Every year, on July 1st, we celebrate Reggae music in all its glory and appreciate how it has influenced the world for over half a century now – pushing for unity and togetherness. This is something we strive towards every day here at the AFRO*DISIAC Radio Station and it has always been an important part of our ethos in everything we do. So we decided to dive into the reggae history books today and learn some more about the culture.
Emerging in the late 1960s, the lyrical content of Reggae music has always unapologetically pushed for universal unity and political justice while the accompanying instrumentation provides a laidback vibe with the use of offbeat rhythms. Due to the success of Bob Marley in the 1970s, Reggae music has long been associated with the Rastafarian religion of which Marley was a devout follower. This was conveyed via Marley’s lyrics which also often depicted the areas of class and tales of Marley’s life from his years in the Jamaican ghetto, Trenchtown. The word “Reggae” actually comes from the term “rege-rege” which means “rags” or “ragged clothes” which gives an insight into the origins of the genre. This is often why Reggae is associated with growing dreadlocks, smoking marijuana as a sacrament and achieving oneness with nature – all traits adopted from Rastafarianism.
“One Love” is the message of this year’s International Reggae Day. This principle was first coined by political activist, Marcus Garvey, who included the phrase in his speeches to promote self-love amongst Black people who were taught to hate themselves for so long by their oppressors. Leonard Howell, a student of Garvey’s, went on to start the Rasta movement with this message in mind.
“The cry of One Love signifying unity amongst Black people to combat white oppression lasted for decades until Bob Marley decided to put the phrase in a song. It is not known if Bob had the same intention for the phrase as did its creator Marcus Garvey or even Garvey’s student, Leonard Howell. What we know is that the famous reggae song “One Love” is actually a cover version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People get Ready” but Bob replaces Mayfield chorus with the Marcus Garvey’s One Love.”
That’s all from us today at AFRO*DISIAC so we hope you have a Happy International Reggae Day and take care of each other!
Written & Researched by Max Dervan