Robert Nesta

By Rèmí Oyèyemí June 5, 2020

Robert Nesta

“The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?” – Bob Marley, December 5, 1976 at “Smile Jamaica” Concert, two days after  surviving an assassination attempt.

The shape of the face looks like an egg inversely placed in the holder. The cheekbones defy the cocoon of flesh to flex its shape. Like a sculptured artwork, the chin and the cheeks, in their alignment, sandwiched the jaw in a manner that would fit perfectly in to the cupped palms of an adoring lover.

The nose proportionately chiseled and placed equidistantly in the middle of the face, exacerbates the beauty of the totality of the visage. His nostrils precociously luxuriate under the canopy of the nose which unashamedly and affectionately cling to the pole trudging through the space between the two eyes to link the forehead. 

The temples on both sides exude a fierce reluctance in their bend to linking the forehead to project a perfect picture. The eyeballs, alluring in its simplicity, were unassuming in their stream of dreams of and for freedom in its truest sense for the negroid race. The eyelashes percolated like parapluies without much ado above the eyes in very close distance as they exude pulsating confidence in the support of the brow.

His lips, moderate in their sizes, would tempt any lady who appreciates the intrinsic value of good kissing. Where he smiled, he looked bewitching, enchanting and captivating. His teeth seemed seminally crafted and nitpicked in manicured measurement to create a lyrical rhyme not just in size and plum, but to ensure a beautiful and functional affinity to and with his mouth.

His ears, almost never seen, are buried in the always dangling forest of dadaic (from the word Dàda, a cognomen given to children with dreadlocks in Yorùbá Culture) stretches of hair, audacious in their protective responsibility to his head like a handwoven cotton hat burning out the coldness of the winter. His hair not fanciful in its beauty remain a source of curiosity to the untutored and added to his enigma and mystery.

In his younger days, before becoming a convert to Rastafarianism, his air was unapologetically afro in style. Unlike other philosophically confused musicians of his era who “fried” their hair to ape the Caucasoid. They were among those languishing in “mental slavery.” Despite the fact that his biological father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was a Briton, he was clear in his mind about who he was. He understood his History. 

The moustached mounted above his upper lip seemed forced to grow, unmistakable in its austerity, flippantly flourished. Like silver strands, in its diffidence, it added surreal symmetry to enhance the handsomeness of his visage. Its shiny dark colour further pronounced the seduction of the complexion.

The complexion itself radiated always like the mid-day beauty of a desert in unreserved gratitude to the sun. In all the countless pictures, the face glowed and glistened. Where the mood was sober and stoic, it projected deep reflection, an insignia of a mind deepened in philosophy. Where he beamed with smiles, those were the images of a liberated mind marinated in the joy and happiness of knowing the true meaning of being free. 

Obviously a product of an ebony coloured African gene diluted by that of a peach coloured Caucasoid gene, his complexion falls into the genre resented by the racist Caucasians. But he did not allow that to define his worldview. He pitched his tent with his fellow African brethren and once asked during an interview, “Where did they get the idea that one race is superior to the other?”

Though, according to Alpharita Constantia “Rita” Marley, he would love to be remembered as a “lover,” he was much more than that. He was a prophet, freedom fighter, sage, avatar, teacher, philosopher. He was, most importantly, a musician. He was a student of Marcus Garvey and Frederick Douglas. He lyricised many of their inspirational words to spread the message of freedom.

Armed with his acoustic guitar, a sonorous velvety voice and a sound existential philosophy, he inspired millions and tugged the conscience of the conscienceless. He might not have created a revolution against oppression, but he advanced its frontiers, across borders, racial barriers, religious barricades and social blockades. 

He created a following with his gospel of “One Love” and even much more with his message of humaneness of humanity. He was simple and accessible. He was a star who lived among his people without any ennoblement of any facade. He was real and very much grounded in the reality he sang about and to which millions and millions across the globe were able to relate. He was authentic.

Though, he died in his prime at age 36, with unconfirmed rumours of the involvement of the American Central Intelligence Agency that he had been “touched”, swimming around, his death, like those of few great men has failed to diminish his reach and stature. Actually, it is as if he never died at all. He is still more revered. He is still much more adored. He is still much more admired and cherished.

His album, “Legend,” released in 1984, three years after his death became the best-selling reggae album of all time. As a musician, he also ranks as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with estimated sales of more than 80 million records worldwide. The Rolling Stone magazine ranked him No. 11 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

He played soccer. He mingled with children and adults alike. He mixed with the rich and the poor without any guile. He was accessible to the high and mighty as well as to the low and the disadvantaged. He lived love the way he preached it. Undiluted. Unalloyed. Uncontaminated. He had influence which he refused to milk and stayed away from it and all its appurtenances.

Driving through North Tatnall Street, Wilmington City, in the State of Delaware, a few days ago, a momentary tarry in front of number 2313, reminded that a legend once lived here with his mother; that he once trampled this road and this street. It was a moment that reinforced the nexus between his songs and his existence; between his spirit and his vision; between his labour of love and his mission.

He is Robert Donald Nesta Marley, also known as Bob Marley.

He still lives.

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