Lisa Hanna, who represents St. Ann South East in the Jamaican Parliament, has reiterated calls to name legendary reggae musician Bob Marley as the nation’s eighth National Hero. Hanna made a motion in the House of Representatives that repeated her article in the Jamaica Observer newspaper, which is now part of the parliamentary records as a result of her motion.
Hanna described Bob Marley in her motion as an international “icon of peace, freedom, and love” and noted that his messages have inspired movements for social change that have shaped and continue to influence Black consciousness and given people the courage to oppose systems of injustice that target marginalized and dispossessed populations both around the world and in Jamaica. Marley’s activism for the poor prompted moves toward more progressive social policies affecting working-class Blacks in the 1970s, Hanna added, and he did so by promoting the acceptance of Jamaica’s reggae music and the island’s indigenous culture and practices of Rastafarianism.
Hanna went on to say that Bob Marley’s life and work contributed greatly to the recognition of Jamaica on the world stage, he also inspired the people of Jamaica to appreciate their own culture more fully. She noted that Marley’s song “One Love” has been translated into nearly every language in the world and that it was named “Song of the Millennium;” the 1977 Marley album “Exodus” was named the Best Album of the 20th Century.
Among his many honors, Marley received the “United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World” on behalf of some 500 Africans in 1978. She also noted his contributions to the world’s culture as a “poet, nationalist, humanist, and Africanist” and that statues of Marley have been erected in many places around the globe by people who already view him as a hero.
Hanna noted that the 1970 National Honors and Awards Order of National Hero Regulations includes the National Hero motto, “He built a city which as foundation” and that this clearly applies to Marley’s life and works. Therefore, her motion stated, “Be it resolved that this honorable House in Jamaica’s 60th year of independence, call on the Governor-General to take the necessary steps for the national honor of Order of National Hero to be conferred on the international crusader for peace, love and equality, a global superstar, the honorable Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley.”
Jamaica has conferred the honor of National Hero to seven individuals since 2015: Marcus Garvey, Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Nanny of the Maroons, and Sam Sharpe.
Renewed interest in designating Marley as a National Hero was prompted by the action of Barbados in 2021, which declared superstar singer and entrepreneur Rihanna as the nation’s 11th National Hero.