Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery

During his career as a musician and activist, Robert Nesta Marley focused his efforts on confronting and rectifying oppression through song. Much of his music is influenced by the unjust living conditions in his Jamaican community, Trench Town. His legacy as an activist is due to his ability to identify universal symptoms and efforts of social injustice. His songs detailed the systematic results of cultural imperialism and powerlessness in impoverished communities.

Marley used songs like “Could You Be Loved” and “Three Little Birds,” to describe how we can combat systematic oppression. He urged listeners to re-evaluate the way they treated each other and – more importantly – how they regarded themselves. He believed everyone’s personal self-worth would translate into the better treatment of others.

As we celebrate Bob Marley’s 68th birthday, we should be reminded of his vision of unity and love. One internationally renowned program that embodies Marley’s vision for a progressive future for is El Sistema, a national youth development program originated in Venezuela by activist and composer Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu in 1971. The organization provides intensive and free instruments and classical training to the country’s poorest children. By developing high expectations within a safe and structured environment, children learn to take pride in their musical craft and talents. That pride grows to include pride in oneself and high self-esteem.

by Noel McKenzie

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