Africa Unite ~ A Celebration of Bob Marley's Vision
February 10, 2008
|Label||Palm Pictures / Tuff Gong Pictures|
|Format||DVD - Region 1|
|Languages||Patois / English|
|Subtitles||Hardcoded English subtitles|
|Length||164 minutes (approx.)|
The DVD 'Africa Unite - A Celebration Of Bob Marley's Vision is a singular and masterfully executed film by Stephanie Black (Life & Debt) that is at once concert tribute, Marley family travelogue, and humanitarian documentary, igniting the screen with the spirit of world-renowned reggae icon Bob Marley in its every frame. In commemoration of Bob's 60th birthday, Africa Unite is centered on the Marleys' first-time-ever family trip to Ethiopia in 2005. There in the capital city of Addis Ababa three generations of Marleys take part in a 12-hour concert attended by more than 300,000 people from around the world, with the ultimate purpose of inspiring the young generations of Africa to unite for the future of their continent. The 2005 concert was the realization of an ambitious vision of unity building that Bob preached about when he himself performed his historic 1980 Zimbabwe concert. The Africa Unite foundation, founded by the Marley family to promote pan-Africanism, organized the week-long celebration and sponsored the attendance of students from African countries like Ghana and Kenya as well as Rastas from the countryside of Jamaica for a conference and continuing dialogue.
The Africa Unite Foundation held its 4th Annual Conference in Kingston on Bob Marley's birthday February 6, 2008. The film "Africa Unite" made its premiere in Jamaica during the conference, and the DVD of the film came available for wide release in early February. The DVD offers almost three hours of entertainment. Main feature is the Addis Ababa concert with fabulous music and the sheer excitement of the crowd. Snippets of Bob's original music, interspersed at key moments, underscore Africa's historical triumphs and tragedies. Even the title of the movie comes from Bob's song of the same name, included on his 1979 album 'Survival' and regarded as his most political work. The song is heard throughout the film: it accompanies Marley's sons as they arrive in Ethiopia, it plays as Rita proclaims, "all of Africa is my home," and is further highlighted in a climactic rendition by Marley's sons and daughters.
Four of songs of the 'Uprising' album are featured in "Africa Unite." We and Dem underlines the film's depiction of the cultivation then preparation for export of two of the continent's chief crops, cocoa and coffee. Coming In From the Cold is heard as African youth who participated in the Africa Unite symposium engage in a football match and as the Marley brothers travel to the Ethiopian Rastafarian settlement known as Shashamane. Forever Loving Jah plays as the camera takes in various sights within Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa and a vigorous reworking of Could You Be Loved, courtesy of Bob's sons Ziggy, Stephen, Damian, Julian and Ky-Mani as well as daughters Cedella and Sharon crowns the concert finale. The upbeat, danceable groove of the original 1980 release of Could You Be Loved pulsed in alignment with the dominant disco beat of the era. As a result, it garnered airplay on US urban stations including New York City's highly influential WBLS FM. Furthermore we are treated on Ky-Mani's version of two of Bob's most defiant songs: Crazy Baldhead and Rebel Music. Julian offers an inspiring interpretation of No More Trouble; Stephen and Ziggy lead a rousing rendition of what is now a universal anthem of insurrection Get Up Stand Up and Damian helms an updated, dancehall flavored arrangement of War. The song was based on a speech Ethiopian Emperor His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I delivered to the United Nations in 1963. Bob took the Emperor's words and reworked them into his own plea for peace: "until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes, mi say war." Studio One veteran and living legend Bob Andy performs his immortal tune I've Got to Go Back Home. Bob spent two weeks in Kenya, before travelling to Addis Ababa, arriving just before the Africa Unite concert.
One of the most moving parts of the DVD is the journey of Ras Bongo Tawney, a Jamaican Rastafarian, to Ethiopia. He's a 73 year-old spiritual warrior who has lived the tenets of the faith long before it became synonymous with reggae-- in fact, long before reggae was even created. During his Ethiopian sojourn, Tawney also visited Shasamane, a small town about 150 miles south of Addis Ababa. Shasamane gained international attention in the African Diaspora when His Majesty granted 500 acres of its fertile land as a gift to the Black people of the West in 1948. Today Shashamane represents the largest settlement of Jamaicans and other Caribbean expatriates, predominantly Rastafarians, within Africa.
The bonus features include appearances by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador/actor Danny Glover, world music sensation and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo, Bob Marley's mother Mrs. Booker, and Princess Mary, granddaughter of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, a photo gallery, interviews with the Marley brothers & Rita Marley and archival Bob Marley footage, New York City 1980.
Born in Ethiopia in 2005, and again realized in Ghana in 2006, the now annual Africa Unite event came to life from the unwavering passion and spirit of Mrs. Rita Marley. Mrs. Marley and her family are inspired to spread the spirit and legacy of Bob Marley, continuing to bring life to his Songs of Freedom and to actively work towards a united Africa in their lifetime. The Africa Unite events have begun a global movement that creates awareness for vital issues affecting Africa, as well as for realizing important and meaningful change that will contribute to lasting solutions. Through a series of benefit concerts, symposiums, fund raisers and events, Africa Unite will encourage peace, education and empowerment for youth in Africa while working to manifest change throughout the world.
This DVD has made an overwhelming impression on us. It's the mix of fantastic music, archival footage of Bob Marley and Haile Selassie, the uplifting footage of the students and Ras Bongo Tawney's story that totally grabs you. We are also very pleased that the DVD has a positive feel about Africa and its future, because we (here in Europe) only get to see the war, poverty, misery and crime of that beautiful continent.