KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka
RICHARD Williams, a former editor of Time Out and Melody Maker and former head of artists and repertoire at Island Records, attended Bob Marley’s funeral in Jamaica three decades ago.
In a piece for the Guardian in 2011, he recalled the funeral as an extraordinary carnival of music, prayer and full Rasta pageantry.
“They buried Bob Marley on 21 May 1981 at Nine Mile, the village where, 36 years earlier, he had been born. His heavy bronze coffin was carried to the top of the highest hill in the village and placed in a temporary mausoleum painted in the colours of red, green and gold. Alongside Marley’s embalmed corpse, the casket contained his red Gibson Les Paul guitar, a Bible opened at Psalm 23, and a stalk of ganja placed there by his widow, Rita, at the end of the funeral ceremony earlier in the day,” Williams recalled.
It was a sad day but not so much for his fans.
“There was no reason to grieve, the Rastas told anyone who expressed sorrow. Death meant nothing. Bob hadn’t gone anywhere. He was still among us.”
It is indeed 36 years ago since Bob died, but his legacy is still being celebrated worldwide. His music is very much here, and alive too.
At Bongwe, next to Spar on Zambezi Road in Lusaka’s Roma township, reggae fans will gather this evening under the banner of the One Love Reggae Festival to pay tribute to the legend.
Not everything will play out according to the way they did at his funeral in Jamaica [Rita obviously will not around and ganga is being discouraged], but the organisers, Shakarongo Music, who have traditionally organised the tribute shows in the country, are eager to put up a good show.
They want to celebrate his legacy by observing the best professional standards possible.
“We’ve partnered with Zirbo Zambia, the biggest in the country when it comes to stage, lights and equipment. They have done a lot of national functions at Heroes Stadium and also did Mosi Day of Thunder two weeks ago in Livingstone,” Brian Shakarongo told the Weekend Mail in Lusaka.
“We’ve done a number of improvements to the show having listened to what people have been requesting and suggesting. With the improvements, we also expect musicians to show improvements, to show professionalism on stage.”
He says because of that, they have had to be strict with the names of musicians on the lineup at this year’s show.
“In the past, we’ve given almost any reggae musician the stage, but when we do the reviews afterwards, we watch their performances, we see a lot of mediocrity as if they’re using the function for rehearsals; we can’t allow that, we’ve to respect Bob Marley’s legacy.”
Some of the musicians on the line-up at Bongwe are Cactus Agony, Bantu Roots, Milz, Bongo Far-I, Burning Youth, Logmith, Natasha, Nasty D, Uhuru Vibez, No Parking band, Sir Jones, Davies and the Wings, Ras Anada with Negus Tafari and Radicoz of Chipata city.