What's My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals

By Grant Farred | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Bob Marley, Postcolonial Sufferer

Ethiopia, the tyrant's falling, Who smote thee upon thy knees, And thy children are lustily calling From over the distant seas.

—Burrell and Ford, “The Universal Ethiopian Anthem”


The Song Remains the Same

If Stuart Hall came to race through crisis and culture, Bob Marley understood, from his earliest days in their shared homeland, that race was culture. Race and culture were lived indistinguishably in the yards of Trenchtown, where Marley learned about music, history, politics, and religion, a part of Kingston unknown to Hall until he made acquaintance with his countryman's music in London. This was a metropolis where Marley himself spent a great deal of time practicing his craft, a locale from which, during his exile from Jamaica, he became an internationally recognized musician. Dreadlocked and speaking unapologetically in a uniquely black Jamaican patois, Bob Marley introduced the world to reggae, a completely new brand of music. Blended from the mix of traditional African rhythms and drumming techniques (the legacy of slavery), an exaggerated backbeat, black Caribbean musical innovation, and 1950s and 1960s black American soul, Marley's lyrics championed the right of poor people in the Third World. 1 He sang about freedom from economic exploitation, physical degradation, and moral debasement. Reggae's spiritual source was Rastafarianism, a little-known faith that was African in derivation with a small band of loyal adherents in the Caribbean. As a religion Rastafarianism was Coptic in that it held God to be at once both “divine and human.” 2 “Mighty God is a living man” is how Marley defined the unique divinity of his faith, one that held God

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What's My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Thinking in the Vernacular 1
  • Chapter 1 - Muhammad Ali, Third World Contender 27
  • Chapter 2 - C. L. R. James, Marginal Intellectual 95
  • Chapter 3 - Stuart Hall, the Scholarship Boy 149
  • Chapter 4 - Bob Marley, Postcolonial Sufferer 215
  • Notes 275
  • Permissions 297
  • Index 299
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