Bob Marley: The legacy wanes but the cult lives on | Pakistan Today

Bob Marley: The legacy wanes but the cult lives on

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 commercialized, 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. “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. Nickia Palmer stopped briefly to peer at a photo of the dreadlocked legend playing his trademark Gibson guitar. 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 rural Saint 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, soccer-mad 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.”
According to Miller, the ubiquitous “One Love” has reduced Marley’s revolutionary message to a catchphrase for Jamaica’s tourist industry. “This is a man who took a bullet for his country. The powers that be in Jamaica are trying to make him soft,” he said. In Trench Town, the ghetto neighboring Kingston 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. To commemorate his death, Nostalgie will air the hour-long documentary “In The Footsteps of Bob Marley” on May 11.



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