Bob Marley: One Love, One Vision, One Man

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Bob Marley: One Love, One Vision, One Man


Karin Manson-Mayhams

Professor Kamal

Manhattanville College

May 4, 2013



Pages 2-3


  • Who is Bob Marley?

Pages 3-6


  • The legacy

Pages 6-8

Comparison with Cleopatra

Pages 8-9

Comparison with Antigone

Pages 9-11


  • Importance of the applied leadership skills

Pages 11-12


Page 13

Table of Contents


Bob Marley is known to the Jamaican Rastafarian who popularized reggae. However, there is much more to examine about his life and his music. There are a variety of misconceptions about him and Rastafarianism. Many people often confuse him to be associated with the rude boy gang that was dominant in the Trench Town area where he lived. However, we learn in the following articles that he was not gang affiliated but he was influenced by them because they co-existed in the same area. Rastafarians are also, misunderstood for their radical beliefs as a cult. Mikal Gilmore writes about Bob Marley and his music in his article “The Life and Times of Bob Marley: How He Changed the World” which was published in the Rolling Stone magazine. He proves incite from various sources some of which include Marley’s mother (Cedella Marley) and wife (Rita Marley).Gilmore, goes more into depth about Marley’s personal being unbiased to the truth. In the article, “Could You Be Loved? Bob Marley, anti-politics and universal sufferation” by Paul Gilroy, the legacy and influence of Bob Marley’s music is depicted. He discusses the events in Marley life which become relevant in his music and argues that his music is made to reflect the terrible past of his African ancestors. Michelle A. Stephens provides in her article, “Babylon’s ‘Natural Mystic’: The North American Music Industry, the Legend of Bob Marley, and the Incorporation of Transnationalism,” another view on how Bob Marley has impacted the world with his music and life choices. Her argument relies on the facts of Bob Marley’s Rastafarian beliefs and the messages behind his music. Like Gilmore and Gilroy, she provides brief information on his personal life. It is through these articles that one can understand who is Bob Marley and why it necessary to study his leadership. John Rockwell analyzes the influence of Marley and his music giving a visual of his impact in his article which found on the New York Time’s website. Meanwhile, Rita Marley writes about her life with her husband in her book, No Woman No Cry: My life with Bob Marley. In the book’s prologue she reminisces on her last moments with her husband, concluding that he has forever left his mark in the world. Displaying his leadership qualities through his musical career, he shares successful strategies with two known leaders Cleopatra of Egypt and Antigone from the Greek Theban play. The case study Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt discusses how Cleopatra becomes the God Queen (also known as Pharaoh) at the age of 18 years old. She inherited the throne alongside her brother, Ptolemy XIII. However, she ruled from 51 B.C.E until her death in 30 B.C.E. She brought some time before her downfall by getting herself involved in Roman politics. She did so with the help of two her of lovers who happened to be a few of the world’s most influential leaders at her time. Unfortunately, Egypt still fell into the hands of Rome. However, Cleopatra is shown to be an audacious and innovative leader because she was able to use charm and wit to gain the support of two men sent to destroy her. Meanwhile, in the case study, Antigone: A woman who challenges authority, Antigone, a character from one of Sophocles’ famous set of three Theban plays, provides another essential aspect of leadership. In the play, she conflicted with the rights of family which are just over those of community which are lawful. Her actions are justified because it is important that a leader hold true to their beliefs which may be against the majority belief. It is in her willingness to be a martyr that she becomes a leader. It is essential that one understands that the influence of Bob Marley and his music which reflects his unofficial leadership which is still relevant in today’s society.


Who is Bob Marley?:

Robert Nesta Marley, also famously as Bob Marley, was born in early 1945 to the mixed race couple Capt. Noval Marley and Cedella Marley. Although, his birthday on his passport is listed as April 6th, no one truly knows when he was born because it took his mother some time to register him at the registrar. In his article, Paul Gilroy claims that his birth date is “February 6, 1945.” His father was a white man who was a superintendent of the lands for the British government. He met Cedella, at the small rural Jamaican village called Nine Miles, seducing her when she was only seventeen. Soon after he impregnated her, they got married and he left in fear of disinheritance. In Jamaican, situations like this were common; however, mixed-race children were looked down upon. Mikhal Gilmore states in his article, “Though he became increasingly devoted in his life to the cause of speaking to the black diaspora –that population throughout the world that had been scattered or colonized as the result of the slave trade and imperialism- he never expressed hatred for white people but rather hatred for one people’s undeserved power to subjugate another people.” However, it was not to long before Bob and his mother moved to Kingston in the 1950s. It was there in the yard known as Trench Town that Bob Marley found what would give his life purpose. Gilmore states, “Marley found ruthless honesty, courage, and rough beauty in the tenement- yard community, and he didn’t necessarily went to transcend or escape it- instead he want to describe its reality and to speak for its populace, which was subject to not only destitution but easy condemnation as well.” That was his vision and his objective was clear. Against his mother’s wishes, Bob was determined to spread his message throughout the world. As a mother, she sought to protect him from the disliked “Rude Boys” gang which heavily occupied Trench Town. However, Marley was influenced by his environment and was even referred to as “Tuff Gong.” He had a purpose and no one could steer from that. The history channel website states that he “dropped out of school at the age 14 to make music. Jamaica at the time was entering a period of incredible musical creativity.” He began his musical adventure in 1963 with some his local friends. Gilroy writes that “he offers a new theory and practice of revolutionary agency that accentuates the political will and responsibility of individuals once they had been exposed to truth and stripped of the illusions that support the injustices of the present in which we go hungry while their bullies full. Truth and right are inseparable. Illusions must be burned.” Around 1966, Bob and Rita got married. It had not been too long ago that, Marley’s mother got tired of the life in Kingston and moved to Delaware located in the United States. Marley had been living in back of Studio One where he recorded. Rita Anderson had been apart a female trio group called the “Soulettes.” They used to record at same studio and it was not long before her and Marley got together. Gilmore writes that “she felt the need to protect him.” Keeping a promise he had to his mother, Marley went to Delaware, shortly after their wedding leaving his wife and place he knew as home. During his time away, Rita had taken a liking to Rastafarianism. During the visit of Haile Selassie, who was known to be the living god for the Rastafarians, Rita claims that she saw the mark in his palm which signified that he was the God came to earth. However, it was not until Marley came back that he realized the drastic life style change in his wife. It was long before he too became exemplify Rastafarianism. Rastafarianism came up as a cult in Jamaican during the 1930s. It was originally written as Ras Tafari and was named after, the young man who fulfilled a prophecy that activist, Marcus Garvey supposedly proclaimed. “It continued to develop as mystical Judeo-Christian faith with a vision of Africa, in particular, Ethiopia, as true Zion,” Gilmore states. Rastafarians also believe that marijuana, famously known as Ganja, is a sacramental herb that allows one to be in a deeper knowledge with oneself and that the corrupt society fell they would not cut their hair; therefore, they grew long their long in a style called dreadlocks. These revolutionary beliefs would influence and impact his music. Michelle A. Stephens writes in her article that “the identification of the Rastafarian/singer with the rude boy/outlaw became a trope of music and film, both in the Caribbean and in the United States. Marley the Rastafarian and Marley the (inspired) rude boy connected the spiritual and mystical elements of Rastafarianism with a protest against the social conditions of impoverished and ghettoized blacks around the world, producing what would later come to be known as roots and culture reggae.” Likewise, Gilmore also comments on his beliefs stating, “–his faith would help [him] find new depths in his music. Rastafarianism- and especially its beliefs in in social justice, and its critique of the West’s political, economic and class system as a modern-day Babylon, would play a key part in Bob Marley rising to meet his moment and address the world he lived in.” Chris Blackwell, who was a merited white Jamaican producer and entrepreneur, helped Marley band the Wailers’ shoot off into fame. Stephens writes that he was “the Third World super-star who made reggae music an international phenomenon in the 1970s.” Unfortunately, in 1975, Marley badly injured his foot while playing soccer with a few of his friends. Many doctors advised that he should stay of the foot but he disagreed. Gilmore explains in his article that “He wouldn’t stop prancing onstage or playing soccer; he didn’t believe a broken foot should halt his momentum. In May 1977, while on tour in Paris, he injured his right toe again –time it was far worse. The toenail tore off and the laceration wouldn’t heal. A few later, he was limping painfully, he saw a doctor in London who said the damage had turned so bad that the toe could turn cancerous and should be amputated. Marley thought the doctors were lying, ‘Rasta no abide amputation. I and I don’t allow a mon ta be dismantaled. No scalpel shall crease me flesh! Dem cyan’t kill Jah, cyan’t kill Rasta. Rastamon live out,’ he told them in his native patios dialect. Instead, he saw an orthopedic surgeon in Miami who performed a skin graft and told him the treatment had been successful.” This was the beginning of his downfall. Although, he continued to concentrate on his music, he ignored his health. After, having a stroke in Central Park located in New York and passing out on the Madison Square Garden stage, the night before, he finally begins to take his health a little more serious. His blackout had been caused by a brain tumor which spread through his body. He had cancer and it current stage, it was untreatable. Marley played on last show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before he attempted treatment. He only lived 8 months more than he expected. He died on May 11, 1981 at the age of 36. His funeral was held in Kingston, Jamaica. Over ten thousand people attended his funeral and watched his body get transport to his birth place, Nine Miles.


The legacy:

Bob Marley, not only popularized Reggae but he became the icon of its unique sound and feel. He made it his unique art. It is unfortunate that his mixed-race background cause him complications when he was young. However, such exposure allowed him to viciousness of racial hierarchies and poverty. Like most teenagers, he had a rebellious which attracted him the rude boys. He liked that he could use his music to question authority which only grew as he became to be exposed to the Rastafarians’ belief and value. This would gain the attention of both fans and political enemies. He learned and combined his various influences which helped him produce his own unique. It also increased his commercial and musical associations. People were able to connect with Marley’s message and if not, they still enjoyed the new sound that he introduced many countries, outside of Jamaica, to. His strategy in conveying his message was very attractive. This important, in leadership and Marley had an idea how to appeal to audience. He knew that not only did his message have to be up to par, but so did his appearance. In Gilmore’s article, he tells of the time when Marley was more concerned with the opinions of his audience rather than his health. Marley wife reminisces on him saying, “How could I go onstage…They won’t stay looking at a crippled man.” He was rejecting the amputation of his foot. She claims that she believes that his decision had less to do with religious purposes and more with how he would appeal to others. It might have fear that made him want to focus on his music. However, it was still a good motivator because he insisted on working non-stop. His goal was to improve the world; therefore, he would write songs and recorded whenever he could. He would rather preform and live the way he saw fit than defer from his goal. He was on a mission and new the importance of it was to complete it. John Rockwell writes an article on the New York Times website explaining Marley music and its influence. He writes, “With his superb songs and arrangements, his rapt appearance and charismatic stage personality, Bob Marley and his group, the Wailers, won audiences for reggae all over the world, and influenced countless other musicians. Mr. Marley's concerts were hours-long, almost mystical events, with whole arenas standing and swaying to the insinuating rhythms and reiterated chants of his songs. Phrases such as "get up, stand up, stand up for your rights" - expressing the conviction that God would redeem the world despite its present sufferings - became anthems for his many admirers.” His legacy and influence continues live as generations of fans tune into his music and continue spread his message worldwide. His wife, Rita, also writes about his legacy in her book, No Woman No Cry: My life with Bob Marley. She discusses her last moments with him in prologue stating, “People ask what it’s like when I’m somewhere and suddenly Bob’s voice come on the radio. But the thing about Bob is so deep, it is as if he’s always with me, there’s always something to remind me. So I don’t wait for his voice. And he did promise me, before he finally closed his eyes, that he’d be here. It was May 11, 1981, and the doctors said he was dying of cancer and that there was no hope. But Bob was hanging on, he wouldn’t let go. I had put his head in my arm, and I was singing ‘God Will Take Care of You.” But then I started to cry and said, ‘Bob, please, don’t leave me.’ And he looked up and said, ‘Leave you, go where? What are you crying for? Forget crying, Rita! Just keep singing. Sing! Sing!’ So if I hear his voice now, it’s only confirming that he’s always around, everywhere. Because you do really hear his voice wherever you go. All over the world. And one interesting things about it, to me, is that most people only hear him. But I hear more, because I’m on almost all songs. So I also hear my voice, I also hear me.” Her words emphasize that Marley’s music is immortal and only continue to thrive; therefore, he will continue to exist. She understood and respect Marley’s mission but this quote is her revelation to understanding that Marley worked so hard so that his message which promoted love, peace, and happiness could never die.

Comparison of Cleopatra and Bob Marley

The case study Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt gives insight into the leadership of Cleopatra. She was a Greek woman whose intelligence and charisma won her the throne in Egypt. As pharaoh, she used her knowledge of geo-politics and alliance to her advantage. After, her brother kicked her out of Egypt, she appeals to Julius Caesar who was the ruler in Rome. He helps her become pharaoh. He’s continued interest in her, draws him in into staying with her Egypt. She bares a child a child from him but he had to return to Rome. Even though she visited him, he was killed for his relations with her. Then, people of Rome send Marc Anthony. She draws him in too and promises to be loyal and bring order. Marc Anthony’s men are surprised when they realized that he is emotional enslaved by a woman who is not as attracted as they imaged. However, Marc Anthony gets killed in battle and shortly after, she commits suicide. With her charismatic character, she seduces both Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony convincing them to be loyal to her. This strategy is successful in leadership because it enables the leader to have extended time to complete his or her objective. It is also a good example of how a leader can use the resources that are available to them. Bob Marley is much like her because he used his charisma to charm and seduce his audience. Gilmore writes, “Marley took to reggae. It gave him new vision and ambition. He wanted to make music that would satisfy and represent his homeland but that would also reach a larger world outside.” In leadership, it is important to know that nothing else is more important the completion of the objective. Like Cleopatra, Bob Marley uses his own strategy to get others to listen to him and be seduced by his native sound of music which was new to rest of the world outside Jamaica. His wife is a prime example of how people were drawn to him because he was able to seduce her and convince her to be loyal to him. Gilmore briefly discusses the relationship between them stating that “Their marriage had been neither simple nor painless for her. Marley had grown distant from his wife as career began to ascend in the early 1970s. He saw other women, and he fathered at least seven children outside of their marriage. (Marley and Rita had four children of their own.) Even so, he could be intensely possessive of his wife, and on one occasion, wrote Rita, her husband almost raped her when she tried to refuse him sex. She thought about divorcing him but she believed the bond of their partnership ran too deep and that Marley still needed her protection.” Rita Marley used to perform with Marley as the leader of his harmony group, the I-Threes. She was a key part in the deliverance of his message; therefore, in a way he needed her to fulfill his objective.

Comparison of Antigone and Bob Marley

The case study entitled Antigone: A woman who challenges authority is one of the rarest instances where the hero is a female. In this case study, there is a conflict between family and community. Antigone had to decide whether or not she will go against the orders of the King Creon. He refused bury her brother which was very significant in their culture. Antigone goes against the king even though it means that she will probably be killed. It is evident that in leadership there is often that love/ justice and law/ duty conflict. However, it is important that one understands that sometimes the law may not be just. Leadership is about choice, Antigone has to choose between what is right and what she has been told to do which is to let her brother rot. In comparison due to his Rastafarian beliefs, Bob Marley was not into politics. However, he did have a major influence in his country’s political aspects. In 1976, the People’s National Party and the Jamaican Labor Party, the two dominant political parties in Jamaica, saw him as threat. Bob Marley’s increasing fame made him not only popular among music fans around the world but also to many social rights activist. As the election neared violence in Kingston increased. The PNP visited Marley’s home, persuading him to play a free outdoor concert on December 5th. It was entitled “Smile Jamaica.” Even though Marley continued to proclaim that he was neutral, it was assumed that Marley favored the PNP because he had been cordial with the head of party, Michael Manley. Things became tension leading up to the concert. On Friday, December 3rd, an incident occurred during one of the practices for the concert. A group of gun men jumped out of two vehicles surrounding the house they were in while a few others came into the house aim the gun directly at Marley and his fellow performers. Bob Marley and his wife got shot. However, he did not defer from the concert. He felt like the concert would help promote peace. Against the warnings that he received, he went on stage showing his wounds toward the end. Like Antigone, Bob Marley was willing to die for his case. He knew the risk but he still performed. However, his leadership does not end there. On April 2nd, at the One Love Peace Concert, was able to convince the leaders of both parties to join him on stage where he held both their hands together as sign symbol of peace. Nothing much changed in Jamaica because the violence still continued. However, Marley’s message and action toward the situation would forever be recognized as courageous. Gilmore states that Marley believed that he “—still had work to do and it would be god alone, and never man, who would take him from the world.”


Importance of the applied leadership skills:

One can thus state that truly, Bob Marley is a leader of without authority. His music was revolutionary. As Mikhal Gilmore states at the end of his article, “He was a superb a melody writer and his songs’ insinuating pop hooks pull the listener into the realities Marley was describing. It’s a wonderful yet subversive device: Marley sang about tyranny and anger, about brutality and apocalypse, in enticing tones, not dissonant ones. ‘One Love,’ the Marley song that the BBC named ‘the song of the Century,’ is a good example of his methods. On the surface it sounds like a feel-good chant—along about the power of love to bring unity, but enter that song and you’ll find something else: It is about war, it is about damnation and vengeful God’s Armagedon, and it is about those who have been so wicked in their efforts to oppress the souls of mankind that they can’t rain down on t possibly escape the fire that is going that is going to rain down them. The ‘one love’ refrain is really just the part of the song that pulls you in. Once you’re there, you realize it’s really about: one hell. And still you hum it, you sing it when you’re by yourself. You can’t help it. Your children will do. Trust me. I doubt if anybody has ever pulled off feats like this better than Marley. He was the master of mellifluent insurgency.” Likewise, Paul Gilroy ends his article on a similar note stating, “Marley’s revolutionary attachment to love belongs in that company. The love he exalts is romantic and sexual but it is also playful, boastful, narcissistic and communal. It is fundamentally a love of life itself, deeply imprinted by the memory of slavery as the suspended sentence of death which could be carried out at any time by masters and mistresses who act with impunity. The defiance of life was tied to Marley’s opposition to war and to his stalwart advocacy of peace. This is his gift to us and to the future.” It is strong statements like these that give Bob Marley and his music a current immortality throughout both articles. Similar to the two writers, Michelle A. Stephens also seeks to find the purpose of Marley’s music. They all in their own theories come to the conclusion that Marley’s music is directly connected to surroundings and rooted belief of the Rastafarians. His leadership and influence are essential because he proved himself to be courageous and one of a kind. By taking advantage of the availability of his wife and the exposure of his countries unique culture he used his resources like Cleopatra in her reign over Egypt. Cleopatra and Bob Marley used their charisma and strategy to complete their objectives. In this way, they are intelligent because charisma was a tool that was successful in their favor. Cleopatra was able to stall the Roman Empire from conquering her land, Egypt. Bob Marley used his charisma when delivering his message on stage. He made sure his performance appealed to audience. This included maintaining his appearance in the public eye. However, his charisma was also an attraction for his wife, who played a key role in his performances. Her pursued her gaining her loyalty and partnership until his death. Like the case study of Antigone, Marley proved that he was willing to be a martyr for his cause. He continuously showed his devotion toward his objective. Marley message was often one that promoted justice and love. Both, Antigone and Marley went against the opinion of the law and the majority risking their lives to do so. The only difference was that situations in which they both decisions to make. Politics were not fond of Marley because of this and he often got threaten. However, that did not stop him from pursuing his objective. Even after getting shot and his foot getting injured. He still insisted that had work to be done. However, the personal choices he made in his life may have led to his death. His lack of concern toward his health cut his life span short. Yet, his message lives forever; therefore, it is important to realize the strategies that have enabled him to be a successful leader who lived and died for his cause. As a musical icon and informal social leader, he had a vision, a strategy to complete it, and completed by all means possible.


“Bob Marley dies.” 2014. The History Channel website. 3 April 2014

Gilmore, Mikal. “The Life and Times of Bob Marley: How He Changed the World.” Rolling Stone. Mar 10 2005: 68, 74, 76, 78. ProQuest. Web. 28 Apr. 2014

Gilroy, Paul. “Could You be Loved? Bob Marley, Anti-politics and Universal Sufferation.” Critical Quarterly 47. ½ (2005): 226-245. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Hartwick Humanities in Management Institute. Constructing Charisma: Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, Hartwick Humanities in Management Institute. Print

Hartwick Humanities in Management Institute. Antigone: A Woman Challenges Leadership. Oneota, NY: Hartwick Humanities in Management Institute. 1995. Print.

Marley, Rita. No woman no cry: my life with Bob Marley. Hyperion, 2004.

Rockwell, John. “Bob Marley.” The New York Times Company. The New York Times Co. Web. 15 April 2014

Stephens, Michelle A. “Babylon’s ‘Natural Mystic’: The North American Music Industry, The Legend Of Bob Marley, And The Incorporation of Transnationalism.” Cultural studies 12.2 (1998): 139-167. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 28 Apr 2014.

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