Smile Jamaica festival witnessed the greatest testament of Bob Marley’s message of peace and love.
December 3, 1976 — Hope Road, Kingston, Jamaica
Smile Jamaica was a free festival/concert to be held by Prime Minister Michael Manley at the National Heroes Park in Kingston, Jamaica. Bob Marley was scheduled to perform at the festival, and even though it was a highly anticipated event that year, not many expected Marley to show up.
Two days before the festival, Bob Marley was shot in his home. Located on Hope Road, gunmen assaulted the ‘No Woman, No Cry’ singer. Along with Marley, his wife Rita and his manager were also shot at and sustained injuries. Known as one of the most infamous assassination attempts, many assumed that it was apolitical feud that led to this attack. Ironically, Smile Jamaica was promoted to ease tension between supporters of the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) and the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Leslie Miles, a journalist for the Daily News, witnessed and reported the attack in this article, saying,
“Some guys were running back from the house and I think they were the ones who shot into the car and shot Rita in her head and her blood splashed on the back of my shirt. By that time, wi had to bend down into the front of the car. Wi bend down as low as we could get under the bonnet of the car from inside the car.”
(Image Courtesy: 18karatreggae.com)
After the gunfire ceased, all those who were injured were taken to University Hospital of the West Indies. This incident was the headline of newspapers for many days to come. Bob Marley survived injuries caused by the shooting, and two days later, was seen at the Smile Jamaica festival, greeting his fans.
(Image Courtesy: bobmarley.es)
December 5 — National Heroes Park, Kingston, Jamaica
Bob Marley performed his most iconic festival set that evening, known today as one of the greatest moments in music festival history. He joined hands of two opposing parties and demonstrated his message of peace and love beautifully. Bob Marley lived another five years, before his mysterious death. There is a reason why the Jamaican people, along with the rest of the world, harbour so much love for this man, even today. He was later asked why he did what he did and this is what he had to say,
“The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?”
(Image Courtesy: bobmarley.com)