Marley, Manley discussed at UWI lecture

February 13, 2017
Bob Marley
Michael Manley

Dr David 'Dusty' Cupples, author of the novel Stir It Up: The CIA Targets Jamaica, Bob Marley and the Progressive Manley Government, was guest speaker at the 20th Annual Bob Marley lecture, hosted by the Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Reggae Unit of the University of the West Indies, Mona, recently.

Cupples believes "It's inconceivable that the CIA was not in Jamaica destabilising the Manley government."

"In 1976, Jamaica was the most important place in the world, in the eyes of the United States," Cupples said. He mentioned the crumbling of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall, the dictatorships of Latin America, the Soweto uprising, and the invasion of Angola.

"Babylon is not an abstract, floating cloud of injustice out there, but it is reality," he said. The reality manifested in the alleged intervention of the Central Intelligence Agency during the tumultuous political campaigns of the JLP and the PNP in the 1970s. "Here comes Michael Manley with his democratic socialism, buddying up to [Fidel] Castro, and refusing to bow to the United States. The idea that Jamaica [was] the most important place in the world suddenly doesn't seem so crazy," he quipped.

Formidable political figure

Amid the political turmoil, Cupples also addressed his concern with the treatment of Bob Marley in mainstream media. Considering mainstream media to be a primary medium of mass education, Cupples suggested that the impact of Marley as a formidable political figure was underserved.

"Nobody in the mainstream ever tries to figure out who or what Bob is fighting against," Cupples remarked. "The Marley film didn't say a thing about neo-liberal economics or the IMF (International Monetary Fund) or structural adjustment or free zones or the destablisation of the Manley government."

"The mainstream media is corporate media," Cupples continued. "Has the mainstream media taught us that Bob Marley is a great world hero and Babylon's system is a 'vampire, sucking the blood of the children, graduating thieves and murderers?," he said.With the understanding that general knowledge is disseminated through mainstream media, Cupples suggested that Marley is presented as a "freaky dread smoking weed" and as such, considers him vastly underrated. "For Bob, it wasn't about politics. You have Bob Marley telling you the truth. Bob is talking the truth to hundreds of millions. It was human decency."

"If we don't understand what Bob was fighting against as fully as possible, we don't understand the essence of the man as fully as possible," Cupples said.

"I love the modern roots, but when you're talking about the greatest ever, the Marley kids can't live up to that, and we can't ask them to live up to that. Nobody else is ever gonna do it, as far as I can tell," he concluded. 

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