Bob Marley birthday celebrations marked by dispute over possible reburial

World locator map with Ethiopia highlighted in green.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Jamaica — The celebrations to mark the 60th birthday of Bob Marley, the reggae musician who died of cancer in 1981, have been marked by controversy. Since his death these festivities have always taken place in Jamaica, but this year they are taking place in Ethiopia, and particularly in the town of Shashamane, which is where the former Ethiopian Emperor and Rastafarian God Haile Selassie gave land to the Rastafarians to settle on nearly 40 years ago.

The controversy was sparked last month by Bob's wife Rita Marley's comments that she wanted his body to be reburied in Ethiopia. Such was the wave of disapproval generated that she quickly backed away from her original statement, but the question as to where his remains should lie is now being hotly debated both in Jamaica and the rest of the world.

As a Rastafarian Bob Marley's spiritual home was in Africa, and specifically in Ethiopia. Yet he only visited the country once, and according to those who want his remains to stay in Jamaica, he was entirely a product of Jamaican culture.

World locator map with Jamaica highlighted in green.