Lisa Hanna getting some traction with her renewed call for Bob Marley to be named Jamaica’s 8th National Hero.
There have long been calls from various sectors of Jamaican society to honor those who have contributed immeasurably to the island. One such way that this is done by the Jamaican government is by bestowing hero status.
The official title is called the Order of National Hero, and it is the highest of the five Jamaican Orders of the Societies of Honour. The accolade is usually given to Jamaican citizens for services of the most distinguished nature to the nation. Along with the title come perks such as being traditionally honored with a tomb or monument in National Heroes Park.
As of 2015, Jamaica has given the status of National Hero to seven recipients, namely Marcus Garvey, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Nanny of the Maroons, and Sam Sharpe.
While the list is impressive, many still argue that the true heroes of Jamaica, those who helped bring the island worldwide recognition through music and the arts, have never been granted the same privilege.
Many have been calling for legendary reggae singer Bob Marley to be granted the Order of National Hero, especially since his contribution is ongoing even beyond his death. His music undoubtedly touched the world and, in doing so, shun a light on Jamaican culture.
For context, it has been four decades since Bob Marley’s death. Since that time, he’s sold over 75 million records, with the greatest hits collection Legend from 1984, which is now certified 15 times platinum, averaging annual sales of 250,000 units. That’s not to mention the influential brand that bears his name that is marketed all over the world like Marley Coffee.
Yesterday, April 5, the issue was again highlighted by St Ann South Eastern Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna. She moved a motion in the House of Representatives asking that Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen take the necessary steps to bestow Jamaica’s highest award on Marley.
Marley’s contribution to the island is unmatched, so he should be honored appropriately. Thus, Hanna’s point of view is shared by many. Before asking that the motion be moved, she penned an editorial in the Sunday Observer, where she said:
“Forty years after his death, in our 60th year of independence from Britain, Bob Marley continues to frame the reference of Jamaica, reverberating with conscious noise, haunting the world with hopeful calls to action amid despair. How come? And what should this mean for us as a country seeking Republicanism from our colonial vestiges?”
Another learned voice has joined her call to honor the “One Love” singer. Professor Clinton, director of the Institute of Technological and Educational Research at The Mico University College, also spoke with the Jamaica Observer about his feelings on the matter.
Clinton described Marley as an exceptional player in 20th century Jamaica. He further opined that the reggae legend was instrumental in helping to spread the philosophy of Marcus Garvey and Rastafarianism in songs and poems. Marley’s work also helped to educate the masses about universal issues such as freedom, justice, and black identity, he added.
He joins the chorus of voices in Jamaica who are calling for more heroes that they believe are also deserving of hero status.
Hutton also shared that he believed that the time had come to honor the people in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. They were considered revolutionaries who helped push Caribbean culture around the world. In his opinion, these would be people like Marley, Trinidadian master artist/poet LeRoy Clarke, and Barbadian poet Kamau Braithwaite.
The fact remains that it’s time we recognize that Bob Marley is one in a million and that he was an exceptional person, he continued. There have also been calls from other notable figures in Jamaica, like Foota Hype, that Marley’s face should be featured on one of the Jamaican dollar notes. The Jamaican Minister of Finance, Dr. Nigel Clarke, recently said he is not ruling it out, but he added it would be “subject to there being a higher note.”
Renewed called for Bob Marley be named National Hero in Jamaica came after Rihanna was declared Barbados National Hero in Barbados at age 33 in November last year. Rihanna is now Barbados’ 11th National Hero and first billionaire.