Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

The story behind Bob Marley’s Zimbabwe

In the 1970s I was working for the United Nations in Ethiopia and, together with several colleagues who had a passion for music, we formed a group called The United Nations Jazz Band.

Zimbabweans in that band were (former finance minister) Herbert Murerwa, Cephas Mangwana and myself. There were eight other members from other African countries. Our band used to play at various UN functions to which we had been invited.

Bob Marley used to come to Ethiopia to support the Rastafarian movement tin that country and during one of his visits he made inquiries about people who were involved in music and apparently our group was brought to his attention. This is how we got to be connected.

We became friends and he would come to my house and we would rehearse together. I was not a reggae artiste because I was more inclined to jazz music. But Bob was a patient teacher who taught me the chords and progressions of the genre. He highlighted that Zimbabwe was on the brink of independence and it would be great if we could actually write a song for the country, so we started working on the track.

I was not much into reggae music but being an artiste and under the mentorship of the legend himself I found myself throwing in my ideas so as to add the African sound to the song. So while we were practicing the song I would add my ideas both in the instrumentation and lyrical bit of the song until it was complete.

This song was so special in the sense that it was timely as it was sung during the independence celebrations and the fact that it was being performed by an artiste of that calibre who was a sympathiser of the liberation movement was just amazing.

We had become close and at one point he even asked if it was possible for me to join his band whenever he was performing in Africa but I told him that it was not possible because I had a full-time job and music was just a hobby.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Eastern Cape premier Mabuyane lives large amid province’s poverty

Oscar Mabuyane and MEC Babalo Madikizela allegedly used a portion of state funds for struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s commemoration for their own benefit

Constitutional court confirms warrantless searches in cordoned off areas unconstitutional

The law was challenged in response to raids in inner Johannesburg seemingly targeting illegal immigrants and the highest court has pronounced itself 10 days before an election in which then mayor Herman Mashaba has campaigned on an anti-foreigner ticket

A blunt Mantashe makes no promises during election campaigning

ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe told people in Daveyton to stop expecting handouts from the government

Mbeki: Social compact the answer to promises made in ANC...

Former president Thabo Mbeki urged business and government and society to work together to tackle issues such as poverty, unemployment and poor services and infrastructure
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×