Jamaica celebrates 70th birthday of late reggae great Bob Marley
By Horace Helps
KINGSTON (Reuters) - Jamaicans celebrate the 70th anniversary of the birth of late reggae legend Bob Marley on Friday with a jamming session at his former home and a free concert as the Caribbean island continues to wrestle over his place in its pantheon of heroes.
Marley, who was born in Nine Miles, northwest Jamaica, died on May 11, 1981, in a Florida hospital from cancer age 36.
A "mini-jam session" is scheduled at Marley's former home at Hope Road, north of Kingston, as well as discussions on reggae, a popular genre that began in Jamaica in the 1960s with strong influences from calypso and jazz and lyrics of social protest.
A free concert on the Kingston waterfront on Saturday is expected to draw crowds, and local reggae artists, including one of Marley's sons, Ky-Mani, are set to perform. Police have announced traffic detours and street closures in anticipation of the throngs.
"I was not around when Bob was alive ... but people are still excited about his music," said Marcia Facey, 32, a fashion designer who lives in Kingston.
Jamaica has debated for years adding Marley to its Order of National Hero, its highest honor. Jamaica's current seven heroes are dominated by political figures.
No new heroes have been added since the 1980s and a committee has been examining nominations for the last three years, with Marley and former Prime Minister Michael Manley among a list of 10 names mentioned.
"It is high time that the government makes him our eighth national hero," said Errol Campbell, 57, a mechanic, also of Kingston. Continued...