To recognize the power of protest music, acknowledge its role in keeping dissent alive and how musicians are translating today’s social issues and systemic problems into song, The Dissenter has decided to launch a daily feature that highlights a protest song every day.
It is an International Day of Peace today or World Peace Day. The day is supposed to be a day where everyone lays down the arms or weapons for at least one day and war and violence ceases for a moment.
The United Nations marks the day each year. The language on the UN’s website makes it seem like the world’s rulers and the global 1% intend to mark this day with a meeting on how to preserve capitalism in the face of great conflict and violence across the globe. The slogan is, “Sustainable Peace…from Sustainable Development…for a Sustainable Future”—coded language that means one thing to a rich person on one continent and another thing to a poor person on a different continent. Is this a day to preserve peace for profit or peace for humanity?
Legendary reggae musician Bob Marley said, “I don’t really have no ambition you know. I only have one thing I’d really like to see happen. I’d like to see Mankind live together. Black, white, Chinese, everyone. That’s all.”
The music of Bob Marley & the Wailers was the music of peace. There’s an unforgettable moment in Marley, a documentary film released this year, that shows Marley and his band in 1978 playing a peace concert in Jamaica to stop the political violence tearing up the country. Marley brings the two leaders of the factions that are warring, Michael Manley—leader of then-ruling People’s National Party, and Edward Seaga (leader of the opposing Jamaica Labor Party)—up on stage and they touch each other’s hands. It is a fearless and humanitarian act that demonstrates to tens of thousands of people present those who have told them to fight each other can be peaceful.
At this concert, Marley & the Wailers played, “War.” Not only a song for peace but also equality and an end to racism, the song opens with the lyrics:
Until the philosophy which hold one race superior/And another/Inferior/Is finally/And permanently/Discredited/And abandoned/Everywhere is war
It was a song against colonialism in Africa and the song carried resonance in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It was played by Bob Marley & the Wailers at the Amandla Festival in Boston in 1979, a festival organized for the liberation of southern Africa. And it was a song for world peace.
Here’s the song:
The Dissenter will be putting one of these up every weekday morning. If you have suggestions for songs that should be featured or if you recorded a song you think should be featured, email email@example.com.