Burning Spear “Man In the Hills”

Words: Martei Korley

As a testament to majestic nature of Jamaica’s mountains; Spear wrote his classic tune in 1976, immediately following his smash hit “Marcus Garvey”.

The hills(mountains) have always provided refuge for the marginalized in Jamaica: Runaway slaves called the maroons(really primarily Ashanti warriors who refused to ever give up their sovereignty) fought guerilla war with the British for a hundred years before forcing the crown to sign a peace truce; which, although often questioned today, presents a unique historical perspective.

The first Rasta Commune, Pinnacle, was located in the St. Jago hills on old plantation grounds(paid for, not squatted btw.). Even to this day many a Jamaican will head “inna di bush” for healing herbs, flowers or simply to commune with nature. The hills supply most of Jamaica’s drinking water and even shelters surrounding areas from hurricane impact because of a bounce-back effect. Many modern roots artist salute the heights and natural living in their lyrics as well. Sizzla for instance says “Woman gone a river cause she fiya burn di tub” in one of his songs. Sounds like Spears “My brother go to di river, to carry the water”. Nature is right outside your door in the hills. Can you blame Burning Spear for wanting to live there?

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