Reggae in the world
WHEN Martijn Huisman decided to write a book on Bob Marley And The Wailers, his goal was to show readers the global impact of the legendary band “from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the frozen heights of the Himalayas in Nepal”. He accomplished this with The Reggae Nation: The World Legacy of Bob Marley & the Wailers.
Released on September 23, the 432-page book sees the Dutch author traveling to the major cities where Marley and his band introduced reggae, as well as remote areas where they did not perform but nonetheless have a growing following. because of the timeless music of their charismatic leader.
Huisman told the Jamaica Observer that the extensive work – a limited number of 500 copies are available – took him 10 years to complete.
“I started working on the project at the end of summer 2011. Quite naively, I expected that I would spend a few months on it. But, as I have consulted many sources of information and spoken to many knowledgeable people, months have turned into years and the scope of The reggae nation continued to expand, ”he said. “I’ve spent countless hours on the project, really a lot of my free time, over the years. But it was all worth it because my passion and dedication to music and culture kept me going. The music kept the fire burning and the book progressed, slowly but surely, ”Huisman added.
One of the revelations from the book is how Marley’s music appealed to Indigenous people. Huisman focuses on groups in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and the United States.
He also examined the role of the king of reggae in historical events such as the birth of Zimbabwe, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the riots in Tiananmen Square.
To mark Zimbabwe’s independence, Marley and The Wailers performed at the event in Harare in April 1980. 32 years ago, protesters at Berlin Wall in Germany and Tiananmen Square in China contested the status quo of his music.
“Native American tribes in the United States, Maori in New Zealand, aborigines in Australia, indigenous people in West Papua, indigenous ethnic groups in China…, the comfort, solidarity, support and strength to continue and to strengthen their struggles for dignity, freedom, justice, self-determination and (cultural) survival, ”Huisman said.
He added that “reggae won over them as a powerful and compelling expression of social and political resistance as well as cultural awakening. In the book we see how Bob Marley’s music was part of the birth of a nation (Zimbabwe), was played and sung by the people during notable historical events (the fall of the Berlin Wall, the protests of Tiananmen Square, the Contras War in Nicaragua, the Arab Spring), supported and amplified the voices of protest that called for an end to apartheid in South Africa, played a role in the political events of the nations (Jamaica , Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, to name a few), and contributed to youth movements and protests across Europe.
Huisman, originally from the city of Rotterdam, studied journalism at Erasmus University in his hometown. He started listening to reggae at the age of 10.
Eleven years ago while at Erasmus, Huisman directed a feature film titled Babylon by bus, based on Marley and The Wailers’ groundbreaking 1976 tour of the Netherlands. These shows were part of the 1977 album of the same name distributed by Island Records.