How Marley's lyrics freed the people of then-Rhodesia
Bob Marley and The Wailers’ release of “Survival” in 1979 marked a paradigm shift in the theme of their music. This album was a heavily militant ode to the unification of Africa and the people that lived there. One song in particular, “Zimbabwe,” went on to become the unofficial anthem of then-Rhodesian rebels attempting to claim their independence from Britain. The song was the war chant of a people fighting for their freedom and once that freedom was achieved, Bob Marley did something very special for the people of the newly created Zimbabwe…
Read on as we recount the time that Bob Marley paid thousands of dollars, at the peak of his career, to play a concert for Zimbabwe after gaining their independence in 1980.
“Zimbabwe” was the second track on the album Survival. A collection of Pan-African songs about unity and resistance. Bob’s message was clear on the song about Zimbabwe, which at the time had been in the throes of the Bush War for almost a decade.
Song of the People
“Zimbabwe” became an inspirational chant for revolutionary soldiers fighting for independence. The first verse reads:
Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny
And in this judgment there is no partiality
So arm in arms, with arms
We’ll fight this little struggle
‘Cause that’s the only way
We can overcome our little trouble
In 1980, Zimbabwe won its independence from colonist Britain and held their first independence day ceremony. Bob Marley, the voice behind their revolution, was asked to come and play.
Unfortunately the newly-formed country could not afford the $80,000 it would have cost to fly Bob Marley and The Wailers out for a show. Bob saw the importance of it, however, and footed the bill himself.