The Observer (Kampala)

7 February 2013

Uganda: Happy Birthday Bob Marley - Gagamel

Photo: Vanguard
Late Bob Marley

On what would have been Bob Marley's 68th birthday, the Rastafarian fraternity organized a jam session at the Laftaz Lounge, Centenary park to celebrate their fallen brother's birthday.

Bob Marley, real name Robert Nesta Marley, was a Jamaican singer and songwriter and a member of the Rastafari movement. Born February 6, 1945, Marley breathed his last on May 11, 1981 but his musical legacy still lives, touching many lives even 32 years later.

The jam session, masterminded by Bebe Cool's Gagamel crew and other Rastas in town, paid tribute to Marley's life, music and his impact on the Rastafarian fraternity. By 10pm, the 7pm event had not yet started and had only a handful of Marley fans who were mostly Gagamel crew members. The stage stood deserted and the only source of entertainment was a projector that was showing popular reggae songs for the bored revellers.

Worse, the machines were in poor condition, causing the music to go and off, which was rather irritating. Eventually at 11pm, Ras B Ssali hit the stage to kick start the jam session backed by his Blood Brothers' band. Sadly, he had just started singing when the machines broke down again, making the crowd impatient.

"Bano Gagamel crew yabalonze wa Katonda wange! [Where did Gagamel get this band; Oh My God!]" one guy at my table exclaimed in disgust.

After what seemed like eternity, the machines behaved and smoothly played music. Strapping his guitar, Ras B Ssali did a rendition of Bob Marley's Redemption Song, which I realized was more like the Rastafarian anthem. He then did No Woman No Cry but the crowd was still not moved.

"This is a jam session; so, feel free to come up on stage and do any Bob Marley song of your choice," encouraged Ras B Ssali to the crowd.

This saw Gagamel's Chizzo storming the stage to sing One Love, which somewhat breathed life into the night. He then resang Redemption Song, which he did better than Ras B Ssali.

Several others ascended the stage to show the crowd their vocal talent. The favourite song that got the crowd up and dancing was surprisingly Alpha Blondy's Coco de rasta, not Marley's. And by everyone, I mean even the disabled rastafarian, who could not contain the excitement as he danced with his hand on his crotch, like his life depended on it.

Indeed, Marley's legacy lives on as his birthday presented upcoming artistes with an opportunity to free style their music, which spiced the night up. And the ace card was Grenade, a nine-year-old upcoming artiste, whose articulate reggae and ragga freestyle caught everybody's attention.

Clutching a soda bottle in his left and a microphone in his right hand, he offloaded words like a music maestro. Other musicians that performed at the event include Vampino, Bella, Coco Finger, Denzel and Rocky Giant.

Strangely, Bebe Cool did not make any stage appearance despite being the most anticipated artiste of the night; I bet many must have left the event disappointed.

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InFocus

Rastafarians Celebrate Bob Marley's Birthday

Late Bob Marley

Bob Marley still lives on in the hearts and lives of reggae fans worldwide, as they celebrated the 68th anniversary of the late reggae icon's birth. Read more »