Miss Lou, Marley for national heroes says Ibo Cooper

Monday, February 14, 2011    

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CULTURAL icons Miss Lou — Louise Bennett-Coverley and Bob Marley are worthy of national hero status regardless of not shedding blood for the island, stated lecturer and musician Ibo Cooper.

Cooper, a former member of Grammy-nominated band Third World, is the latest to support calls to elevate Marley to hero status.

"Not all heroes have to shed blood. Because word, sound and power changes minds," stated Cooper lecturer at Edna Manley College on Wednesday night at the weekly free concerts produced by Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) for Reggae month/Black History month. "Ask the soldiers in Angola about the impact of Marley."

Earlier this month, Culture Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, announced intensions to advocate for the reggae singer to be declared a national hero. The order of national hero is Jamaica's highest honour.

"There is a big issue as to whether Bob and Louise should be national heroes, yet in Germany and Austria they would have no problem of calling Beethoven a hero," argued Cooper about the composer Ludwid von Beethoven who is lauded but not officially recognised as a hero, based on Observer checks.

However, other nations including Brazil and Barbados respectively have footballer Pele' born Edson Arantes do Nascimento and cricketer Garfield Sober as national heroes. Interestingly both are still living indicating their rapid rise into iconic status. Marley and Miss Lou are both dead but their respective legacy continues.

Grange told those gathered at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston (on the reggae icon's 66th birthdate celebration last week) that Marley was a "great Jamaican" and "supported the idea of making him a national hero."

Grange said lobbyists should formally present their case through letters and petitions and that she would advocate on their behalf. Marley holds Jamaica's Order of Merit, while Miss Lou holds the Order of Jamaica.

Miss Lou died on July 26 2006 in Scarborough, Canada aged 86. She was buried under a poinsettia tree at the National Heroes Park, beside her husband, Eric Coverley. She was poet, thespian and actress who more than any other legitimised the use of the local patois.

Marley, died in May 11, 1981 remains the king of reggae based on his continued chart dominance over contemporaries. He is currently ten times more popular than Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu, five times more than Shaggy and four times more than Sean Paul based on Google trend search data which analysed the most popular living reggae artistes. This popularity translates into chart dominance despite his passing nearly 30 years ago.

Marley's influence transcends the reggae category. Last year he was listed as a top-five global icon in a CNN International poll released, affirming the popularity of the late reggae star. The US-based news agency stated that the Jamaican-born musician's status was so large that he embodied a musical form and religion.

Jamaica's national heroes are Sir Alexander Bustamante; Norman Washington Manley; Paul Bogle; George William Gordon; Marcus Mosiah Garvey; Sam Sharpe and Nanny of the Maroons.




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