Bob Marley’s spirit should inspire us, in Myanmar, Palestine, everywhere

Wednesday May 19 2021
Bob Marley.

A mural by Portuguese artist Odeith depicting Jamaican singer Bob Marley in this picture taken on November 17, 2019. PHOTO | PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA | AFP


There is a natural mystic blowing through the air, says a Bob Marley song from the 1970s, and some of us sang along with him, and cannot think of dissociating us with him, notwithstanding the passage of time.

Last week, on the May 11, Robert Nesta Marley was again remembered across the world as the young crooner who had burst out of Jamaica to cast the spell of reggae music to the rest of the world.

The influence of Bob Marley was monumental, effectively flooding from the slum dwellings of the legendary suburb of Trenchtown to wherever you may have been in the world where humanity is undervalued under the weight of capital.

Bob Marley still reminds us today that we have a lot of work to do, that we still must work to declare our humanity and have the world recognise it, that we still have to link our struggles with the peoples of the world that we may not know as yet.

Prophet Marley was a descendant of the African continent, the place we all think we know to be the most wronged in the history of humankind, whose people were humiliated, trampled underground, colonised, enslaved, sold as merchandise, and treated with contempt to this day.

Yes, Prophet Bob wrote and sang about all that, but his wailing message was about more than just the African victims of world history, though, of course, being Africans we felt it was more about us than about anyone else.


Humanity continues

He wrote and sang about all the peoples of the globe whose humanity continues to be denied, or to be ignored.

It is about the Rohingya people in Myanmar whose most basic rights of existence are being denied by people who the world stood together to defend. Even as the world has to stand by the Burmese people trying to rid themselves of a most brutal dictatorship, the world has the duty to remind them that they cannot hope to enhance their right to live free by denying the same right to the Rohingya.

It is most fitting for the world to refuse to accredit that double standard, and to tell the Myanmar people that their freedom cannot be held to be more precious than that of anyone else, something that Aung San Suu Kyi, erstwhile freedom fighter, seemed not to understand.

The world has moved to a more selfish stance wherein people look at the suffering of their neighbours and remain unmoved, no doubt feeling that it concerns only those that are currently suffering.

It is nigh impossible to know whether that lady’s nonchalance regarding the Rohingya is what has caused the world to be rather lukewarm toward the current massacres of her people by the military junta.

The world has no right to punish the people of Myanmar by ignoring their plight simply because their leader angered us by failing to understand that what is good for the goose is good for the gander; that what we accept as essentially right for an African must also be held to be right for an Igui; what is good for an Australian woman is good for a Venezuelan girl, other factors remaining equal.

Occupied territories

But the world has chosen to remain quiet, eerily quiet, in the face of what the Israeli state is doing against the Palestinians in the occupied territories, day in, day out.

The Jewish state of Israel, in particular today, is subjecting the people of Palestine to the most unacceptable brutalisation while the world watches and says precious little except for the ritual statements that come out of the United Nations Security Council and other UN agencies.

World War II taught us again, if ever we needed that lesson, that a wrong left unattended becomes a festering wound that is likely to infect the body of world politics, and that we must learn to sharpen our antennae to detect wherever crimes against humanity are being perpetrated, so that we raise our voices against them in order to thwart them and to not allow them to grow and proliferate.

Israel, which is founded on the spilt blood and broken bones of the victims of the Holocaust of the last war, cannot, should not, be allowed to use the horrible experience of the Jews to do what it sees fit today to mete out terror to the lawful owners of Palestine.

The terrible suffering of the Jews under the Holocaust and all the pogroms in their history cannot justify the killing of Palestinians in the territories that Israel occupies today.

Middle East

The continued illegal settlements by Jews on Palestinian lands should be condemned by all those who want to see justice and fairness restored in the Middle East.

Otherwise we will be condemning ourselves to repeating the same errors of the past.

By allowing naked military might to determine how parts of the world are administered and disposed of, we erode international legitimacy and justify the arrogance of the mighty.

In the long term, it is not sustainable.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]