Bob Marley: Once An Immigrant Like You By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Bob Marley -Photo credit: Alec Byme
Columnist: 
By Rudolph Okonkwo

At 11 o’clock in the morning of February 10, 1966, just four days after his 21st birthday, Bob Marley walked into the office of the Justice of Peace in Trench Town. He was wearing a black suit and the fancy shoes that music producer, Coxsone, bought for him. His bride was wearing a borrowed mother-of-pearl tiara and a white wedding dress made by her aunt. Few hours after the marriage, Bob and the Wailing Wailers opened for the Jackson Five at the National Stadium in Kingston.

Two days later, he left Jamaica for Delaware.
 
His mother, Cedilla Malcolm Marley, immigrated to America three years earlier. She had filed papers for him to join her. When his papers came through, he said he would not leave unless Rita would eventually follow him. He married Rita because he was afraid that she would find another boyfriend when he was gone.
 
In Delaware, Bob worked at Chrysler factory. He also worked at Hotel DuPont in Wilmington. He did not like what he was doing. He did not like life in America.
 
Eight months after, he wrote Rita and said, “I’m coming home, I’m sick of this place. Today, while I was vacuuming, the vacuum bag burst and all that dust went up in my face. If I stay here, this is gonna kill me. It will give me all kinds of sickness! I’m a singer, I’m not this, I’m coming home.”
 
Bob returned to Trench Town and continued to work on his music. Things were tough. He had no money and was sharing a room at Rita’s Aunt’s place with two kids. During this period, Bob and Rita began to practice Rastafarianism. They refused to eat from the same pot as Aunty in whose house they lived.
 
That irritated Aunty.
 
Rita’s brother, Wesley, who was a police officer, was also furious about her belief in Rastafarianism. One day he came home and beat up Rita saying, “Do you think it is right after all the money Aunty and I spent on you, that you end up like this? What are you getting out of it? You think because you’re married you’re big? You’re still under our protection, and you have no right to be a Rasta! That’s being worthless.”
 
As a result of these developments, Bob and Rita decided to return to Nine Miles, a village in St. Ann, Bob’s birthplace. St. Ann had no electricity and no running water. Bob’s family house had no kitchen and no toilet. It was in a farm area on a hill.
 
On hearing that Bob was returning to St. Ann, his mother wrote from Delaware asking him to come back to America for St. Ann would be his end. She urged Bob to be a gentleman, wear neckties and work nine to five. “You are going back to careless life,” his mother wrote, “life that doesn’t show money making. You and Rita have no ambition.”
 
Bob and Rita lived in St Ann, working on the farm. During that period, Bob also wrote some of his most memorable songs.
 
In January 1967, Bob was introduced to Johnny Nash who signed the Wailers to JAD records. That was how Bob Marley and the Wailers took off.
 
In 2000, Time magazine voted him the greatest musician of the 20th century, greater than Elvis, Michael Jackson and the Beatles put together. His song, One Love, was voted the best song of the century and his album, Exodus, the best album of the century. At his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, U2’s Bono dubbed Bob “Dr. Martin Luther King in dreads.”
 
Though he died in 1981 from cancer, his album, Legend, has remained on the Billboard 100 chart ever since. Across the globe, anywhere oppression of the weak is taking place, courage and solace seem to emanate from his songs.
 
I was thirteen when I discovered him. It was at a high school send off party where the DJ played Bob Marley Buffalo Soldier. In the song he talked about being taken from Africa and being brought to America. It was the first time I was aware that some people were taken from Africa and brought to America. No schooling up to that point had thought me that.
 
At sixteen, now in College, I heard Redemption Song. I wanted to grow my hair like his.
 
At twenty six, I had immigrated like Bob to America.
 
At thirty six, I read No Woman No Cry by Rita Marley and came to the staggering conclusion that Bob became what he is today because he said no to America. Because Bob said no to America, he escaped what had become a wasted journey for so many.
 
Bob Marley would have been sixty-eight today. Maybe if he had not said no, he would have been one of those middle aged Americans whose jobs at Chrysler had gone to Mexico.
 
How has your journey been?
 
(A version of this piece was first published by Kwenu.com on Feb, 7, 2007)

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Q3F4P

The universally desired Gucci and Prada come in at numbers two and three, where accessories for both are particularly popular, and the designer bargain hunt does not stop there. Number five is celebrity tracksuit favourite Juicy Couture, followed closely by Burberry at number seven and Marc Jacobs at number nine.

@ 8:37!

U are deluded and I think you must be on something greater than marijuana. Keep on smoking until you brain is cooked, and please do us a favor get off the key board.

HE IS ONLY 5 FEET 7 INCHES...GANJA MADE HIM FAMOUS!!!

HE IS ONLY 5 FEET 7 INCHES...GANJA MADE HIM FAMOUS!!! a petite dude who slept with any woman he met. fathered all kinds of rats and did not shit to take care of them. only good thing he did was smoke some weed. i like that and respect him for that.

Where ever you find fulfilment in life, stay there

Where ever you find fufilment in life, stay there. Life is tough any where on earth, find your destiny and fulfil it. Do your very best and leave the rest. Whether it is America or Nigeria, life isn't easy. Just plan to succed and work hard at it, and success will surely be yours.

@Ekaabor Ogiso: Don't my the crooked Anonymous guy

Most of those claiming to have made it in Nigeria are 419ners.

I visited Nigeria and saw a friend who now holds a PhD in Nigeria. He has more than 10 houses but only to find out, he is a very very corrupt civil servant doubles as lecturer with a big potty belly.

He sells handout to students and you must buy his handout to scale through his course at one of the Universities in Niger Delta (i know u guys are trying to pinpoint..LOL LMAO). At the ministry where he works (2nd job), he is known as "Mr. Egunje". . . I heard from a reliable source, no contract passes passes through his desk without "palm greasing"... i hope u understand?

I am not jealous of him o... I am just saying

@ Babanmaiduniya

What makes you think that this guy is massaging his ego or lying?. I think you are the one massaging your ego. Not only that you sound frustrated and jealouse at this guy's achivement. You guys from the north should stop been hateful to other peoples achivement, if they are not from the north.Your people have screwed up the country real bad.Twelve states of the North introduced sharia law.Look what it has turned your enclave into. Three korean Doctors murdered for absolutly no reason. Stop lecturing us lecture your people.

Re-I hear you

Mr anonymous,that's truly who u are but certainly not a lecturer in an undisclosed "UK top 5 University"(SIC).Blondie in her song says "dreaming is free"But lying is not only not free but it's also costly.Your own case is tragic because you are engrossed in delusion of the grandiose while in reality you remain disillusioned with your depraved life.
Please,stop lying just to massage your ego.

Re-I hear you

Mr anonymous,that's who u are but certainly not a lecturer of an undisclosed one of the 5 top most universities in the UK.Blondie in her song says "dreaming is free"But lying is not only not free but it's also costly.Your own case is tragic because you are engrossed in delusion of the grandiose while in reality you remain disillusioned with your depraved life.
Please,stop lying just to massage your ego.

I hear you...

My people say 'Akal'aka di'iche' meaning all 5 fingers are not equal. The most important thing is to know GOD early in life and by HIS divine direction from within, find your own place. I left Nigeria less than 10 years ago with a 2:1 and after a stint in banking. Rather than staying back to kowtow to the bosses' numerous menial demands and lick the butt of idiosyncratic 'customers', having decided that there just had to be more dignity in labour. In less than 10 years, I have completed a Masters degree, a fully-funded PhD and am now a lecturer in a UK top 5 University. Today I teach the likes of my former bosses on the UK MBA. I love Nigeria, but I tell you ROO, I'll leave it again and again... and again!

I hear you...

My people say 'Akal'aka di'iche' meaning all 5 fingers are not equal. The most important thing is to know GOD early in life and by HIS divine direction from within, find your own place. I left Nigeria less than 10 years ago with a 2:1 and after a stint in banking. Rather than staying back to kowtow to the bosses' numerous menial demands and lick the butt of idiosyncratic 'customers', having decided that there just had to be more dignity in labour. In less than 10 years, I have completed a Masters degree, a fully-funded PhD and am now a lecturer in a UK top 5 University. Today I teach the likes of my former bosses on the UK MBA. I love Nigeria, but I tell you ROO, I'll leave it again and again... and again!

Re: My Journey

I hope you stay there and never come back. Every country goes through challenging times and Nigeria would get over it. And remember, no matter how long you stay there when the chips are down, they will discriminate. Enjoy.

My journey

I may have got every other decisions wrong but the one I got right was my decision to pack my belongings and leave Nigeria for good. You will never know how bad and backward Nigeria is until you leave. My goodness, it was a decision I got absolutely right. Nigeria is complete rubbish!!

@Anonymous Marley and America

I left Nigeria for United States with nothing in my pocket, 17years ago after several disappointment and frustrations with the Nigerian system. Today it is the best decision I ever made in my life. Sure I started by washing dish in restaurants and doing security guards. Today I hold two graduate degrees in engineering and have a job with the US federal gov that any person will dream about. I have visited more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia,Europe and South America. If I did not make that decision I probably be dead or turn into crookery in Nigeria. Nigeria environment is the worst place for anybody to blossom and grow if you don't have a god father. However that it work for me, does not mean it will for someone else.

PHD Security Guards

@Anonymous. If there is a PHD you know that is a security guard, then maybe he does not have a green card. Your statement is a myth. There are many extremely successful Nigerians in the United States. That you made it out of a population of 160 Million people is no litmus test that staying in Nigeria is a better option. You like Bob are simply lucky.

The legend lives

"If puss and dog can get together why can't we love one another?" "We refused to be what they wanted us to be. We are are what we are and that is the way life is going to be." "They keep us hungry and when you wanna get some food, your brother gotta be your enemy." These are the words of the master himself. Bob was a philosopher. We need to love one another irrespective of tribe.

Rudolf was waxing philosophical here. I left Nigeria at 21 to study in the U.S. and drew inspirations from Bob. 31 years later, I am still in the U.S. but I have done very well. Could I have been better in Nigeria? The answer is blowing in the wind.

Deri

I will still ask you the same questions. Who is controling the monthly allocation of all south south states? Is it the Governor of Lagos or Kano? Is the Chairman of NDDC from the North or South West? Where is the president of Nigeria from? Is it the north or SW? The problems and the causes of underdevelopment of SS is the handiwork of their community leaders, Militants and the politicians. If the monthly allocation is not spent on personal assets, the region would have been the most developed in the country. Deri, have yourselves to blame for your regions' predicament. 

Bob Marley

Don't know what part of this write up that stated that Bob Marley had one of eyes affected by the bursting of the vacuum bag, rather that the bursting of the vacuum bag emptied the dust in his face and he felt less than a human and decided to back to Trench Town. The writer was not in history contest, rather good readers ve picked the underlining expression of his text.

ROO- Master of your trade

Thanks a bunch for this one yet again. This is one more reason I never turn in until I visit the treasure we know as SAHARA REPORTERS. Very well researched ROO!

Hi Rudolf!That was a fine

Hi Rudolf!That was a fine piece. That guy is irreplaceable. He will forever remain a great inspiration for me. Thanks! Emmanuel

Nigeria.

To your question; Nigeria is the one nation where foreigners - Whites, Arabs, Indians, Chinese etc - are very successful while majority of its citizens are impoverised. What a nation!

Crazy Bald Heads!

Indeed, America, England, Canada- exploiters of of black talent. Never understood racism until these encounters. Sad that our ignorant leaders still quake for the whiteman.

Yoshi Kai, Yoshi Kangai

Good products never ever needs 1 min of marketing.

Thats why I read all y'all. OK, Ru, pAD, OGa, Chi, etc.

I thank all y'all.

Yoshi kai, yoshi kangai

LET'S PRAY WE NEVER BECOME A VICTIM OF WAKA MISS ROAD!!!

O'WELL. WHY IT IS TRUE THAT HOME IS HOME, EAST, WEST, NORTH, OR SOUTH, WHAT HAS OUR MOTHERLAND NIGERIA TO OFFER? NOTHING BUT A LOT OF WASTED TALENTS AND LIFE, TOO MUCH TO BE COUNTED. THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE, AMERICA IS NOT THE GOLDEN ELDORADO, BUT IT HAS BEEN GOOD TO ME,IN NIGERIA IF YOU HAVE NO CONTACTS, OR DON'T BELONG TO CULTS OR SECRET SOCIETIES YOU HAVE NOTHING COMMING, A BARBARIC SYSTEM OF ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE, WERE YOUNG WOMEN ARE TURNED INTO PROSTITUES JUST TO HAVE A JOB. A PLACE WERE PEOPLE SELL THEIR SOUL TO DEVIL FOR FILTHY LUCRE, AT LEAST AMERICA WILL STILL REWARD EXCELLENCE AND IF YOU HAVE THE BRAIN YOU CAN GO FAR AND ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS!!!!

Happy Birthday Bob

Happy Birthday Bob, BTW, the eye accident Bob had before venturing into Music was from a metal Workshop as an apprentice Welder in Jamaica & not some Vacuum bag bursting up-:)

A generation gap

"We don't no greater philosophy."

GEJ SARTED LIFE LIKE MARLEY WITHOUT SHOES!

(At 11 o’clock in the morning of February 10, 1966, just four days after his 21st birthday, Bob Marley walked into the office of the Justice of Peace in Trench Town. He was wearing a black suit and the fancy shoes that music producer, Coxsone, bought for him. His bride was wearing a borrowed mother-of-pearl tiara and a white wedding dress made by her aunt.) They all had shoes while growing up in d 3 old regions of 9ja! Except President Goodluck Jonathan!--whose father could not afford to buy him a pair of school sandals-that is what it means to grow up in the oil bearing communities of the Niger delta-that dashed Nigeria over 55 trillion NAIRA-yet their sons and daughters had to pay through the nose to get an education! Still they prefer boko haram and our sweet crude oil 2 d ideas of our shoeless GEJ-d Ijaw man from the creeks of the Niger Delta inside Aso Rock!

I ll soon be heading home,

I ll soon be heading home, getting tired already. D`Banj n Don Jazzy equally went back like Bob.

Can't a regime gives

Can't a regime gives electrity to Nigerians? If we all unanimously demand, we will get it. What is Jonathan doing?Let all billions going to his madam be allocated to electricity. All 16 Billionss for vice president go to elctricity. VP can take one of the siezed properties as a home.

Is is still better than

Is is still better than Nigeria. I believe if Muritala is alive things would have greatly changed in that country but putting obasanjo is the greatest mistake.Now Nigerians are thinking of 100 years anniversary celebration without electricity. Idiots!

Come home you

OK if he did not return to jamo, he may still be discovered with better pay and standard of life and perhaps is cancer quashed before being too late.
When are u coming home you?

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