On December 3, 1976 an assassination attempt was made on the life of the legendary reggae superstar, the late Bob Marley who was preparing for a free concert entitled “Smile Jamaica” which was scheduled to take place two days later. In recognition of those historic events, a free concert was planned at the Bob Marley Museum which coincidentally was the site of the assassination attempt where Bob lived at the time.
This commemorative event was scheduled for December 3, 2016. I decided to attend. I made my way to the Barbican Beach restaurant where a shuttle was to take us on a short trip to the venue. The hosts on the bus were very friendly, engaging passengers in singing Bob Marley’s anthem “One Love.”
We arrived at the venue at 3.35 pm for the concert that was scheduled to start at 4.00 pm only to find the gates locked, a crowd building on the outside and intermittent drizzles. The security personnel insisted that they were under instructions not to let in people until the designated start time. In the spirit of Bob Marley’s rebellious nature, the people were irate at this treatment. But in the midst of this contentious situation, I witnessed the true spirit of Jamaican community when in dealing with their own discontent they noticed a young mother with a baby (see photo above) and insisted that she and her infant be let in to find shelter from the intermittent showers. Eventually the security personnel relented and let mother, baby and partner in.
Finally, at 4.35 pm, authorities let in the crowd and on entering the venue, it became clear to me why they didn’t want to let the people in as they were still preparing for the afternoon’s event (see photo above). However the medley of Bob Marley music that the sound system was playing more than made up for events outside the gate. As Bob sang “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.
The concert eventually started at 5.45 pm or thereabouts with Mitzie Williams as MC. Artists featured were Ricky Chaplin, Black Hero, Marla Brown (daughter of the legendary Dennis Brown), Runkus, Kelissa, Jahnine. Irie Soldier (see above photo) came all the way from Spain to perform. Chronixx made a cameo performance with an a capella version of Smile Jamaica.
Third World who performed on that December 3, 1976 show made an appearance on this commemorative show exactly 40 years later. They did a set which included Reggae Ambassador, Forbidden Love, 96 degrees in the shade. They also played Satta Massa Gana which they had done on that 1976 show. They ended with two of their biggest hits, Try Jah Love and Now That We Found Love.
During the band change before Stephen Marley came on, a sound system selector w ho goes by the name DJ Asha Payne came on. She was described as the daughter of Ziggy Marley. She played the music with so much energy, even leaving the controls to go centre stage to perform some dance moves. Her highly energetic performance was reminiscent of her grandfather Bob Marley.
Stephen Marley came on after midnight and sung a medley of his father’s tunes including Smile Jamaica. I left at 12.45 am when the show was still in session.
The reason why I gave this post the title is that I regarded the earlier actions by those managing the concert as an assassination attempt at the ideals that Bob Marley held so dear. Bob loved humanity and would have been incensed at the insensitive treatment meted out to those at the gate. Bob was a disciplined artiste and would have been most displeased at an event held in his name starting nearly two hours after its scheduled start. However, Bob’s “One Love” ideal could not be killed and was seen in full force with people of all different backgrounds enjoying some great Jamaican music.
(c) A. Pierre Sobers 2016