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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 12:24 GMT
Marley's fans gather in Ethiopia
Italian Rastafarians who have come to Ethiopia to participate in a month of festivities
The celebrations will pay tribute to Marley's advocacy of African liberation
Thousands of Rastafarians and music fans are gathering in Ethiopia to begin a month of events to mark what would have been Bob Marley's 60th birthday.

It is the first time the annual celebrations are being held outside the reggae legend's native Jamaica.

Ethiopia was chosen because Rastafarians, such as the late singer, regard the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie as their spiritual leader.

Marley's widow Rita Marley has said one day she wants him reburied in Ethiopia.

She has distanced herself from initial comments she made last month that Marley would be reburied as part of this year's celebrations.

"It was a dream of Bob Marley and it is a dream of the family to bury him in Ethiopia. As we believe in what is to be, must be, it will happen in due course," she told AFP news agency.


Netsanet Asfaw, Ethiopia's minister of state for information, said Ethiopia was pleased to be hosting the events.

Bob Marley
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots
Marcus Garvey
Jamaican black nationalist leader
"Bob Marley put Ethiopia on a pedestal and it is in his honour that this festival is going to take place here," she said.

Under the banner Africa Unite, the month-long events will include concerts, a film festival, seminars and a gala fundraiser using the themes of Marley's songs including War, Exodus and Get Up Stand Up.

They will kick off on Tuesday evening with a concert by the late singer's 80-year-old mother, Cedella Marley Booker.

A highlight will be a concert in the capital, Addis Ababa, on 6 February - Marley's birthday - featuring three of Marley's children as well as Quincy Jones, Baaba Maal, Youssou N'Dour and Angelique Kidjo.

After that the celebrations will move to Shashemene, some 250km (155 miles) south of the capital, where a Rastafarian community has settled on land left to them by Haile Selassie.

Peace recognition

Marley became an icon of the 1970s with his music catching the imagination of millions.

Bob Marley's widow Rita
Rita's remarks about the reburial did not go down well in Jamaica
Africa Unite is from his most political album, Survival.

On the cover is a quotation from black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey: "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots".

Marley was a dedicated Rastafarian and a strong believer in one of its central beliefs, the importance of return to Mother Africa.

He received a United Nations Peace Award , in recognition of his attempts to calm the warring factions of Jamaican politics and played at Zimbabwe's independence celebrations in 1980, where he discovered more Zimbabweans knew the lyrics of his song than knew the words of the national anthem.

Aged 36, he died of cancer in 1981 and was buried with his Gibson guitar and Bible beside him.

Should Bob Marley be reburied in Ethiopia? How would you feel if you were Jamaican? Do you think Ethiopians and other Africans should support the Marley family's wish to rebury him in Ethiopia?

Let us know your views by using the form below.

A selection of your comments will be broadcast on the BBC's Focus on Africa programme on Saturday 5 February.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

I think Bob should be buried in Ethiopia since has a very strong spiritual influence for him. His beliefs demonstrate a desire to be eternally linked to Ethiopia in mind, spirit, and body.
Christopher Murguia, San Diego, CA, USA

If it was really Bob's wish to be buried in Ethiopia why didn't they bury him there in the first instance? I think that Rita Marley is looking for publicity rather than following the wishes of her late husband. I do not support any plans for reburial.
S.B., Kingston, Jamaica

If Bob Marley wished to be buried on the soil of the continent he was convinced he originated from, then let it be so. He was a hero, a grandson of people forced of their homeland for the white man's economic prosperity. We love you Bob, your spirit lives with us.
Birungi Jimmy, Kampala, Uganda

I think Rastafarians, Jamaican or not, would want to respect the family's wishes, and would consider being buried in Ethiopia a tribute to Bob. The only people that might want to stand in the way are non-Rastafarian Jamaicans, who wouldn't understand Bob anyway, and should have no say. Jamaica can still boast many tourist destinations about Bob without having his actual body.
Bardis Vakili, San Diego, CA, USA

Yes, of course he should be buried in Ethiopia because all black belong to Africa and Ethiopia is part of Africa. Cheers
Shad, Canada

The man is dead, leave him alone! Let his body be where it is! Peace to that man!
Tanel Harak, Estonia

As the first international reggae superstar Bob Marley is intrinsically linked to the soul of Jamaica. Still, when one listens to his music, it is evident that his heart always yearned for the African continent - and Ethiopia in particular.
Aaron Mindel, New York City, USA

As a native of Ethiopia, I consider Bob as one of Ethiopia's great heroes who advocated for Africans independence, freedom and unity. Bob undoubtedly inspired many of African's leaders to work towards African Union under one flag. It is an honour for the people of Ethiopia to rebury Bob in Ethiopia, if it is possible next to nation's Father Emperor Haile Selassie's grave.
Yosef Hailu, Michigan, USA

If Bob Marley expressed a wish to be buried in Ethopia, he should have been buried there in the first place. If not, he should remain where he is as he was either content to be buried in Jamaica or frankly unconcerned about where he was buried. This is a man who chose to leave no will, even though he knew he was dying for some considerable time before he passed. He doesn't care so let him rest in peace in his place of birth.
Susannah Davis, London

Bob's remains must remain in Jamaica - he belonged to the country no less than he belonged to his family, and that's where he became what he became.
Irvin Forbes, Kingston, Jamaica

If their family so decides then Ok but I know the Jamaicans will not find it funny. For the sake of the nation let him REST where he is currently. He can never be forgotten even in Cameroon. Marley you stood strong against colonialism and today we are suffering from neo-colonialism - I wish they were people like you to keep on ringing the bell for an end. Rest in Peace Marley you did it, we shall try to do our part NOW.
Vise Gilbert, Bamenda ,Cameroon

Of course he should be. His whole message was based on Zionism which is a return to the holy land. For him his holy land was Ethiopia. He didn't make it to a point in his life where he thought he had finished spreading his message and could just return to the place he thought of as home. If I was Jamaican I would want to follow what I thought his wishes were.
Keanan McCabe, Bishopville, Maryland, USA

I think this would be the most stupid thing in this world to do - indeed Ethiopians don't really have anything to do with the hero. Let him be buried in Maranhao of Brazil where reggae is highly adored by the blacks and all Brazilians of this region, despite lack of English. Long live Marley`s dreams.... Africa Unite!
George, Bogota, Colombia

"No matter where you come from, as long as you are black man, you are an African." - Lucky Dube. Few people know and believe this assertion as much as Bob. Let's unite him with his motherland.
Akabogu Anayo Valentine, Nigeria

It's a dead body, who really cares?
Mike, England

I regret to say that as a Jamaican I cannot support the decision to rebury Bob Marley in Ethiopia. I understand that he had close connections with Ethiopia and in extension Ethiopians, but Jamaica is the land of his birth.

He had an enormous impact on this "land of wood and water". To Jamaicans, he is not only seen as a cultural icon, but as an ambassador as well. Although I have deep respect for Ethiopians, I think that Bob Marley should remain here.

I think it would be devastating and disappointing if one of our most beloved son were to be taken away from us. For persons like myself who were born after his death, we have no real life recollection of him. Nonetheless, it feels really good to know that he is buried in this island we call home.

Please, I understand your motives and reasons but Bob Marley belongs here in Jamaica, his native homeland.
Deneene McDonald, Kingston, Jamaica

Jamaicans and Africans will always remain brothers and sisters so taking Marley's remains to Ethiopia it isn't bad at all.
John Manda, Salima, Malawi

His remains should be left in peace in Jamaica that's where the rest of his family is. We in Africa consider Jamaica as part of Africa so to me it makes no big difference where Bob's body is. Jamaica is one of the many African islands.
Ronald Ngala Yongo, Nairobi Kenya

In this age of African unity, why shouldn't Bob Marley be buried in the land of his fathers? Even as a Jamaican, he stated that it was his wish to be buried in the soils of his perceived homeland. You wouldn't find many Africans objecting, the man is an icon for the entire continent, and his music is an inspiration for the continent's downtrodden millions.
Irish_Bebop, South Africa

What is more important to me is the music of Bob Marley, Jah Bless, reburying him won't make a difference. If I were Jamaican I would feel it's a betrayal for Bob's remains to be reburied. Made in Jamaica, let him stay there - only bring the remains to Africa when the family is relocating.
Awissi Ambrose, Kampala-Uganda

Bob Marley preached the politics of liberation. Ethiopia has been about oppression for as long as anyone can remember. Wars, famines, disease, political unrest, uncaring government, promotion of military expenditure at the expense of health, education, roads, rail, transport, etc. Ethiopia produced the most uncouth leaders. How then can anyone want to associate that with Bob Marley? Utter confusion I would say.
Benson Magaba, Harare, Zimbabwe

No problem we will welcome
Mulualem, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

No - If anything he should be buried in Sussex, England, as it is, after all, his paternal ancestral homeland

Bob's father, Norval Marley was an Englishmen born in Jamaica, to an English father from Sussex. Bobs remains would be far safer in the UK, where more of the fans from around the whole could have access to pay their respects. Ethiopia is too volatile to risk as a guardian to his remains.
Stuart Jebbitt, Ringwood England

Marley's legacy will remains forever, his family should understand that his reburial will change nothing about the reputation the world has for him, let Marley's soul rest in peace, and remember "the legend lives forever".
Alhasba, Jos, Nigeria.

I think his reburial in Ethiopia is besides the point,rather we should learn from his wise words through his music.His music was the embodiment of the oppressed,the rewakening of the mind and generally enlighting and therefore,we should celebrate his life and not were he should rest.
Emmanuel Mwelwa, Lusaka,Zambia.

Personally I do not think there should be any prohibition. Bob Marley loved Africa a lot and if his family find it fitting to rebury him then let it be.However Jamaicans feelings in this should also be considered since he is also their icon too. Growing up in apartheid South Africa I would have liked to see him alive because most of his songs were so inspirational, it's a pity that he died in his prime. Euthopia or Jamaica, let him rest in peace.
Phindiwe Irvin Mbhele, Soweto, South Africa

Well I personally think that if it was his wish to be buried in Ethiopia. People should respect that. Most people look at him as a good marketing icon etc... If it was a wish of a person respected by many to be buried there it should be granted.
Ivan, Metkovic,Croatia

Absolutly! He should be buried in Ethiopia.I am sure that is what he would have wanted. I am now married to an Ethiopian, and I have grown to love Ethiopia. Our plans are to eventually move there and live there much of the time. Although I love America and am very fortunate to be an American, I have learned very much from the Ethiopia people and enjoyed there hospitality and friendliness while I lived there for three months after my wife and I were married. I believe that the wishes of the deceased and the decision of the family should be respected and that Bob Marley should be buried in Ethiopia.
Rodger S. Mravik, Gilman, WI USA

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See scenes from the annual celebrations


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