seen his images everywhere, often in the form of wall murals and posters.  Quite a few people I have met in Caribbean and Africa had told me Marley was their favourite star.

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