ONE LOVE: How songs of redemption united a divided nation

Several minutes after I set foot in the land of Rastafarians, a street hawker approached me and tried to sell dried marijuana leaves, which has its ritualistic use in the Rastafari movement in Jamaica — one of United Kingdom’s colonial outposts in the Caribbean in the past.

“Conquistadores” on orders of royal families in the United Kingdom and Spain had sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia -- opening trade routes and colonizing. Spain came across Jamaica and colonized it just what they did to Mexico and the Philippines.

It was during this Age of Discovery and romanticism that great works of musical artists like Bob Marley took inspirations as he sought emancipation from what he calls “mental slavery,” unity, peace, and love – one love that is.

From Kingston, Jamaica, we traversed the 85-kilometer journey to the Dunn River Falls in Ocho Rios or “Ochi” on the north coast of Jamaica facing the Caribbean Sea. Dunn River Falls is a 180-feet high falls and 600-feet long river, with boulders that are naturally terraced like giant stairs. The falls empty into the Caribbean Sea at the western end of a white-sand beach.

The sound of Jamaica reeks of the reggae or ska, the sound first made popular by the singing group Toots & The Maytals who sung the first reggae song “Do the Reggay,” note the “y” instead of the “e.” It is in this sound that Bob Marley & The Wailers kicked off their defining songs.

When Marley approached record producer Leslie Kong, it started the entry of Marley in the rocksteady, ska, and reggae genre. And the rest was history. Marley became one of Jamaica’s musical icon along with Harry Belafonte.

The sound of redemption songs that denounced oppressions, slavery and colonialism, are evident in the music of Marley who believed that independence of African countries from European domination was a victory for all oppressed individuals in the African diaspora. Thus the song “Africa Unite.”

I left the small Caribbean island and learned three phrases: “Yeh Mon (Man), “Irie,” “Nuh Problem Mon (Man).” From a Crown colony to independence, Jamaica has conquered the world with its music courtesy of Bob Marley and The Wailers.

One Love, the story of Bob Marley is still showing at SM Cinemas.

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