JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson announced today that the Government would partner with several of its state agencies, as well as other organisations and individuals, to honour reggae icon, Bob Marley, in a year-long programme of celebrations.
He pointed out that the celebrations would be held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the birth of the reggae legend. “The 60th birthday is not just a day of celebration, it is at least deserving of a year of celebrations and we believe that the programme that the government has accepted and on which we will embark, will serve as a fitting tribute from the nation of his birth,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Patterson was addressing a press conference at Jamaica House, which highlighted the programme of activities to be held throughout the year to celebrate Marley’s life.
The Prime Minister explained that the programme of activities was designed to involve Jamaicans at all levels across the island and the wider diaspora.
He credited Bob Marley for being the first Jamaican artiste to achieve international superstardom and “whose message of peace and love, in the face of formidable social and political challenges of the African people and their descendants, continues to have resonance in our hearts and minds today”.
Outlining the events for which the Government has given its support, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson said they included, four symposiums, organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), which are to be held in various parishes. She said they were intended to “educate the ordinary person as to really what Bob Marley meant”.
The first symposium was hosted in Westmoreland today (February 1), while others are scheduled for Clarendon on February 2; St. Mary on February 3; and St. Thomas on February 4.
A free concert is to be staged at Emancipation Park on February 6, that will feature performances from a number of conscious reggae artistes. The concert is a joint effort of the government, the Bob Marley Foundation and American promoter, Robert Roskind. Minister Henry Wilson said in relation to ‘Jamaica Day’, which is celebrated annually in schools each year on February 4, “this year, students will be learning about Bob Marley, not just singing about him, so our theme for this term’s Jamaica Day is, ‘Nation builders – Celebrating Bob Marley’.”
Independence celebrations this year, she added, would also be centred around the life and work of Marley and his time. “Therefore, we are having an expo called an Emanci-pendence which tries to link Emancipation and Independence as a continuous movement, and to build into that, the whole life, work and activities of Bob Marley,” she added.
Mrs. Henry Wilson said the Prime Minister’s Gala would also incorporate Bob Marley as its motif, ‘Jamaican artistes singing Bob Marley’.
Pointing to the year’s culminating event, the Minister said the Government was working in collaboration with friends in London to stage a ‘Natural Mystic’ concert on August 27 to showcase the music of Bob Marley, as well as other related music that was “clean and wholesome”.
She said the event was being planned to counter the bad reports received from overseas media as a result of the music and lyrics of several artistes. “We’ve been getting a lot of negative publicity about our Jamaican artistes and we decided that the best antidote to that, is to show the rest of the world what positive lyrics we can have,” Minister Henry Wilson said.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Marley, daughter of the late reggae legend and Executive Director of The Bob Marley Group of Companies, thanked the Government for endorsing the year of celebrations, “not just for his life, but for the mission of peace, unity and one love”. She pointed out that her family’s celebration of her father’s life began today with the hoisting of a gigantic balloon, emblazoned with his image, at the Tuff Gong recording studios in Kingston. The balloon, Miss Marley said, is intended to stay afloat for a year.
Miss Marley said other events to be held include a church service at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on February 6, in addition to an annual function hosted at the Bob Marley Museum, where school children would perform a skit or song that incorporate a theme assigned to them. This year’s theme is: ‘He’s a Legend’.

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