Bob Marley

In the 1960s and 1970s music gained increased respectability within Jamaica and abroad through the popularity of Rasta-inspired reggae musicians like Bob Marley and his group “The Wailers" When I was in Jamaica this music was called “Jamaican Ska”. In the late ‘60s, it evolved into “rocksteady”, which was slower and gave more emphasis on the bass. Rocksteady soon developed into the more modern form called reggae, which used more modern instruments and technology and became more of Rastafarian content. The purpose of these music was to generate and restore the black consciousness and a self awareness of the worthiness of the black people.  In order to establish this the message of the superiority of the black over the white was presented through all forms of Art and through the religion.  It is in this purpose the regae was developed. The religous language of Christianity was used whereby. the white were an oppressive evil force representing the Babylon in fight with the Zion which is identified with Ethiopia.


It was probably regge that gave the maximum boost in the growth of the Rasta.  It was most notably, due to the Jamaican singer/songwriter Bob Marley. By 2000, there were more than one million Rastafari faithful worldwide. About five to ten percent of Jamaicans identify themselves as Rastafari. The first reggae single that sang about Rastafari and reached Number 1 in the Jamaican charts was Bongo Man by Little Roy in 1969. Other reggae musicians with strong Rastafarian elements in their music include Peter Tosh, Toots and The Maytals, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru, Midnite, Ras Michael, Prince Lincoln Thompson, Bunny Wailer, Prince Far I, Israel Vibration, The Congos, Mikey Dread, etc.












Singer Bob Marley (1945 – 1981)


“Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq, head of the Kingston chapter of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica, was initially sent to Jamaica by Emperor Haile Selassie to establish the church and to dispel the worship of Selassie. “Selassie felt that if he personally commissioned someone to start a church that worshipped Christ and not himself, the Rastafarians would follow the true Christ.

The Archbishop interviewed by Barbara Blake Hannah for Gleaners Sunday Magazine (November 25 1984), told how Bob Marley had come to his church for some time. When he had expressed a desire to be baptized, people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different aspect of Rastafari prevented him from going ahead. The Jamaicans.com website says that Bob remained outside the church for several yearseven  after his wife Rita and their children joined the church in 1972.

It is said that Bob Marley before he died of Cancer repudiated Ras faith and got himself baptized.on 4 November 1980.  Robert Nesta Marley died on 11th May 1981 in a Miami hospital after an 8 month battle with cancer. He was only 36.  When he was buried under Orthodox rites on 21st May 1981 it was with his Bible and his Gibson guitar!

Garvey declared his faith in 1928 at the Century Theater in London as follows::

(William David Spencer, Dread Jesus (London: SPCK, 1999), 134.)
I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost;
I endorse the Nicean Creed;
I believe that Jesus died for me;
I believe that God lives for me as for all men;
and no condition you can impose on me by deceiving me about Christianity will cause me to doubt Jesus Christ and to doubt God.
I shall never hold Christ or God responsible for the commercialization of Christianity by the heartless men who adopt it as the easiest means of fooling and robbing other people out of their land and country.”

Old pirates, yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty.
We followed in this generation, triumphantly.
Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom?
Cause all I ever have: redemption songs,
These songs of freedom.

This was the last song on the last album Marley released before his death.
It states clearly what Rasta really is: a strengthening of the hands that earn and fights for freedom;
"..the dream and the hope of the negro slave.."





.Get Up, Stand Up Lyrics

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
 Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!….x2

Preacher man, don't tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you don't know
What life is really worth.
It's not all that glitters is gold;
'Alf the story has never been told:
So now you see the light, eh!
Stand up for your rights. Come on!,,,,,,, Get up…

Most people think,
Great god will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. Jah!

Get up, stand up! (jah, jah!)
Stand up for your rights! (oh-hoo!)
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up!)
Don't give up the fight! (life is your right!)
Get up, stand up! (so we can't give up the fight!)
Stand up for your rights! (lord, lord!)
Get up, stand up! (keep on struggling on!)
Don't give up the fight! (yeah!)

We sick an' tired of-a your ism-skism game -
Dyin' 'n' goin' to heaven in-a Jesus' name, lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty god is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!)

So you better:
Get up, stand up! (in the morning! Git it up!)
Stand up for your rights! (stand up for our rights!)
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight! (don't give it up, don't give it up!)
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up!)
Stand up for your rights! (get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! (...)
Don't give up the fight! (get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! (...)
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight! /fadeout/



."The Crown Prince of Reggae", Dennis Brown.
"He is said to have made at least 78 albums for some 37 record labels, sometimes releasing six or even seven albums in a single year" (London Times, 1999).

.Nyahbingi Music

However the basic worship music remains to be the Nyahbingi Music- not reggae- with its power to call upon the forces of the cosmos to fight against the evil following the Nyahbingi cult which we have discussed earlier.

“…Storm, cyclone, tidal wave and all tempestuous roaring elements from creation to destroy the wicked nation and set Rastaman free…”

I hear the voice of the Rastaman say:
Babylon your throne gone down, gone down
Babylon your throne gone down.

Fly away home to Zion
Fly away home.
One bright morning when my work is over
I will fly away home





The musical accompaniment consists of a heartbeat rhythm, played in 4/4 time on a trinity of drums. Only Rastamen are allowed to play drums at Nyahbingi. Anyone may play shaka, or shekere.

There are membranophones played at a groundation ceremony in rasta culture. Nyabinghi music is played in 4/4 time on three drums:

  • Thunder: It is a double-headed bass drum, played with a mallet. The strokes are an open tone on 1 and a dampened stroke on 3. Occasionally, the thunder player will syncopate the rhythm.
  • Funde: The funde is the middle drum. It maintains the dominant heartbeat rhythm as the funde player makes steady, dampened strokes on 1 and 3. it is thus dually known as the heartbeat and has the least improvisational role.
  • Repeater: The repeater or kete, is the smallest and highest pitched drum. It is somewhat of a single elongated bongo. The drummer tends to play around 2 and 4, with a syncopated, rather than a backbeat feel. These beats are important to the overall feel of the Nyahbingi rhythm, but the repeater has a very improvisational role in bingi because it is seen as the carrier of spirit.
  • Shaka: The shekere, which is commonly found throughout Africa, the Caribbean Latin America, has a place in Nyahbingi. The shekere player has a somewhat flexible role: He/she has been known to play on “1”, “1&”, “1” and “3” or “1&”…“3&” [The following should be noted regarding the curious nomenclature of this instrument—Perhaps the word is a simple corruption of the proper pronunciation; and there is the possibility that it is a more calculated allusion to the Zulu word for fire, shaka.

Niyabinghi chanting typically includes recitation of the Psalms, but may also include variations of well-known Christian hymns and adopted by Rastafarians.