A statue of Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley was unveiled on Saturday in Addis Ababa Gerji area’s roundabout, long named after him. The bronze statue of the late Robert Nesta Marley, which shows him in a swaying movement, carrying his guitar, and his face covered by his dreadlocks was crafted by Ethiopian sculptor, Bizuneh Tesfa.
The new life-size statue was commissioned in occasion of the 70th birthday celebration by two brothers, the Ethiopian reggae singer Zeleke Gessese and music promoter, Addisu Gessese and a businessman Awad Mohamed.
Not everyone was aware of and appreciative of the Rasta man represented on the square. A Shopkeeper in the area said: “What has he done for Ethiopia to deserve a statue?”
Another passer-by by the name of Yuda, an English national, said, “The idea of a Bob statue is great, furthermore it’s not getting in anybody’s way. Bob was an influential figure. If we look at his primary purpose, it was reminding African Diasporas to return to their country of origin. He is not here in person. We are having his statue. It remind Ethiopians the historic link with biblical past.”
Kamil Nure, a Boston Day Spa employee (photographed below) said, “I find the statue a little strange. Where is his face? Probably I will change my mind when I get used to it. But for now I am not an enthusiast.”But Kamil stated he is not in any way against the statue. “I think it is a fair enough idea. Bob has a love for this country. But I would have preferred to see the statue of the Ethiopian singers first. There is no statue for Tilahun Gessesse, Beznuesh Bekele, Asnaketch Worku,” he said.
Asked about the form, an Addis-based painter said he is not impressed with the statue. “I am not happy that his face was hidden. It is hard to imagine a statute with no expression. Bob deserves recognition but I don’t think that this does him justice,” he said. The artist Bizuneh already did Karlheinz Böhm monument in Addis Ababa and Atse Tewdros’s in Gondar. Yuda, however defended the accusation saying that Bob Marley is famous and his face is everywhere. “I am more interested in what the statue represent than its form”.
Bob Marley believed Ethiopia was his spiritual home and considered Emperor Haile Selassie as divine figure. He often sang of a return to Africa and for the need for unity among all those who now lived, or originally came from Africa. But he never moved to Africa during his lifetime, although he did visit the continent for a memorable concert in 1980, soon before his death. He was baptized at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with baptismal name Berhane Selassie – “Light of the Trinity”.