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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 December, 2004, 18:59 GMT
Calls for Marley to be named hero
Bob Marley
Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981
There is growing support to have the late reggae star Bob Marley made a Jamaican national hero to mark what would have been his 60th birthday.

The Bob Marley Foundation is also seeking to have his birthday on 6 February declared a national holiday.

The push for national hero status comes as preparations are underway for a month-long celebration of his life in Ethiopia next year.

It will culminate in a concert featuring three of Marley's children.

Quincy Jones, Baaba Maal and Youssou N'Dour are also due to perform at the concert in Addis Ababa on 6 February, which is supported by Marley's widow Rita.

The celebrations under the banner Africa Unite are also supported by Unicef and The Bob Marley Foundation.

Anywhere you go in the world the first thing people think of when they hear Jamaica is Bob Marley
Jacqueline Knight-Campbell, Bob Marley Foundation

Other events include a film festival, seminars and a gala fundraiser using the themes of Marley's songs including War, Exodus and Get Up Stand Up.

Higher level

Ethiopia was chosen because it was the home of the late Emperor Haile Selassie, the spiritual leader of Marley's Rastafarian faith.

As plans are gathered, the Bob Marley Foundation continues to lobby to have him recognised for his contribution to Jamaican culture.

"Anywhere you go in the world the first thing people think of when they hear Jamaica is Bob Marley," said the foundation's Jacqueline Knight-Campbell.

"He has inspired so many people with his songs so it's time for us to step up and take Bob's recognition to a higher level."

Only seven Jamaicans have been bestowed the title national hero, including civil rights leader Marcus Garvey and former Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante.

There have been previous efforts to have Marley added to the list but these have so far failed.

Marley was awarded Jamaica's third highest honour, the Order of Merit, in 1981, just a month before he died of cancer at the age of 36.

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