Bob Marley has been a cultural icon since his death at the age of 36
Tens of thousands of people converged on the capital of Ethiopia on Sunday for a concert to mark what would have been Bob Marley’s 60th birthday.
The concert was held in Meskal Square, Addis Ababa, in honour of the reggae legend who died in 1981.
Marley’s five sons, widow and former backup singers were on the lineup along with top African acts Angelique Kidjo, Baaba Maal and Youssou N’Dour.
It is the first time his birthday has been celebrated outside Jamaica.
Ethiopia, the birthplace of Rastafarianism, was chosen by Marley’s family to host the official event, and is organised by the Bob Marley Foundation, the UN children’s agency, the African Union and others.
Many of those who gathered for the concert wore t-shirts emblazoned with portraits of Marley or hand-bands and jewellery decorated with the Ethiopian national flag and Rastafarian colours of green, yellow and red.
Jamaican Love Stone Sound System
Jamaican Love Stone Sound System perform in Addis Ababa
Organisers were expecting as many as 300,000 people to attend the free event, which was dubbed Africa Unite.
Festivities began on Tuesday in what will be a month-long celebration.
Other highlights of the commemoration – which has been dubbed Africa Unite – include art and photography exhibitions to raise funds for Somali victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, a youth centre and a museum.
Marley, who was behind songs such as Exodus and One Love, won global stardom with his music and helped popularise the Rastafarian religion, which venerates the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.
Marley regarded Ethiopia as his spiritual home because of his religious beliefs.
His widow, Rita, said: “It has always been the wish of Bob Marley to return to Ethiopia and become a Rastafarian… and with the African Union, Addis Ababa is the capital of Africa and therefore a very symbolic place.”
She added that she wishes to rebury her husband, now interred in Jamaica, in the Ethiopian village community of Shashamene.
“It was a dream of Bob Marley and it is a dream of the family to bury him in Ethiopia,” she said.
“As we believe in what is to be, must be, it will happen in due course.”