Robert Nesta Marley - Singer & Song Writer - (1945 - 1981)
'Bob had a passionate affair with a local girl, but her older brother forbade the girl to carry on
the relationship because of Bob's white blood.'
Bob Marley, as he was known was born in St Ann's parish, Jamaica to Cedella Malcolm, a Black Jamaican and Norval
Marley, a White Jamaican. Bob's father did not play much of a part in his son's life. How he truly felt about his
son we may never know, he certainly did not seem to show any great interest in Bob.
Cedella strived to look after
her son in his early years but left much of his upbringing to an extended family.
As a half-white child in Jamaica, Bob was not easily accepted in the local community. He was often considered
to be white. This was a legacy from Colonialism whereby those with lighter skin were often more privileged than
their darker counterparts. The practice known as shadism is still thought to be very much the case today in both
Africa and the Caribbean.
Bob's white blood would cause him much pain in his early youth, especially compounded by the fact that his father
played no part in his life. He had been known to curse the white blood that ran through his veins. Growing up in
Trench Town, he would often feel alienated in the city. Considered a white boy, his complexion would often bring
out the worst in people: after all, why was this boy from 'country' living down in the ghetto and not uptown with
all the other light skin people?
Such daily bullying ultimately created the iron will and overpowering self-confidence in Bob. On one occasion,
Bob had a passionate affair with a local girl, but her older brother forbade the girl to carry on the relationship
because of Bob's white blood. His wife Rita Marley, commented, 'Bob had to put up with a lot of resistance in
Trench Town. If he hadn't so strong in himself, he wouldn't have become what he is today. He'd be down trodden and
seen as another half-caste who
could never make it.' His teacher, Clarice Bushay said, 'Bob was shy at school, he required constant reassurance.’
She felt she should moderate the amount of attention she gave him. 'Because he was light skin other children would
become jealous of him getting so much of my time.'
Despite his humble beginnings, Bob would grow up to be the most well known Reggae artist to date and is credited
with bringing Reggae music and the Rastafarian religion to the western world. During his lifetime, Bob Marley and
the Wailers released 11 albums in Britain and although he never attained number one here whilst he was alive, his
name and music is known throughout the world. There were those close to him that attributed Bob's success to his
having a white father and the sacrifices that Bob made in his teenage years for being half-white have never been
Despite the rejection of his white family and some members of the black community Bob did not harbour any negative
racial assumptions and deplored anything classed as otherness: apart from the human race. 'Unity is the world's key,
and racial harmony. Until the white man stop calling himself white and the black man stop calling himself black, we
will not see it. All the people on the earth are just one family, and so my music defends righteousness. If you’re
black and you're wrong, you're wrong; if you're white and you're wrong, you're wrong; if you're Indian and you're
wrong, you're wrong. It's universal.' Bob Marley.
Although Bob Marley died at the age of 36 from cancer, he left a tremendous legacy, which has not been attained by
any other recording artist. In 1999 the album Chant Down Babylon was released, which brought Bob back into the
limelight, as artists such as Erykah Badu, Busta Ryhmes, Lauren Hill, Chuck D and a host of others got together to
pay homage to one of the twentieth century’s most important artists.