Robert Nesta Marley
Baptised BERHANE SELASSIE
Jamaica's famous Rastafarian
poet and reggae musician spent most of his career
on the fringes of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church
as a member of various syncretistic religious
groups. Only on his deathbed, at the insistence
of his Orthodox wife
Rita, did he finally consent to baptism. Nevetheless,
and in spite of numerous falls into wild and
dissolute behaviour in the course of his life as
a pop star, Marley is in my view a true Orthodox
artist, both in that whatever is true and beautiful is
Orthodox and in that his whole life was a journey toward
the Orthodox Church and out of bondage to the passions.
The remark of
Mortimer Planno, one of the syncretist religious leaders whom
Marley followed, that the musician was a "rude boy slowly
transformed" is entirely accurate. Bob Marley's music is a testimonial
to his "unseen warfare" (or, to use the Iyaric
term, his "nyabinghi"), and the lyrics of many of his songs
are pervaded with a deep and traditionally Orthodox Christian
Norman Hugh Redington
- Timothy White:
Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley.
The most widely available Marley biography.
I have rather mixed feelings about it. On the one hand,
it is astonishingly inaccurate about both Orthodoxy
and Rastafari (and for all I know about every other
subject it treats); I am always astounded to see it
cited as a reliable source, which often happens.
In spite of this, it seems to pick up rather well the
spirit of the Rastafari millieu.
London : Elm Tree Books, 1983.
National Library of Jamaica:
Bob Marley Bibliography.
The Electronic Wailers Discography.
Comprehensive guide to the music of Marley and his band.
--- Bo Peterson
Bob Marley's Baptism in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Excerpts from statements to The Gleane,r
(Jamaica's national newspaper), 1984 November 25,
and to the Jamaican
Broadcasting Company, 1995 July 9.
--- Rastafari Speaks
Norman Hugh Redington:
Through Hudade to Fasika with the Hon.
Robert Nesta Marley, O.M.
Reflections on the Orthodox content of some of
Marley's songs. As the author, I make the following
observation: When this was written in 1995, reunion
of Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches seemed
much more likely than it does at present. If I were
writing it now, I would (as a firm supporter of the
Chalcedonian definition) have to rephrase some passages.
If time permits, I will attempt to do so in the future.
--- Bo Peterson
Return to St Pachomius Library.