Throwback Thursdays: Bob Marley in Zimbabwe

Words by Jesse Serwer—

With the long-awaited documentary Marley hitting theaters tomorrow—and making history as the first movie to premiere simultaneously on Facebook—we thought we’d draw your attention to some footage that makes its way into one of the more interesting parts of the movie.

That would be video of Marley’s performance at Zimbabwe’s April 1980 independence celebrations. Things didn’t turn out so well. In an incident that foreshadowed the newly inaugurated Robert Mugabe’s chaotic (and ongoing) 32-year run as president, the concert was marred by a teargas incident which sent a number of Marley’s bandmates running offstage, with a high-on-adrenaline Marley performing through it as if nothing happened. (He’d later remark to his band, “now I really know who’s down for the cause.”)

Here’s a clip of natty dread mashing up “Zimbabwe” (a song which the film notes had been adopted as a rallying cry by Zimbabwean freedom fighters in the former Rhodesia’s run up to freedom) in Zimbabwe. Powerful stuff.

Look out for our interview with Marley director Kevin MacDonald tomorrow.