Bob Marley – Redemption Song

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Redemption Song – Bob Marley

There aren’t many songs or artists for that matter, whose music and messages have stood for something much more than music to dance or sing along to. Bob Marley’s Redemption Song was written c.1979 and was part-inspired by a speech by Marcus Garvey. Although much more can be said about the man, his music and this song in particular, in this case, the lyrics say it all.

Redemption Song

Old pirates, yes, they rob I,
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.

But my ‘and was made strong
By the ‘and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but our self can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just a part of it,
We’ve got to fulfill de book.

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but our self can free our mind.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall dey kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just a part of it,
We’ve got to fulfill de book.

Won’t you help to sing,
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever had,
Redemption songs.
All I ever had,
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom

Watch the great man sing and play it here

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Toussaint L’Ouverture

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Toussaint L’Ouverture (20 May 1743 – 7 April 1803)

The Atlantic Slave Trade lasted from around the 16th century through to the 19th century. Although much emphasis is placed on the efforts people like Rosa Parks, Olaudah Equiano and Marcus Garvey who helped to end not only slavery, but bring equality, there were people and events which preceded some of the most courageous people celebrated in Black History.
There were the Maroons in Jamaica, led by Nanny, who was born of the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, who helped to free slaves and took control over much of the hilly inlands of Jamaica. Marcos Xiorro was an African slave who led a revolution in 1821 in Puerto Rico. There were also a few different slave revolutions in Mâle, Brazil in 1835. Arguably the most successful slave rebellion in the Americas was led by a man named Toussaint L’Ouverture.

L’Ouverture was born in the country then called Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and was freed from slavery at the age of 33 in 1776. He continued to work but was able to acquire property and some wealth, due to his increased responsibilities as a driver and work force organiser. When the revolution began in 1791, he was placed in charge of a small band of rebels and negotiated with the French Governor to stop the use of whips, and an extra non working day amongst other things. These demands were not met, and the rebels started to increase their alliance with the Spanish. After many years of fighting and treaties with Britain and the US in 1798, L’Ouverture was captured, sent to France and died in 1803, a year before Haiti declared independence and abolished slavery.

These achievements are not to be taken lightly. Haiti was the wealthiest of all the Caribbean colonies in 1789, producing 60% of the world’s coffee and 40% of the worlds sugar. Haiti gained its independence almost 160 years before other Caribbean islands like Guyana and Barbados. In other words, this was not a colony which had no significance. How then has Haiti, along with other Caribbean islands with vast resources, become so poor in the 200 years since independence? It seems as though the UK, France and Spain continue to benefit, almost as though independence and the abolition of slavery signalled a change of oppression rather than an end to it. Has slavery ever really ended?

The Black Poor of London

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150 years before Marcus Garveys plan for people of African ancestry in the diaspora to return to Africa, there were a group of Blacks based in London who managed to do just that.

In the 18th century, The Black Poor were a group of people living in London, who for different reasons, were unable find work or who simply couldn’t find it. They generally lived around Covent Garden, the East End and Marlybone, and Eliabeth I on more than one occasion referred to the ‘great numbers of negars and blackamoors’ she wanted to be deported. God save the Queen. The funny thing is, they actually weren’t all Black. Originally, the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor was set up for Lascars (Indian sailors) who were sometimes abandoned in England by the East India Company. In 1786, The Committee found that there were about 250 Black and Indian people who needed help and some of the most prominent figures of London’s financial elite began to plan. Ironically, these abolitionists and members such as Thomas Boddington and John Angerstein, while raising money for aid, were themselves slave owners and benefited from the slave trade.

Whether it was in an effort to remove Blacks and Indians from London, or a purely altruistic endeavour, on 9th April 1787, 3 ships left Portsmouth bound for Sierra Leone. Even Olaudah Equiano was employed to help arrange supplies for the long journey. They arrived on May 5th and their descendents are called the Krio, and make up approximately 4% of Sierra Leone’s population.

#UKIP