Friday, April 22, 2016


Open your eyes and look within:
Are you satisfied with the life you're living?
We know where we're going;
We know where we're from.
We're leaving Babylon, y'all!
We're going to our Father's land.

Movement of Jah people!

The reggae legend Bob Marley died on 11 May, 1981, over 30 years ago, in a Miami hospital after an 8 month battle with cancer. He was 36. To the masses he was known as Bob Marley, the man who brought them reggae and Rastafarianism. His was the voice of classics like No Woman No Cry, recorded live at the London Lyceum Ballroom in 1975.

However, what most people don't know, and many try to cover up, is the fact that Bob Marley converted to Christianity in 1980. In fact, on 4 November 1980 he was baptised and became a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. When he was buried under Orthodox rites on 21 May, 1981, it was with his Bible and his Gibson guitar!

Bob Marley was born at Nine Miles, St Ann's in Jamaica. His father was Norval Sinclair Marley, a 50-something Liverpool born captain in the British Army. His mother, an 18 year old teenager, was Cedella Booker. His birthday is thought to be 6 February, 1945, although no birth certificate has ever been found.

His mother, and his grandparents, read the Bible at home and worshipped in a Christian church. Bob Marley strayed away from that upbringing as a teenager and as an adult embraced Rastafarianism. He had married Alpharita Anderson in February, 1966, and while he was away in the USA earning some money to pursue his musical career she had converted to Rastafarianism, following the visit to Jamaica of Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia.

Rastafarians worshipped Selassie as the Messiah and Saviour. Bob followed suit and spent his career espousing the beliefs of Rastafari in songs like One Love, Jammin, and Exodus.

The worship of Selassie is a little ironic as Selassie was a Christian and in the 1970's personally commissioned Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq to go to Jamaica to start a church that worshipped Christ and not himself, in the hope that Jamaicans would follow the true Christ. Yesehaq became the head of the Kingston chapter of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The archbishop told how Bob Marley had come to his church for some time. When he had expressed a desire to be baptised, people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different aspect of Rastafari prevented him from going ahead.

Bob was under the spiritual guidance of the archbishop but was baptised just a year before his death, after 3 aborted attempts to convert in Kingston. He backed out each time, says the Archbishop, after being threatened by other rastas. Marley was finally baptised in the Ethiopian Church in New York where less resentments were less inflamed. The Archbishop christened him Berhane Selassie, ‘light of the Trinity.’

Yesehaq testifies: ‘I remember once while I was conducting the liturgy, I looked at Bob and tears were streaming down his face. Many people think he was baptised because he knew he was dying, but that is not so. He did it when there was no longer any pressure on him, and when he was baptised, he hugged his family and wept. They all wept together for about an hour."

Yesehaq is adamant Bob's conversion was genuine. It is clear that Marley denounced the belief of Selassie as God at his conversion and baptism into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and accepted the faith, otherwise his funeral would never have taken place in the church. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church does not allow any ceremonies including funerals for non-members.

Why is the story of Bob Marley's conversion not more widely known? Judy Mowat, one of Marley’s backing singers the I Threes, says,

‘If people knew, they would be drawn to Jesus Christ. Nobody wants to promote that in Jamaica. I said it on a popular television program over there, and a Rasta man met me, and asked me why did I have to say that? I told him it was because it's the truth! But he never wanted me to reveal that and I think that nobody wants it to be revealed because so many people would be drawn to Jesus.’

Bob Marley's official website doesn't even mention his conversion, although a number of fan sites do. Bob Marley found a Redemption Song that Satisfied his Soul. The question is will the People Get Ready for their Exodus!

Bob Marley knew Jesus. Do you?


Sasha said...

I heard of his conversion, but so good to know more about this story.
Before I knew/heard, I also treated/felt his songs like another version of Old Testament.

Iyad Jabbour said...

I read about it few months back. Someone wrote stuff about celebs whi became Orthodox

Iyad Jabbour said...

I read about it few months back. Someone wrote stuff about celebs whi became Orthodox