Moves to make ‘Bob’ a national hero

The late Bob Marley.
AP Photo/Str
AP Photo/Str

Bob Marley’s plaudits could change from recipient of Jamaica’s third highest honor – Order of Merit, to the lofty first bestowed on only seven others as a national hero.

During celebrations commemorating his 66th birthday anniversary discussions about his possible elevated status resurfaced — this time garnering attention from the nation’s parliamentarian charged with impacting the debate.

On his actual Feb. 6 birth date, Olivia Grange, the minister of Youth, Sports and Culture said she supports the idea and is willing to lead the advocacy campaign for the reggae singer to be declared a national hero.

She told a national radio audience and those gathered at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston that Marley was a “great Jamaican” and that she “supported the idea of making him a national hero.”

Grange added that people who believe Marley should be upgraded from merit recipient to the highest order of honor should formally present their case to her through letters and petitions.

She said with those endorsements she would advocate for Marley to join the short list of seven national heroes the first of which was named in 1969.

The acclaimed king of reggae was awarded Jamaica’s third highest honor — the Order of Merit in 1981, the same year he died in Miami, Florida.

According to qualification a national hero can be awarded to individuals who “dared to challenge the institution of colonialism and in so doing changed the course of Jamaica’s history giving social and political freedom to its people.”

Those already worthy include: Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle, Sam Sharpe, George William Gordon, Alexander Bustamante, Norman Washington Manley and one female named Nanny.

Despite Marley’s vast acclaim internationally, there are those in Jamaica who argue Marley’s contribution and consideration of a position among the select group. They claim, unlike the seven heroes already established since the island obtained independence, Marley could not be regarded in similar light. The difference they propose is that Marley’s music primarily promoted Rastafari and reggae.

“We are not all Rastafarians nor do we all rally behind reggae,” a Jamaican who asked anonymity stated, “but we are Jamaicans and want the best for our country.”

“What Marley did is no different from what the Jamaica Tourist Board is doing. Should they be considered heroes?”

The Order of National Hero is Jamaica’s highest honour. Of six prestigious honours bestowed on outstanding individuals, the Order of National Hero is given only to Jamaican citizens for “services of the most distinguished nature” to the nation.

The others include: Order of the Nation, Order of Merit, Order of Excellence, Order of Jamaica and Order of Distinction.

Ailing Jamaican Hercules Needs Health Coverage

Fans of hip-hop are coalescing to raise emergency funds to help defray medical costs for Jamaican turntable wizard Clive Campbell who is ailing and uninsured for health coverage.

The pioneering deejay known as DJ Cool Herc is regarded to be the father of hip-hop for his genius “break” tactic using two turntables to separate and integrate rhythms and lyrics.

Many considered the innovative technique a Herculean accomplishment which helped to launch hip-hop. Allegedly, dubbed Hercules due to his muscular frame, Campbell, one of six children from Jamaican parents reportedly arrived to the Bronx at age 12. By the time he reached teen-aged, the immigrant youth frequently hosted house parties charging a small fee to anyone who wanted to see and hear him spin discs.

Herc, 55, emerged a legend throughout the community attracting scores of admirers and hip-hop fans. Herc is reportedly in need of surgery for an undisclosed condition and is unable to pay due to lack of health insurance. According to associates and friends who have spoken to the deejay, “he was recently released from a medical facility but remains in need of financial aid.”

Some are admonishing millionaires Sean P-Diddy Combs, Jay-Z, 50 Cents and others for not readily volunteering aid to the ailing personality. Various groups are planning benefits to help Cool Herc.

“I just spoke to Herc, he’s OK and in good spirits…but needs surgery…we’re gonna do a collection for him at Sutra,” DJ Tony Touch said from his Twitter account recently.

According to DJ Premier of rap group Gangstar, Herc’s health is deteriorating and he is in need of monetary assistance because he doesn’t have health insurance.

“Kool Herc is very sick,” DJ Premier revealed on his XM Satellite Radio show.

“For those that know about Hip-Hop, who we call the father of Hip-Hop, Kool Herc, is not doing well. It’s funny how we have a father of a culture that still lives, where as in some cultures they are dead and gone even though they may still be worshiped or reflected on in some kind of way.”

Donations may be sent to Kool Herc Productions, PO Box 20472, Huntington Station, N.Y. 11746.

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