Like the very sun that makes this planet habitable, Bob Marley is a light that will never go out. As one of the most celebrated musicians, philosophers, and humanitarians of all time, Marley received countless awards and accolades in his lifetime. Since his passing, the tributes have not only continued, but they have increased, both in number and scope.
Earlier this month, Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff officially signed into law a national reggae day to celebrate the cultural contributions the genre and its artists have made to the country of Brazil. The new National Day of Reggae in Brazil will be celebrated annually on May 11 – the date of Bob Marley’s passing.
Though the reggae day bill was written to commemorate the importance of reggae music as a whole, not surprisingly, Bob Marley is specifically honored in the new law for his remarkable influence on the genre, and by extension, Brazilian culture and culture globally.
Brazilian Senator and author of the reggae day bill, Rodrigo Rollemberg, wrote that May 11 would serve to honor “the music rhythm spread worldwide by Robert Nesta Marley.” The reggae day bill continues, “The legacy that Bob Marley left the world goes far beyond reggae: it is through this music that many Brazilian artists use the medium to make legitimate social criticisms.”
Bob’s legendary flair for social commentary (recently highlighted in the documentary, Marley) was an integral part of the music he created throughout his career. From The Wailers’ major label debut, Catch a Fire, to his aptly titled final album, Uprising, Marley used his music to shine light on social causes and spark conversation.
Rollemberg sees that tradition continued in contemporary Brazilian artists in particular. The reggae day bill cites, “Cidade Negra, Edson Gomes, Gilberto Gil among many other national artists devoted to continue to push through reggae, messages of peace, love and social criticism to encourage people to fight for their rights, just like Marley.”
Props to the Brazilian legislature for embracing the cultural role of Bob Marley, reggae, and the arts in general in Brazil. The newly established national reggae day ensures that the spirit of Marley, and the peace, love and unity that he stood for will remain with the people of Brazil for years to come.