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Here’s Why Bob Marley Was Dangerous

The 1976 assassination attempt on the reggae legend’s life —widely believed to be politically motivated— was intended to kill, not scare Bob Marley, according to author Marlon James.


Marley was dangerous because he was trying to get poor Jamaicans to think for themselves, James said in an interview with Channel 4 News. But many Jamaicans were very uncomfortable with Marley, and the country was one of the last to embrace him as the freedom icon he became.

In the interview, James spoke about the contradictions of Jamaican political culture, the remnants of colonialism and being haunted by his country’s history of violence.

James’ novel about Bob Marley’s attempted assassination has been shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize. The novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, imagines what happened to the killers who got away.

“All of it is rumors,” he says. “In Jamaica, you trust rumors. You don’t trust facts. Facts come with an agenda.”