A play in two acts by Bernie Dowling
The following play is copyright as the intellectual property of Bernie Dowling, also identified in the manuscript as B. D. and hence ©B. D.
It may not be performed or copied in part or its entirety without the express and written permission of its author, Bernie Dowling.
Bernie Dowling, February 2006.
I WANT to acknowledge the later editions of Timothy White’s Catch a Fire: the Life of Bob Marley, Henry Holt and Co., New York, for much of the biographical material on the three core members of the Wailers: Marley, Tosh and Bunny Wailer.
Readers might be asking themselves why the drama is not called Marley: the Musical and I trust some members of any theatre company performing the play are pondering this question.
On the title, I only offer that naming the play after Peter Tosh was a considered decision.
I wrote the play in Jamaican Rasta patois to progress the audience from being disoriented by the language at play’s beginning to identifying with the characters.
A journalist friend of mine said when Bob Marley came to Australia in the 1970s, many journalists could understand little of what he was saying at his first press conference.
Of course, people, such as the Tosh, Wailer and Marley,from an underclass have long used lingo, patois or argot, call it what you like, as a protective delineation of their friends and enemies.
― Bernie Dowling, 2006.
Bunny Livingston Wailer
Lee “Scratch” Perry
Police Officer 1
Police Officer 2
The set is limited only by the imagination of the designer and the budget. The entire auditorium could be part of the set, with the ceiling representing “heaven”, the floor “hell” and the walls “earth”. Mosaics are created with tiles, linoleum, canvas, lead light windows and …….
Some of the possible symbols of heaven are Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, Cairo, the Great Pyramid and scripture and epigrams:
1. “They shall not make baldness upon their head”
2. “Look to Africa for the crowning of a Black king.
He shall be the Redeemer”
─ Rev. James Morris Webb
3. I and I ─ Rasta philosophy
4. “He causeth the grass for the cattle and the Herb for the service of man”
─ Psalms 104:14
5. “Ital” ─ pure, natural─ Rasta diet which bans alcohol, tobacco, red meat, salt, sugar, crustaceans, scavenging sea life, scaleless fish and snails.
6. And the Word was made God
Symbols of Hell could be Ancient Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, Mussolini (for invading Ethiopia, the homeland of the one true God, Haile Selassie) and hence perhaps some futuristic art such as Ernesto Pramolini’s stage set for Bartok’s Marvelous Mandarin; Oliver Cromwell (first wave of British Imperialism), Queen Victoria (great wave of British Imperialism); Ronald Reagan (the Antichrist to many Rastafarians ─ R.O.N.A.L.D WI.L.S.O.N R.E.A.G.A.N = 666)
(Symbols of Earth could be: Giacomo Balla’s Mercury Before the Sun, Seen Through a Telescope, for futurist balance and it has a seventies rock ‘n’ roll look about it. If stained glass windows are used they should represent ‘looking to England’ e.g. Burne Jones’s King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid for its lack of sensuality; Hadrian’s wall as a symbol of exclusion; Stonehenge as a clash of religions; the Great Exhibition of 1851; Water Rouse’s Lady of Shalott; Blake’s illustration of Paradise Lost, St Pancras station (as a symbol of travel and grandeur.)
Graffiti representing earth might include:
I lov Rita.
me and Cindy Brakespear was reiling las’ night.
Reggae live, mon.
Rasta don’t work for nuh CIA.
Di Lion of Judea will break every chain an’ give us di victory again;
My duty is to make music,
Liberation before Repatriation.
You an African,
Marcus Garvey lives.
JLP, PNP (Jamaican political parties.)
More sheggin’, Rude Boy, shanking all night,
Me going to Englan’.
Shoot all Rastas.
Duma and Dundu.
‘Skill’ Cole (soccer player) better than Pele.
plus graphic representations of some of the above.
Posters representing earth could include
August 5 1962: Jamaican Independence Day.
1966 Selassie’s visit.
One Love Concert April 22, 1978.
April 18 1980, Independence Celebration.
Much of the back stage is a broken down brick wall of a Trenchtown slum. A one- string guitar is weighed down by two bricks dangling from steel rods embedded in the wall. Makeshift percussion instruments, tubs, garbage tin lids, pieces of wood, are in front of the guitar. To the left of centre is a room which will become Rita’s house, Johnny Brown’s hotel, the police station and Coxonne Dodd’s disco and house.
(Rita Marley sits slumped in front of the one-string guitar, amid the makeshift percussion instruments. One large tub carries the message: “Giv di drumma sum”
A poster extols
Bunny Neville O’Riley Livingston Wailer
23 April 1947 ─
In whitewash across the cracked wall are scrawled the messages. Jah Live. Marley Live. Tosh Lives. ).
RITA: Bunny is the last one left to tell their story. They called themselves the Wailers. Bunny and me Rita Marley are left to wail. First Bob went, then Peter. I loved them all, even Bunny though he was a little strange at times.
(Points to wall, contemplative and reverts to patois)
Bunny nuh believe in such a t’ing as dyin’ and he live on. Wailers live. Jah live sometime, me t’ink so. Rita Marley Foundation t’ink so.
Ot’ertime? (She gestures despair) Me godda watch fe Duppy demon, nuh. Shedda-catcher wan’ muh shedda. (Rita makes to clutch her shadow). In di begin, nuh Duppy, nuh downpresser mon ketch di Wailers. Dey too fast.
(Instrumental chorus to Stir It Up as scene fades).
(Coxonne Dodd is perched behind his R&B sound system, but the audience only hears him as the lights are down.)
COXONNE DODD: Dis is Coxonne Dodd speaking to di breddahs and sistas from di R & B sound system. Me got di beat te feed da heat. (Lights) Welcome to da 1964 All Champion Night Talent Show. In a while, we’s gonna hear our last ac’, de Wailin’ Wailers. Dat’s right, de Wailers, and dey’s got a message for you rude bwoys out deh. Dey reckon you gotta simmer down. But firs’, we gonna simmer up with another of the lates’ tracks from the US and Englan’ cos’ Coxonne’s your mon. An’ here a home town sista dat’s shekkin’ up di world. Tek ut sista Millie.
(Lights dim as Coxonne slips on Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” In keeping with the feel of 60’s disco, lights travel from Coxonne Dodd to highlight various aspects of the heaven, earth and hell of the auditorium. As song finishes, lights go up).
DODD: Dat was our very own Millie Small. And now….
(Wailing Wailers run on to the stage, without instruments, and wearing glittering suits)
BUNNY WAILER: Me Neville Livingston but yuh know me as Bunny Wailer
TOSH: Me Winston McIntosh, but if dat too hard fe yuh, jes’ call me Petah Tosh. Uh jes’ t’ought of dat name.
MARLEY: Me Robert Marley and we’s di Wailin’ Wailers. Yuh know dis song, cause so many of yuh has got di disc. Like Coxonne says, dis a message for rude bw bwoys, cos di streets of Trenchtown, dem streets might nah be much, but dey’s all we got. Don’ worry where dat music comes from. Dat ours too.
(The Wailing Wailers do a ska version of Simmer Down. When song finishes the Wailers wave and begin to walk off).
COXONNE DODD: The judge’s verdic’. Dat was quick. Nah much doubt about da winners. (The Wailing Wailers stand their ground.) Breddahs an’ sistas, di 1964 champion of champions is (shocked) di Uniques.
(The Wailers go to collect their award, until the decision dawns on them. Bunny is first to Dodd and looms over him).
BUNNY WAILER: What dat? You get us dese t’reads. Mek us up like batty bwoys. Den you say dat.
(Dodd is worried. He tries a joke).
DODD: Nah me, breddah. Des t’ings happen. Like da song say, simmer down, Bunny.
(Bob is the next down Dodd’s throat. Tosh, the tallest of the three stands a little aloof with the wry smile of inverse superiority over injustice, and shakes his head).
MARLEY: Don’ yuh say simmer down. Wailers di best fockin’ harmony group a Kingston.
VOICE (from offstage): Geddoff. We’s da winners. Uniques da best.
MARLEY (Pointing off stage to Uniques): Wailin’ Wailers di best fockin’ harmony a Kingston. an’ who di best at t’rowing partner? (He shadow boxes.) An’ who di best wit’ ratchet? (Marley pulls out a finger long blade, “ratchet”)
TOSH: Yuh di best, Nesta. Onuh one way fi get wha’ belong te Wailers. Dat fi tek ut.
(Wailers rush from stage followed by Dodd. Fight heard offstage and there are sharp whistle blows. Policeman I and policeman 2 who have been standing at back of auditorium all along, rush on to and through stage to join stoush offstage).
(A young Rita Marley in a nurse’s uniform walks casually onto stage from left).
RITA: Weren’ dem young Wailin’ Wailers somet’ing? But dey’s left a lot of mendin’ fi be done. (She winces as white picket fence posts are thrown on stage. Rita picks up a post). Lot of mendin’ fi be done.
(She places fence post in bracket already on stage, and goes to pick up another. Then eyes microphone. She sings “Fussin’ and Fighting” as she alternately creates picket fence and waves weapon. As song finishes, she goes behind fence to close door to her “house” and stands in front yard.
WOMAN’S VOICE (from inside house): Rita, come inside.
(Wailers enter. They are still wearing the clothes from the previous night, but they are all torn.)
(Rita runs her hands through her hair and moistens her lips with her tongue when she sees The Wailers approaching).
MARLEY: We gotta stay outa dem cells. One night enuf fe me.
TOSH (teasing): Nuff fe Tuff Gong.
BOB: Me Tuff Gong a di streets. Dat nuff fe me.
BUNNY: (pushing out his tatty shirt with both hands) Leas’ Dodd’s t’reads almos’ di joint.
(They all laugh as they approach Rita’s house. Rita has moved to the footpath. She calls to them).
RITA: Yuh dem rude bwoys. You dem Wailin’ Wailers.
(Bob and Bunny ignore Rita and talk between themselves. Peter’s eyes light up. He strides up to Rita.)
TOSH: What dat, sista?
RITA: Yuh dem rude bwoys. Dem Wailers. (Shakes head). Yuh don’ look too rude.
TOSH: Say we go inna ya house. See how rude Winston McIntosh is.
RITA: What yuh goin’ fi do? Bust all di place up.
TOSH: Me more a sheggah dan a fightah.
(Bob and Bunny have passed Tosh and Bob turns around annoyed to say “C’mon Peter”).
RITA (looking Tosh up and down): I cyan see dat. Or at least di half of ut, ’bout nah bein’ a fightah.
VOICE (from inside house): Rita, come inside. Don’ yuh go messin’ with dem Rasta bwoys.
BUNNY (yelling to inside house): We aren’ nuh Rastas.
BOB: Nuh rude bwoys neit’er.
TOSH: Yuh don’ won’ fi be seen wit’ di like of us in daylight. Bes’ me come back aftah dark.
RITA: I’ll see yuh Wailin’ Wailers when di time come.
(She smiles and goes inside. Peter smirks and catches up with the other two).
Lights fade as band plays “Stir it Up”. House becomes Coxonne Dodd’s recording studio during song, with Wailers and Rita moving equipment and Dodd placing sign, Dodd’s R&B Sound Studio. All except Rita and Bunny leave.)
(An irate Rita Marley with a note in her hand challenges Bunny Wailer).
RITA: Dis some kinda joke, Bunny?
BUNNY: Me don’ know what ut say, Rita. Nesta, he tell me nah fi look.
RITA: Det Bob Marley. He say he love me. Det some kinda joke. Him suppose fi help me an’ Soulettes. All he do is mek fun and fussin’. Him slave driver.
BUNNY (irate too): Me dip in muh own business, sista. But don’ call Nesta slave driver. Anuhbudy call Bunny Wailer slave driver, dey’s for ut. Don’ yuh call Bob such a t’ing neit’er.
RITA: Me shouldna say dat. And dis nuh joke?
(Bunny shrugs his shoulders and Rita smiles).
RITA; Yuh tell Bob…
BUNNY: Tell Nesta nut’ing. Yuh tell Nesta.
RITA (folding up note, softly): Me do dat.
(Lights fade to Stir It Up chorus.)
(When lights return, Rita sits on side of bed beside cot of Sharon, 18 months. Bob Marley enters).
RITA: I jes’ got one t’ing to say to yuh, Bob Marley.
BOB: Wat dat, sista?
(Rita sings It’s Alright as in 1966 single on Rio label. Bob plays with Sharon and lights highlight posters of Marley family around auditorium).
(Lights fade to black as Rita’s house becomes Coxonne Dodd’s studio. Strains of It’s Alright are punctured by an almighty thump on Dodd’s table. Lights reveal Peter Tosh menacing Coxonne Dodd who is behind his desk and trying to portray cool)
TOSH: What yuh mean, Coxonne, play seshun till Bob come back.
(He thumps table.)
Me a Wailin’ Wailer, jest dat, a Wailer. Don’ won’ nuh more, nuh less.
COXONNE DODD: Marley’s gone te America a year. People, dey soon wake up we been fillin’ in ot’er people on dem records.
TOSH: Ut was your dumb idea call us Bob Marley and di Wailing Wailers. What him bigger dan di governmen’. We Wailers. Equal. Like dem Rastas say: I and 1.
COXONNE DODD: You wit’ dem Rastas, Winston?
TOSH: Me wit’ nobody. Me wit’ di Wailers. But it like dem Rastas say: I and I. Ev’ruhbudy equal. Me and Bunny and Bob. All equal. I and I and I.
COXONNE DODD: Time was yuh was telling ev’ruhbudy Winston McIntosh was di leader a di Wailers.
TOSH: Don’ bring dat up Dodd. Dat in past. Dat rude bwoy talk. Ut always I and 1.
COXONNE DODD: Yuh, well one of yuh t’ree eyes is missing. Way I see it, other two eyes dryin’ up.
TOSH: Yuh a liar Dodd. Bunny him got Dancin’ Shoes, me I got I’m the Toughest Together, me and Bunny got Rude Boy Get Bail. Dancin’ Shoes already winner. Ot’ers be winners too.
(Bunny Wailer enters)
BUNNY: Hey Winston, what’s all dis trowin’ partner?
TOSH:(still furious:) Dodd wan’ me play keyboard on someone else record.
(Bunny grabs Dodd)
BUNNY WAILER: Yuh mot’erfocker, Dodd. Firs’ yuh try fi kill di Wailin’ Wailers. Den yuh mek me and Winston slaves. Yuh trash, Dodd. Dat all, trash.
DODD (stands up): Ge da fock outa muh office.
(Dodd pushes Bunny’s hand aside. As usual he is wearing his flashy side gun).
DODD: Yuh never work a Kingston again. Yuh sleep a di gutters a Kingston.
(Dodd’s hand moves toward his gun).
TOSH: ( smiling to Bunny): Wat di downpressor mon gonna do, Bunny?: What Coxonne gonna do wit’ dat gun, Bunny? Coxonne Dud, me t’ink. Coxonne Dud with dat one inch cock gonna shoot us bot’ dead, Bunny.
BUNNY: C’mon Mr Dud. Shoot me. Shoot me. Wha’, nuhbudy clean di rifle lately?
DODD: Me call da police. Yuh better nah be here when dey come.
BUNNY: C’mon. Shoot me dead. At least det one fire, don’ it, Mr Dud?
TOSH: Ooo, di downpressor mon gonna call his bad men.
(Dodd rings and talks into the phone. Tosh goes near phone and yells).
TOSH: Better mek dat six. Deh’s two crazy rude bwoys here and Mr Dodd’s gun don’ seem fi be working.
BUNNY: Yuh di toughest, Winston. Bedda mek dat 12 bad men wit’ uniforms. Uh’ll shank all over five with me dancing shoes. Why dis mon jes’ don’ shoot us?
TOSH: We’s still staff of the downpressor mon. Nuh good fe business fi shoot staff. Differen’ matter nex’ week when we be slaves. Den, him shoot us.
DODD: Da police, dey come. Dis is your last chance.
TOSH: We wait. Time soon come for di downpressor mon.
(Band plays Downpressor Man and, as Tosh said, policeman 1 and policeman 2 soon come. During Downpressor Man, Bunny and Peter threaten and ridicule Dodd and police officers in pantomime. As the song finishes, Bunny and Tosh walk out on Dodd and police. Bunny holds up Tosh’s hand as if Peter were the world heavyweight champ). (Darkness.)
(Lights reveal Rita and Bunny at one end of a room and Bob Marley at the other end. Rita is on the phone to Bob)
BOB: Winston deh?
RITA (hanging up): Nuh, Winston couldnah come. As Uh wa’ saying, Bob, Uh was nex’ te Rasta Fari, Haile Selassie of Et’iopia. 100, 000 people and Uh’m nex’ te him.
BOB: Winston nah deh? It suppose fi be arranged.
RITA: Bunny here, yuh speak to him soon. But Uh gotta tell yuh, Nesta. Yuh know how di Rastas say King Selassie, him di Lion of Judea, Negusa Negasi, di livin’ God.
BOB(distracted): Yeah, me hear all dat. W’at about Winston?
RITA: And dey say he got di marks from di crucifixion, di stigmas. Uh ask Haile Selassie if he di true God. Deh me am out of 100,000 people in front of di car.
BOB: Me don’ know about messin’ with dem Rastas. Look at what di police do te dem Rastas in Dungle di other day. Dey burn dem to the groun’.
RITA: But Bob yuh gotta listen. Ras Tafari, Emperor Haile Selassie him put up his hand fi wave. Me see di scars of di crucifix nails. And him nod. He di true God, Bob. Me know. Bunny and Winston, dey startin’ to know. Yuh gotta reason wit’ di Rastas when yuh come back, Bob.
BOB: Uh don’ know Rita. Dat Rasta t’ing strange.
RITA: Bob, remember when me ketch science fer yuh, when Uh ketch Big Fraid from the Duppy demon fe yuh. Me nuh say nuh science, nuh Fraid, nuh Duppy. Me help you conquer Duppy. Yuh reason wit’ di Rastas fe me.
(Bunny enters and Rita points to phone.)
(Rita reasons with Bob over the phone and in person as the Universal Ethiopian Anthem is performed. See the Internet or this play’s epilogue for the words. It is advisable to change the colours in the song to the Red, the Gold and the Green which are considered the three Rasta colours. The song can be performed a cappella, with a new arrangement or search the Internet for some music. Song ends with Bob and Rita returning to their respective phones.)
BOB: Me reason a little, Uh promise. Winston deh?
RITA: Winston cyannah come. Bunny here. Me put him on.
BUNNY: Hey Nesta, yuh rich mon in America yet?
BOB: Don’ call me Nesta, nuh more, Bunny. Det kid’s stuff. What det Winston McIntosh got yuh up to?
BUNNY: What yuh mean, Nesta, er Bob?
BOB: What Winston got yuh do det Rude Boy Get Bail stuff fe?
BUNNY: Det our song, Bob. Don’ yuh like ut?
BOB: Like nuh matter. Dem police, dey shoot you fockin’ dead, Bunny. And Winston him doin’ somet’ing about him being the toughest.
BUNNY: Dose good songs, Bob. Don’ yuh worry about dem police. Dey jes’ batty bwoys pretendin’ to be bad men. We di Wailers, Bob. I and 1. Dem Wailin’ Wailers songs. Di music biggah dan dem police.
BOB: Yuh lissen te me, Bunny, and yuh tell Winston. Yuh bot’ watch out or dem police gonna shoot yuh fockin’ dead. Yuh tell dat te Winston too. Me come back soon. Yuh take care till den.
BUNNY: Dat good, Bob. I t’ree toget’er. Don’ yuh worry. Nuhbudy touch Bunny Wailer.
(Lights reveal teenager Dennis Lobban, handcuffed behind his back and standing in the dock, with his back to the audience. The judge is only a bombastic voice from a light shining above. The voice is of a white Englishman.)
JUDGE’S VOICE: Dennis Lobban, you are still a teenager but this will be the last chance you get before a Jamaican court. You’re a big lump of a lad who should be able to make his way in the world with honest toil. Mr Lobban I place you on 24-months probation. God help you if you are back before me within two years. Take Master Lobban to the cells while the paper work is prepared. Next.
(Policeman 1 and policeman 2 take Lobban away and return with Bunny Wailer who argues silently with the bright light and reasons with the audience in the court. The band plays Dancing Shoes. A judge’s gavel pounding ends the discussion and the song.)
JUDGE’S VOICE: Neville O’Riley Livingston. The court has heard the evidence and herewith gives its decision. You claim at the time of your arrest that you were merely relaxing and talking on the street with friends. You further claim that you had no marijuana in your possession.
BUNNY: Nuh ganja.
JUDGE’S VOICE: Don’t interrupt. This is in accord with police evidence that you had placed the drugs in a rubbish bin when you saw the officers come towards you and your co-defendants, who, as you know, have both been acquitted.
BUNNY: Lots of people aroun’. Nuhbudy see nuh ganja, cause deh was nuh ganja.
JUDGE’S VOICE: I am satisfied that you had no marijuana on you when you were arrested by police. (Bunny nods in satisfaction). I am satisfied that the reason reason you had no marijuana on your possession was because you had in fact placed the drug in the rubbish bin which accords with the police statements before the court.
BUNNY WAILER: Nuh truth. Lies. Nuh truth.
JUDGE’S VOICE: Be quiet Mr Livingston or you will face further charges. Mr Livingston. I am informed that you are a popular musician, Mr Livingston, and you perform under the alias of Bunny Wailer. You are a member of a rock ‘n’ roll band called the Wailing Wailers.
BUNNY: Jes’ di Wailers. We’s jes di Wailers dese days. Ev’rybudy know dat.
JUDGE’S VOICE (sarcastic): I thank you for your correction, Mr Livingston, and for your information about the universality of your fame. The court has doubts as to the validity of the latter claim that everyone knows The Wailers. I do however concede that you bear an influence, some might say an undue influence, on our youth. I have this in mind in passing sentence. In troubled times such as ours, some aspire to the responsibility of leading our youth. In sentencing you, I make a judgement on how you have borne such responsibility. On the charge of possession of a prohibited substance, to wit, cannabis sativae, or more commonly marijuana, I sentence you, Neville O’Riley Livingston, also known as Bunny Wailer, to two years’ imprisonment, with no parole period.
BUNNY: Yuh cyan nah convic’. Yuh no bredduh; yuh Babylonian. Like dem Rastas say.
JUDGE’S VOICE: Take him away. Next case.
(Policemen I and 2 come up to Bunny, They wear big smiles.)
BUNNY: Dis ain’ Jamaica. Dis is Babylon, Me don’ recognise nuh court a Babylon. Me get outa Babylon.
POLICE OFFICER 1: Hey Bunny, you got on dem dancing shoes.
(Bunny pushes policeman about to hit him, looks up at judge’s light and thinks better of it).
POLICE OFFICER I: You keep, Bunny. We got you where we want any time we want.
BUNNY: Me get outa Babylon. (chants) Let him go. Let him go
(The chant “Let Him Go’’ from Bunny’s supporters in and outside the court swells).
JUDGES VOICE: Silence. Silence or I will clear the court.
(Band plays Let Him Go as Bunny is taken to prison cell where he lies on bunk with a single electric light blaring down on him. Bunny unscrews light bulb and song finishes in darkness.)
(Lights reveal Bob Marley being interrogated by policemen I and 2 in same cell).
MARLEY: Muh drivers licence still good fe Jamaica.
POLICEMAN 2: We not say it not, Bob. We gotta check it, dat is all.
MARLEY: How long dat take?
POLICEMAN 2: Who know? Couple a hours.
POLICEMAN 1: A couple of day.
POLICEMAN 2: A couple of week.
POLICEMAN 1: You understand?
MARLEY: Me got nut’in fi say. Where dat legal mon?
POLICEMAN 2: Hey, Bob, we your friends. We like di music. What dey
startin’ to call dat now?
(Bob is silent)
POLICEMAN 1: Reggae, isn’t it?
POLICEMAN 2: Dat it, isn’t it, Bob?
(Marley, silent, stares them down).
POLICEMAN 1: Don’ be like dat Bob. We know you not crazy like dat Bunny.
(He pulls out a joint lights it up, has a toke and offers it to Marley, who doesn’t change his expression. After a couple of seconds, he passes joint to Policeman 2.)
POLICEMAN 1: We know you nuh smartarse like dat McIntosh who call hisself Petah Tosh these day. We glad you here, so we can clear up misunderstandin’.
POLICEMAN 2: Alluh time, we hear on da street, we out to get all da Wailers. Not true. Dat not how da law works. We officer of da law, we cannot do dat.
POLICEMAN 1: Dat crazy Bunny, he where he belong. Dat Tosh he probably dere soon. Soon.come, hey mon. But you, Bob, you differen’.
POLICEMAN 2: You da one to tell da rude boys to simmer down. We on da same side.
We can help each ot’er. T’ink about it.
MARLEY: Me t’ink.
(Policeman 2 draws closer and nods)
MARLEY: Me t’ink me want muh legal mon.
(Policeman 2 gets up. He stamps out the joint with his heel)
POLICEMAN 1: Maybe yuh need time to t’ink other t’ings.
(Policeman 1 drags Marley offstage and policeman 1 also leaves as Peter Tosh comes on to stage and starts chanting.)
TOSH: Sout’ Africa fe di Sout’ Africans. End apart’eid. Sout’ Africa fe
di Sout’ Africans.
(Police officers return to stage and go over to Peter Tosh and stand one of either side of him. Tosh ignores them and continues to chant).
POLICE OFFICER 1: Mr Tosh, please come wit’ us, suh.
TOSH: Fe wha’?.
POLICE OFFICER 2: Come wit’ us, Petah.
TOSH: Am me unda arres’ for somet’ing?
POLICE OFFICER 1: Yes suh, yuh under arres’ fe public disturbance.
TOSH: Me got right fi protest. Free country.
POLICE OFFICER 1: We do not wish to restrain yuh, Mr Tosh, come wit’ us?
TOSH: Me will, but dis false arrest. Yuh mek mistake and yuh pay for ut.
(As they walk along, policeman kicks the back of Tosh’s leg, while the other brings down nightstick from high. Just before stick connects, lights go out and sounds are heard of kicking and grunts from officers, then the sound of them dragging away unconscious body.)
POLICE OFFICER 1: Who di toughest, den?
(Stage is in dark and lights travel over auditorium, as band plays I’m the Toughest. There is total darkness for the first 30 secs of the song. Lights reveal a bashed and sorry Tosh, waking up on the bunk of a prison cell with a policeman hovering over him. He tries to raise himself, but cannot. Policeman swings solitary electric light to worsen Tosh’s headache. When Tosh closes his eyes, policeman feigns blows close to Tosh’s head to keep his eyes open. The scene of non violent torture continues until song is finished and lights fade.)
(Lights reveal Afro American, ‘Johnny Brown’ entering hotel room, formerly the prison cell with large PANAM flight bag. The room is pretty much the same as before except for a Home Sweet Home wall plaque and a Jamaican tourist poster. An opaque light bulb still hangs in the centre of the room. Afro American, ‘Johnny Brown’ enters room and carefully inspects walls and ceiling and floor. He examines plaque and poster. He pulls out dresser drawers, and extracts Bible from the top one. With a wry smile he throws Bible on the bed. He runs hands quickly and efficiently over each drawer, tests each by tapping and discards them in turn on the floor. Satisfied, he inspects the mattress . Again satisfied, he picks up Bible. opens it at the middle and looks at it carefully).
‘JOHNNY BROWN’: Massa Gideon, youse like us, Massa Gideon. Youse everywhere.
(Reaching into his bag, Brown extracts a bottle of bourbon, a towel and a reel to reel tape recorder. Brown removes opaque light bulb, wraps it in a towel and smashes it with Bible. He rips a few pages from Bible and then begins to attack the pages with a penknife he has produced from his pocket. He throws the knife on the bed. He takes a transparent bulb from his bag and puts it in socket. He plugs tape recorder into socket, and takes a swig of bourbon. He puts tape mike into the machine and speaks into it.)
‘JOHNNY BROWN’: Hi Poppa. it is January 11, 1972, and this is your son Johnny Brown reporting on the first day of my Jamaican holiday.
(He turns off tape).
Johnny Brown reporting. Where did those honkies come up with that name? Johnny Coconut, more like it. Black working on the inside in Jamaica.
But working for Whitey on the outside. One of these days, I gotta get myself a real job.
(Brown turns tape deck back on.)
I am yet to make friends with those Rastafarians or those close to wannabe Prime Minister Michael Manley. Or pals of that rock trio the Wailers.
I don’t know how tight these three groups of people are.
While the three Wailers seem to be full-on converts to this Rastafarian religion thing, I reckon if they get much bigger internationally, they will follow the traditional Holy Trinity of Drugs, Sex and Rock ‘n’ roll.
As for the Rastas, the only connection most of them have with rock music is a fondness for a ceremonial drum beat. And the Rastas don’t much trust either of the two main parties, Manley’s People’s National Party or the more cones conservative Jamaica Labor Party.
Both these parties have some heavy goons in the boroughs of Kingston. Swinging clubs and fists to swing voters, sort of thing. Lucky I was brought up in Chicago which has been known on occasion to have a similar political style. I think it’s gonna get pretty rough on the streets down this way.
Michael Manley calls himself a democratic socialist and he wants to run Babylon while Rastas declare they will be freed from Babylon any day now.
‘JOHNNY BROWN’: The Rastas call this place Babylon. It seems a couple of thousand years ago, foreign invaders led by this dude Nebucat-something-or-other burned Jerusalem to the ground. The invaders returned to home town Babylon, wherever that was, and took some of the Chosen Ones back with them.
The Rastas say the English did the same thing when they settled Jamaica with African slaves. And now this African black King of Kings, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is gonna take all the chosen Rastas back home.
I know you was mainly asking whether these Rastas and the Wailers was pinkos and whether this Manley was a pinko too. Well it’s a bit too weird to say much about that, but there is a lot of feeling that these Jamaica guys and the Cubans have a bit in common and might get more tight.
Except these Jamaicans hate the English more than us Americans unlike Fidel Castro’s cohorts. I suggest we wait to see what happens before we lend a hand.
One thing I hear, Poppa, is this Finance Minister of Manley’s enemy the Labor Party, this Edward Seaga is our main man in Kingston. If Seaga is our man, I’d sure like to know. Though at this stage, I’d rather Michael Manley was our man.
Anyhows, Poppa and Mama too, I’ll keep an eye on this Manley and these Rastas and the Wailers for you. The outcome can’t be too far away.
(This is the cue for the Wailers Soon Come. ‘Johnny Brown’ talks into the recorder for a while then collects broken glass in towel and pieces of bible and puts them in bag. He replaces old bible with new one.)
END ACT 1
(Scene opens to Stir It Up instrumental refrain)
(A smiling Rlta Marley plucks one string guitar)
RITA: By the end of 1972, di Wailers, dey’s ready fi tek di Word all over di world.
Part of di Word ut say nuh mek baldness on di head. Soon di Wailers teach Babylonian kids how to wear natty dreads.
` For t’ree years now, di Upsetters wit’ dem mean-playin’ Barnett breddahs, been playing wit’ di Wailers.
Once, di Upsetters used fi belong te Lee Perry, we call him Scratch. Now
Scratch di manager of di Wailers, sort of. Ut real confusin’, who own who
At one time, Bob got contract wit’ Perry, Chris Blackwell, Jimmy
Nash and CBS International. Di albums Soul Rebel a 1969 and Soul
Revolution, di year after, dey sell a few overseas. But Catch A Fire, dis year’s album, ut is huge. Ut nuh wonder ev’rybudy wan’ a piece of di Wailers.
But me nah know how happy Petah is. He set up his own label, nuttin’
wrong with dat. Bob do di same long ago. But Petah mad wit’ Chris
Blackwell, di head of Island Records. Peter call him “White worst”. Say
Whiteworst push Bob out front, no more I and 1. Dis success, hard t’ing but
di Word will come true, when t’ings settle after deys been stirred up.
(Bob Marley enters and reasons with Rita, as the band breaks into The Day the
Dollar Died. The following pantomime is enacted during the song:
Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer enter. All exchange greetings and then as the three men begin to reason with each other, Rita, is ignored. She shakes her head and walks out. The reasoning becomes a little heated and Bunny exits. The reasoning breaks down into an argument and Tosh storms off. Marley shrugs his shoulders and walks off towards end of song.)
(Lee Perry enters with a shovel, a sack, a seed box full of records and a bottle of
Tia Maria. He alternately swigs Tia Maria, buries records, looks pleased with himself. Most of the time he is humming Peter Tosh’s Burial. Bob Marley enters with one record in his hand. He is angry. He waves record in hand in Perry’s face).
MARLEY: Wha’ dis, Perry? Wha’ dis, Scratch?
PERRY: Look like Wailer record. Look like one of muh Wailer record.
MARLEY: Yeah, got to be yours. See dis cover; ut say Soul Rebel. See dis record.
MARLEY (hammers cover with his fist.): Ut say… (takes record from sleeve). Ut say Soul Revolution.
PERRY (with broad smile): Dat easy to explain, Bob. Me got a pile of Soul Revolution records and nuh covers. (Takes record from Marley.) Me got a pile of Soul Rebel covers and no records. So dey fit, like Rasta and It’iopia. Like yuh must wear di cap dat fit.
(Marley takes record from Perry, holds sleeve with record face downwards. Of course, record falls to ground.)
MARLEY: Dat how dey fit, Perry And me see nuh Wailer royalties falling out, neit’er. Dey’s still in Scratch Perry’s pocket.
PERRY: Yuh and Whiteworst doin’ alright. Me jes’ trying to get by.
(Swigs on Tia Maria, to Marley’s annoyance)
MARLEY: Get by, t’rough taking royalty a di Wailers.
(A cloud comes over Perry’s face and he is smiling no more.)
PERRY: A few bananas in royalty. Yuh took a whole fockin’ band off me, Marley. Scratch Perry manage di Upsetters, every musician a Jamaica know dat. Den, yuh steal dem fi mek bigger Wailer sound. The Wailers be where dey are today wit’out muh Upsetters? Tell me dat, Marley. Tell me dat.
MARLEY (taken aback by change in Perry’s tone): We negotiate dat long ago.
PERRY: Negotiate. Me was gonna negotiate your fockin’ head all di way te fockin’ Montego Bay wit’ muh shotgun.
MARLEY: Yuh bin gettin’ your share. Jes’ don’ tek more den your share.
(Notices seed box, shovels and dirt for the first time) Wat yuh doing here, mon?
(Perry shrugs his shoulders)
PERRY: De Wailers is di seed a part of di Word. Me bury di seed.
(Marley looks at Perry as if the latter is crazy. Marley bursts out laughing and Perry smiles.)
MARLEY: De seed of di Word.
PERRY: Part of di Word, di Word of King Solomon, di Word of Ras Tafari Emperor Haile Selassie of It’iopia.
Perry raises his head and smiles broadly at Marley.)
MARLEY: Yuh sure crazy, Scratch, but yuh is alrigh’.
(Perry nods and drinks his Tia Maria.)
MARLEY: Let’s forget about dat other t’ing.
PERRY: Suh, Bob. (smirks) Yuh got any ol’ album covers lyin’ aroun’..
(Marley makes a pistol with his forefinger and shoots Perry in the head. It is the cue for I Shot The Sheriff. During the song, Marley helps Perry bury the records. A few times the lighting switches to the ceiling to reveal ‘The Word was made God’.
Marley races off the stage at one time to bring back a watering can. Another time teetotaler Marley glares at Perry when the latter decides to take a swig of Tia Maria. Perry rolls the bottle away. Towards the end of the song, Marley pretends to harvest some records from a tree and Perry does likewise. The song finishes with the two of them sitting down, cross-legged, and exchanging records. A burst of light precedes darkness).
(Lights reveal ‘Johnny Brown’. He enters hotel room, looks up at transparent light bulb and smirks. On the table is a record player and a reel to reel tape recorder. He has a parcel in his hand which he is ripping open. A record single is sandwiched between two thick pieces of cardboard. He looks at the label)
‘BROWN’: Frank Sinatra. They gotta be joking.
(He places the record on a small player and adjusts needle manually. Frank Sinatra bursts into New York New York. Brown looks perplexed. 15 secs later, Sinatra trails off.)
RECORD (White man’s sarcastic voice); This is Poppa from somewhere in the USA.
BROWN: Jive ass mothers.
VOICE: Your intelligence that Ethiopia, ruled by Haile Selassie, is somewhere in Africa sent shock waves through the company. You will be relieved to learn that our crack academic think tank has located precisely where in Africa it is the Rastafarians regard as their spiritual homeland.
BROWN: Cut the shit and get on with it.
RECORD: Soon to be their physical homeland, unless the Seventh Day Adventists get there first. As you suggested, we are interested in the Rastafarian movement as well as the movements of Prime Minister Michael Manley. Unfortunately, as you predicted, Manley has become Prime Minister.
BROWN: Yeah, if you got down in the street more often, you might be able to figure out what’s going down yourself.
RECORD: So we are interested in the social democratic hero of the people, Mr Michael Manley. We are still interested in that rock group of which you spoke.
We are interested in the personnel of that group: Misters Marley, McIntosh and Livingston. We are particularly interested in the nexus of these interests. From what we can gather, Manley wants to use the popularity of the Wailers to enhance his political credibility in the ghettos.
RECORD: If you wish to make sense of the connections between Rastafarianism, the Wailers and Manley, we have a suggestion. The study of little things, such as where Ethiopia is in the somewhat large continent of Africa, might help you.
We have built a scenario of the connecting link. From our understanding, rock musicians seem to be something of a focus of both the Rastafarian movement and the borough chiefs of Manley’s People’s National Party. I believe you colorfully referred to these borough chiefs as goons. Cultivate the goons. Cultivate the rock connection. On that other matter of whether the candidate from the defeated party, Mr Edward Seaga is our man.
(Brown starts nodding, and there is a pause on the record.)
RECORD: We do not see how your study will be enhanced by trying to substantiate ridiculous Rastafarian rumours. Remember your ethnography is….
RECORD: ….concerned with the possible subversive elements within the general populace. You are not to interact with any elected officials of the government or opposition. Appointed “goons” are okay. By all means, report any street rumours of what is happening in the government. Report but do not try to confirm, repeat, do not try to confirm these rumours. Overall, your work is satisfactory. You may keep this record for your collection.
(Another 10 secs of Sinatra. Brown takes record off player and throws it on bed.)
BROWN: Thanks for nothing. (He takes bourbon from drawer.) You boy, you all just sit tight in that Harlem in Kingston. You just work the streets, boy. You just see
what them Trenchtown niggers is up to. Don’t go learning nothing of what’s going on uptown, boy. Cos we got some white folks taking care of that end. And don’t you go smoking too much of that hooch now, you hear.
(to himself) Get yourself a real job, motherfucker. Get yourself a real job.
(He picks up record and flings it in drawer which is the cue for Rat Race. During song, Brown gesticulates and mimes angrily, lies on bed, goes to turn on tape to speak, thinks better of it; paces the room, goes to leave, returns, looks out barred window and swings light, watching it till end of song. At song’s end, he walks out as Rita Marley walks in to lean against wall.)
RITA: Bunny left in ’73. Toward di end of America tour. Dey was suppose fi go te Europe and Englan’. Bunny say ut too cold.
(Tosh, Marley and Bunny walk on stage.)
TOSH (exuberant): Hey mon, we slay dem tonight. D’ose white kids, dey’s cool, mon.
(Rita walks over and listens detachedly to conversation.)
BOB: Like Uh tol’ yuh, Petah, ut work out. We get rid of dat disharmony shit on tour
when we take di Word ev’rywhere. To places, me never even heard a before.
BUNNY: Me going home.
(Tosh looks down and strokes his face. He knows something about this.)
BUNNY: Home. Me going home.
BOB: Bunny, you cyan go to Et’iopia till England and Europe done with.
BUNNY: Me quittin’ di band.
BOB: What? (looks across at Tosh, accusingly) You know something about dis?
(Rita Marley follows conversation and her expressions change accordingly)
TOSH: A little. Nut’in to do wit’ me.
BOB: Yuh reason wit’ Petah about dis. Yuh nah reason wit’ me.
BUNNY: Reason wit’ yuh? Nut’in fi reason. Ut too cold in Europe. Dat’s all.
BOB: Ut too cold. So yuh abandon di Word.
BUNNY: Me abandon nut’ing. Need time to t’ink in warm place. Dis rock
‘n’ roll t’ing. Is ut Rasta?
TOSH: Yeah, ut Rasta. Nuh doubt about dat.
BOB: Course ut Rasta. Bunny, yuh nah even goin’ te Et’iopia. Yuh going back te Babylon a Jamaica. Babylon everywhere. Dat why Wailers tour. Tek di Word te di Babylonian kids. Tell dem dey must let us free. Let demselves free, too.
BOB: So we cyan go home. Real home. Et’iopia, nah jes’ anut’er Babylon.
BUNNY: Everywhere ‘xcep’ Et’iopia is Babylon, jes’ like yuh say, Nesta. If me gotta live a Babylon, me live in warm Babylon. Jah tell me.
BOB: But ut nah like in 1971, when Wailers nut’ing a Englan’. Dis time,
wherever we go a England, a Europe, we get warm air-conditioning. We get
treated like kings.
BUNNY: (smirking): Like Kings of Kings. Nuh. Jah tol’ me.
BOB: Bunny, we work so hard: jail, beatings, rip-offs, mon, we survive dem all.
BUNNY (grabs Marley by the shoulders): Nesta, Jah tell me.
(Marley is about to make another objection, when a look into Bunny’s eyes stops him.)
BOB: Me guess yuh must go wit’ Jah, Bunny.
(Marley hugs Bunny who reaches for Tosh to join in the huddle.)
BOB:: Dis di end of di Wailers.
TOSH: Jah’s will, Uh guess.
BUNNY: De Wailers never die. Di Wailers alluys live.
(Bunny exits, leaving Tosh and Marley in an uneasy hug.)
RITA: (moving back towards wall) De Catch A Fire tour a big international success. An’ di Wailers put down Burning Up in same year, ’73. After Bunny leave, Petah split in ’75. Him and Bob, dey’s too much alike. Bot’ great men, but never give an inch. “What happen te I and I?” say Petah to Bob.
(Tosh and Marley break clinch.)
TOSH: Catch a Fire …. Bob Marley and di Wailers. Burnin’ Up….Bob Marley and di Wailers. Natty Dread …. Bob Marley and di Wailers. Det Mr Whiteworst! (Shakes head) Who mek dat distinction, suh. Mr Bob Marley, who mek dat distinction? Who set one mon apart from di Wailers? Who, suh? Who mek one t’ing two t’ings? Who do dat, Mr Marley?
Whiteworst, he refuse Petah Tosh record. An’ you stick with Whiteworst.
Yuh runnin’ wit’ di Babylonians. Me walk wit’ di Rasta.
(Tosh runs out and Marley is enraged, but contemplative)
RITA: Petah t’ought he had to walk. I guess he did nah look back te the last of di Wailers left alone.
(Band plays Gotta Walk (and Don’t Look Back))
(Bunny and Peter return to recreate the scene. Bunny being cold, and walking off, Peter being angry and walking off . Song and lights fade with Bob Marley alone on stage.)
(Announcer’s voice booms through darkness, though it is unrecognisable what he says.)
ANNOUNCER: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the One Love Concert. 1978 will prove an historic year for Jamaica. It will be remembered as da yeardat we overcome political and social divisions and came together under One Love.
Our honoured guests Prime Minister, Michael Manley and Opposition Leader, Edwards Seaga (Lights flash across auditorium looking for the two) sit side by side in the spirit of One Love.
And now for your entertainment, we have one of Kingston’s most loved and respected sons. I give you, Mr Peter Tosh.
(Applause as Tosh enters in darkness. Spotlight reveals him to be dressed totally in black.)
TOSH: T’ank yuh all. How about me mek some music fe yuh.
(Applause increases as band strikes up Legalise It).
TOSH (puts up hand to silence band): Wait a minute. (All is silent.)
(Tosh takes huge spliff from his pocket and lights it)
TOSH: My name is Wolde Semayat. Peter Tosh, dat my stage name. Winston McIntosh dat anut’a name uh had long ago. But muh real name is Wolde Semayat, dat muh Et’iopian name. (Applause) Let’s keep ut wit’ muh real name. (Applause)
(Pause) Me am a Rasta (applause) and dis (holds up spliff) is di Holy Weed of di Rasta. Rastas are barely legal in Jamaica and ganja nah legal at all.
(He takes a long toke)
Me don’ deal too much wit’ politic. Muh duty is fi mek music. But someone say earlier unemployment is 35% a Babylon, me t’ink me say somet’ing .
When dey say 35%, dey mean 35 out of 100 of ev’rybudy. What dat really mean is dat fe di young people, di olah people and di poor people, det more like 70, 80 outa 100.
Nah everyone wanna work fe di Babylonians, me respec’ dat. But dose dat choose fi work fe di Babylonians, dey mus’ be allowed fi work fe di Babylonians. (Appaluse) Dis One Love concert, dis peace concert.
(A refrain from Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance plays.)
(Pause and Tosh raises his voice.)
Me don’ wan’ peace.
(Silence, sighs, embarrased titters and a few boos from within the audience.)
Me want equality.
(Applause, rising to a crescendo.)
I am nuh politician. Me just suffa di consequences.
(Tosh is working himself up and points into the audience.)
TOSH Yuh, Micheal Manley, yuh Edward Seaga, yuh are politicians. Mr Manley, yuh claim yuh given di rod of Haile Selassie by Jah hisself. Yet yuh got no respec’ fe di Holy Weed, di herb dat grew on Negus Solomon’s grave.
Yuh mek Holy Weed illegal, di same way yuh tek job from young people. What yuh do dat fe? (pause) Who you do dat fe? (pause) Yuh do dat (pause) fe di Babylonians (shocked gasps, pause, and applause.)
Yuh call yuhself. democratic socialis’. Det might mek you enemy of di CIA. And enemy of Edward Seaga. But dat don’ necessarily mek yuh friend of di people.
Yuh never be frien’ of di people til yuh legalise ut.
(Band strikes up music again.)
Jes’ like yuh say yuh do before ev’ry election.
(Band plays Legalise It as Tosh prowls the stage haranguing Manley and Seaga.
Lights fade with song).
(Only the right side of the stage is lit up as lights reveal Rita Marley leaning against the wall. She is very upset as she speaks, though her early words give no clue to why this is so.)
RITA: De Wailers wen’ from success to success, even do Bunny and Petah are gone. Yuh know di albums Live! Bob Marley and the Wailers, Rastaman Vibrations, Exodus, Babylon by Bus, Survival. All of a sudden black and white kids all over di world is wearin’ dreads. Dey don’t understand di Rasta t’ing, but di understand livin’ a Babylon. Bob even do dis Punky Reggae Party t’ing cause he like dis English punk band, called di Crash or somet’ing.
Bunny nuh perform much, but he mek his music on his Solomonic label. Petah, he tour and mek a lot of music.
RITA: He even hook up wit’ di Rolling Stones. Dey want his stuff on deh own label.
RITA: Me guess nah all Babylonians white worst, hah?
But Bob, he get cancer. (barely in control) He get cancer from kickin’ soccer ball. How about dat? Soccer, he love dat stupid Babylonie game and ut kill him. But no matter how sick, he gotta come back for Independence Day, 1980.
(Rita walks towards room, where lights reveal Marley in bed with Bunny sitting in chair at his side.)
BUNNY: What yuh talkin’ about dis deat’ rubbish, Bob. Nuh such t’ing.
BOB: (weakly): Me don’ have much time, Bunny.
BUNNY: Me shouldnah let yuh go a di world by yuhself. We a team. I and 1.
BOB: We alluys I and 1, Bunny. Me only mad at yuh leaving for a little while. Den me know ut I and I and yuh still deh wit’ di Wailers. Uh know ut alluys I and 1.
BUNNY: And alluys will be. Don’t worry nut’ing about dis deat’ t’ing.
(Peter Tosh enters. Bunny and Peter greet each other. Tosh is a little embarrassed when he looks at Marley. All three are silent.)
BUNNY: Me go for a walk.
BOB: Nuh need fi do dat.
(Tosh looks at floor)
BUNNY: Me want to t’ink. (He exits.)
BOB (wry grin): Who di best domino player in Trenchtown, Petah?
Tosh (catching on): Bob Marley.
BOB: And who di best wit’ ratchet?
(He reaches for ratchet on side of dresser, but withdraws in pain. Tosh picks up ratchet instead.)
TOSH: Bob Marley di best wit’ ratchet in Trenchtown. Peter Tosh, he good, but Bob Marley di best.
BOB: And who di best street soccer player?
(Tosh looks at Marley, but does not answer.)
BOB: Tell ut.
(No answer from Tosh)
BOB: Tell ut.
TOSH: Yuh is, Bob.
BOB: Det right.
TOSH: A lot of what was said.
BOB: Wa’ said.
TOSH: And me got fi stand by ut. Jes’ could have been said differen’, dat all. Same way yuh could have done t’ings differen’. Dat all.
BOB: Wha’ way?
TOSH: Dey tell me dat even now, you won’ let dem Babylonie doctor carve yuh up, get rid of di cancer duppy.
BOB:: Yuh t’ink me should do dat?
TOSH: Me say nuh bad word about ut. Noone say nuh bad word about ut aroun’ me neit’er. Me promise dat?
BOB:: Yuh t’ink me should do dat?
TOSH: What all di time you play wit’ dat soccer ball for? Stupid Babylonie game.
BOB:: Babylonians don’ deserve di game. Dey got no respec’ for game; only respec’ fe winning. Dat why dey lose in di end. Same fe cricket. Same fe music.
TOSH: Bunny and me, we would have stayed if ut had been a little differen’.
BOB:: I and I
BOB:: Yuh t’ink me don’ know what happenin’? Me, Bob Marley, rock star, don’ know what happening a di street.
TOSH: Yuh could have made Whiteworst listen. Him tell me and Bunny, we nut’ing wit’out Bob Marley. Yuh know dat?
BOB:: Yuh know how much me hurt when yuh say me no repec’ for I and 1.
TOSH: Dat di way Uh see ut. Got fi be honest.
BOB: Yeah, but di Babylonians, dey don’t have I and 1. Dey have I and di res’. Dey have Bob Marley and di Wailers. Could have been Bunny and di Wailers. Could have been Peter Tosh and di Wailers. But ut was Bob Marley. Ut hard on yuh an’ Bunny, but ut hard on me, too. Same wit’ girls.
TOSH: What dat?
BOB: When we kids, me jealous of Winston McIntosh. Him tall and funny. Tosh, him di mon to ketch di girls.
TOSH: Me do alrigh’.
BOB: But when Bob Marley, one of di Wailers become Bob Marley di rock star, him get di best lookin’ girls. Dat di Babylonian way.
TOSH: Nah di Rasta way.
BOB: What if ut had been Peter Tosh and di Wailers. Yuh say nuh te girls, yuh say nuh te respec’ when yuh still takin’ di Word all over di world.
TOSH (picturing it): Peter Tosh and di Wailers. Dat Peter Tosh, him end up wit’ such swell head, Bob Marley couldnah kick ut a sixteent’ of an inch.
BOB: Dat Peter Tosh, him do alright anyway. Him pretty big rock star.
Jest about as big as Marley a Jamaica. nah as big as Marley overseas. But den dat Marley him huge. An’ dat Tosh him mek some fair music at time, too. And him goin’ fi be buried after Bob Marley. Dat biggest joke of all.
TOSH: Me nuh expec’ dat, neither.
BOB: How many time dem police try fi kill yuh, since yuh wouldna lissen to me. How many time dey try?
TOSH (shrugs): Two, t’ree, four time. Say t’ree an’ a half. (smiles). One time, dey don’t seem dat serious about ut.
BOB: Dat Peter Tosh, him sure di toughest.
TOSH (serious): Nuh. Andrew Tosh, Ziggy Marley and di others dat come after us; dey di toughest. Dey di toughest, because dey listen to Bob Marley and dey learn.
BOB: Who dis Bob Marley? Wasn’t him one of di Wailers?
TOSH (nods): l and 1.
BOB: And I and I and I and I…
(Tosh joins in the chant) I and I and I and I………………
RITA (re-entering): Yuh two happy. Me see Bunny outside. What dis? Reunion a firs’ Wailers?
TOSH: Guess so. Bob getting bettah, Rita?
RITA (hiding feelings): Yes, Petah, we got dis herb treatment planned. But Bob need fi rest fe concert tonight. T’anks fe visit, Petah.
TOSH: Good to see yuh again, Rita. T’anks for reasoning, Bob, me know yuh be betta soon. We got some jammin’ fi do.
BOB (raising his hand with effort): I
TOSH (resuming the salute): And 1.
RITA: Yuh shouldnah talk so long.
BOB: Me haven’ got much time, Rita.
RITA: Don’ say dat, Nesta.
BOB: Me love you, Rita. Alluys and ever.
(Marley nods off to sleep, but gives Rita his hand before doing so. Lights fade.)
(Band plays No Woman no Cry as lights reveal Rita waits by Marley’s side. Lights move from bed to Wailers album covers and family photos during song.)
(Lights reveal Tosh strumming his guitar on the side of a bed. An anxious Bunny hovers around him.)
BUNNY: Yuh godda do somet’ing, Petah.
TOSH: ‘Bout what?
BUNNY: About Grenada. Deh’s breddahs and sistas in Grenada.
TOSH: Deh’s breddahs and sistas everywhere.
BUNNY: But dat Seaga, him send Jamaica troops fi help kill Rastas a Grenada.
TOSH: Dat Seaga wors’ Prime Minister dan Manley. Seaga, him work fe CIA. Rasta teach dat long ago.
BUNNY: Den yuh do ut.
TOSH (shaking his head): Nuh, Bunny.
(He continues to strum.)
BUNNY: Why nah?
TOSH (thinking): Why nah? Why Seaga give Marley highest honour a Jamaica.
BUNNY: What yuh saying deh, Peter? What yuh saying about Nesta?
TOSH: Nut’in like dat, Bunny. Dey give me di honour when me dead or dyin’, too.
Dey give yuh honour when yuh ….(sees Bunny’s glare because he does not believe in death) …. at some time or ot’er. But what before dat? What dey do to di Wailers all dem years? Dey bash yuh an’ dey put yuh in jail, and dey call yuh traitor an’ filt’y bum.
Den when yuh famous and mek money for dem from oversea’, dey still call yuh traitor and filt’y bum, but only behind your back.
BUNNY: Dey still bash yuh when yuh famous, Peter.
TOSH: Yeah, dey do dat. And ut nah that me scared of being bashed again. Me nah scared. Ut a compliment dat dey bash me, dat dey still feared a me, do me rich and famous and should be one of dem.
BUNNY: Yuh always di toughest, Peter.
TOSH: Tough nuh ut, Bunny. I tell yuh what ut is. Ut dat rock ‘n’ roll create all dese pimps. Yuh get big; even di governmen’ want to pimp yuh; ‘specially di governmen’ want to pimp yuh. When yuh alive, yuh cyan do somet’ing about ut. When yuh dead or dyin’, nut’ing yuh cyan do.
BUNNY: What dat got wit’ yuh putting out a record about Grenada. Seaga nah going fi pimp yuh fe telling him fi get outa Grenada.
TOSH: Nuh, Manley pimp me instead, Seaga pimp me fe somet’ing else. Nuhbudy pimp private Rasta.
BUNNY: Me nuh reason what yuh say, Peter.
TOSH: Remember dat time in di seventies, yuh tek five year off public show. Yuh reason dat, Bunny.
BUNNY: Me reason dat. But deh many people out deh feelin’ di hurt. Dey’s looking for Doctor Tosh. Me reason dat, too.
TOSH: Me cyannah reason dat at dis time. Bunny, yuh di first Wailer fi realise dat being a rock star cyan be a terrible job.
BUNNY: Nuh dat, Petah. Jes’ dat yuh an’ Nesta got such t’ick hides, yuh nuh understan’ dat England, ut cold.
TOSH: Ut cold at the top and burnin’ at di bottom.
BUNNY: Dat Babylon.
TOSH: Dat Babylon, Bunny.
(Band plays Equal Rights. Wailer and Tosh perform a pantomime of burnin’ at the bottom and cold at the top. It is a parody of the class system, with the two rising, reaching and falling. Props are their bodies: hunched, stretched high, prone; the bed and the floor. At one stage, they will compete to keep the other down. At another time, one will pimp the other, pointing the crowd towards the “success” and taking money from the crowd. At other times one will be picking the other’s back pocket from below, and the top pocket from above. Lights fade.)
(Lights reveal policeman 1 and Johnny Brown with a bag at his feet, sitting at a table. Policeman 2 enters with Dennis Lobban, carrying a bag.)
POLICEMAN 2: Oh, sorry. Didn’t know yuh was still here.
POLICEMAN 1: Ut alright, almost finished with dis Yank grub. Tell Lobban fi sit dere.
(He indicates seat beside Brown. Policeman 2 roughly casts Lobban beside Johnny Brown.)
BROWN; None of that grub business, boy. I’m an innocent man.
POLICEMAN 2: What’s with him?
POLICEMAN 1: Being extradited te ‘merica. Got extortion charges dere.
BROWN: All a misunderstanding. I would have gone back voluntarily (pause) but this way, I save the airfare. (Gives big grin) Probably come back to Kingston, once I’ve sorted out the misunderstanding. Real nice friendly country you got here.
POLICEMAN 1: Told yuh before. Yuh come back here; nex’ time yuh leave, yuh leave da whole world permanent.
(Brown smiles as if policeman is jesting.)
BROWN (to Lobban): What they got you for, big fella? (Lobban says nothing)
POLICEMAN 1: Dennis Lobban is going for a holiday outside. Ut’ll be a short holiday; alluys is. Yuh’Il be back staying wit’ us again soon, won’t yuh, Lobban?
(No reply from Lobban)
BROWN: Sounds like a nickel and dime loser stuff to me. (to Lobban) You know son, when I was your age, I was shaking Jimi Hendrix down for thousands.
(Lobban lifts his head.)
BROWN: You heard of Jimi Hendrix, ain’t you, Dennis?
BROWN: Don’t believe everything you hear. Just another uppity nigger, thought he was God cause he was ballin’ white chicks. Didn’t make him no better than me and the other brothers. He wasn’t so uppity during the negotiations when we worked out our managerial deal. Like I said thousands of bucks. And I bet I’ve spent less time in jail during these past 18 years than you have in the past five.
POLICEMAN 1: Shuddup, Bigmouth. We nah care what yuh done back home, Yank. We jest happy to be rid of yuh. We got our grubs like Lobban fi tek care of. Lucky yuh a dumb pest, Lobban. Too dumb for dat exbreddah of yours whose got himself hooked into that rich grub, Peter Tosh.
BROWN: Tosh, ain’t he just put out another album. He’s gonna be huge again now. You got a pal hooked up with Peter Tosh. You should look him up, Dennis.
POLICEMAN 2: Hey Nigger, are you tryin’ to put grand ideas in big Lobban’s tiny mind. You’re wasting your time. Dat’s a brick wall dere.
POLICEMAN 1: Pick up the rest of your t’ings outside, Nigger. An’ remember what Uh said ‘bout what’ll happen te yuh if yuh come back here.
LOBBAN: What about me?
POLICEMAN 1: Take Lobban away. He knows what to do. See you soon, Loser.
LOBBAN: Yuh won’ see me again.
POLICEMAN 1 (smirks): Righ’, Grub.
(He dismisses Lobban with his hand as policeman 2 takes him away.)
BROWN (calling out): Hey Dennis. We should get together for a drink and a smoke sometime. Maybe even a blast.
BROWN (bitterly): The honkies finally let me do something.
POLICEMAN 1: Wha’ dat?
BROWN: Don’t worry about it. You be real careful what you do from now on.
I don’t like you. You listen real good, boy. If I find you out of uniform in a
Kingston bar, you might just wish you had got what Tosh has coming to him.
POLICEMAN1: Yuh won’ catch me anywhere a Kingston. Me go to the country.
BROWN: Transfer? Our people fix that up?
POLICEMAN 1: Me resign. Me study Rasta a di country.
(Policeman hangs his head, as Brown laughs loudly and ruefully.)
(Lights off as band strikes up African.)
(The following pantomime is played out during African:
From left to right there is Dennis Lobban with bag and motorcycle helmet and two posters; Policeman 1 is in front of wall, with a bag and a poster. Johnny Brown is in his hotel room with a bag, a bottle of bourbon and a poster.
Brown swigs on bourbon and begins to pack his bag. He opens tourist poster of Jamaica. He freezes, looking at poster.
Policeman 1 takes off his police shirt and puts on a t shirt with an Ethiopian flag. He goes to put his police shirt in bag, but discards it.. He unfurls a poster of Haile Selassie and freezes.
Lobban takes a gun from his bag and checks it. He unfurls a poster of Hendrix, looks at it, then casts it aside. He picks a poster of Peter Tosh, looks at it and freezes.
Brown throws poster on bed. Policeman packs his away. Lobban throws his on the ground.
All three pack their bags as song finishes. Exeunt, policeman and Lobban right, Brown left.
All look at the ground and do not see rhe others as they pass.
As African finishes there are sounds of a motorbike revving to a halt, followed by gunshots.)
(Policeman 1 re-enters carrying bag and transistor radio. He drops bag and turns radio on.)
RADIO: That was Peter Tosh with African. In case you just tuned in, I repeat the news that Peter Tosh is dead. He died as a result of gunshot……
(Policeman 1 turns radio off and drops it on top of bag.)
POLICEMAN 1: Breddahs and sistas, mek way fe Rita Marley.
(Rita Marley enters flanked by policeman 2, Perry and Dodd, who brush away imaginary crowd. Rita goes to the front of stage and waves to audience.)
RITA: Bunny Wailer was right. Di Wailers never die. Di Wailers live. Sistas and
breddahs …. Bunny Wailer!
(Bunny Wailer runs on to stage, kisses Rita and shakes hands with other cast members.)
BUNNY: Muh friend, Robert Nesta Marley.
(Bob Marley enters and shakes hands with Bunny and holds hands with Rita.)
BOB: Who di toughest? Peter Tosh.
(Tosh enters and makes greetings.)
TOSH: Breddahs and sistas, di band.
(The band strikes up Stand Up For Your Rights. The cast sings and exhorts the audience to “stand up for you rights”. )
A brief history of the growth of Rastafarianism in Jamaica during the 20th century
THREE of the people responsible for the growth of Rastafarianism during the last century were:
Peter Tosh: October 9, 1944 ― September 11, 1987.
Bob Marley: February 6, 1945 ― May 11, 1981.
Marcus Garvey, August 17, 1887 (St Ann’s Bay, Jamaica) ― June 10, 1940.
Garvey set et up the the African Communities League in 1914.
He wanted former German colonies in Africa seized by the allies after World War 1 transferred to the League and its associated Universal Negro Improvement Association.
In 1920 the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World was adopted at the New York convention of the UNIA-ACL.
Copies of the lengthy declaration are available on the Internet, but one complaint and three demands foreshadowed the growth of Rastafarianism.
X1. That the many acts of injustice against members of our race before the courts of law in the respective islands and colonies are of such a nature as to create disgust and disrespect for the white man’s sense of justice.”
2. We, the duly elected representatives of the Negro peoples of the world, invoking the aid of the just and Almighty God, do declare all men, women and children of our blood throughout the world free citizens and do claim them as free citizens of Africa, the Motherland of all Negroes.
39. Resolved that the colours Red Black and Green be the colours of the Negro race.
40. Resolved That the anthem Ethiopia, Thou Land shall be the anthem of the Negro Race.”
The Universal Ethiopian Anthem
(Words by Burrel and Ford)
Ethiopia, thou land of our fathers,
Thou land where the gods love to be,
As storm cloud at night suddenly gathers,
Our armies come rushing to thee
Advance, advance to victory; let Africa be free.
Advance to meet the foe with the might
Of the Red, the Black and the Green.
We must in the fight be victorious
When swords are thrust outward to gleam
For us will the vict’ry be glorious
When led by the Red, Black and Green.
Ethiopia, the tyrants falling,
Who smote thee upon thy knees
And the children are lustily calling
From over the distant seas.
Jehovah, the Great One has heard us,
Has noted our sighs and our tears
With His Spirit of Love he has stirred us
To be One through the coming years.
(A final verse has been left out, but is easily accessible on the Internet. A modernised version of the lyrics could see the symbolic colours become the Red, Gold and Green, the traditional Rasta colours, although Black is sometimes present to create a quartet of sacred hues.)
Rastafarianism is a Pan-Africanist religion which is a hybrid of traditional Africanist religion (such as Voodoo), Biblical Christianity, (privileging the First Testament ― though not the versions “doctored” by the white oppressors), Judaic metaphors and Africanised Islam.
Christianity, Islam and Rastafarianism share reverence for text or the Word as well as a prediction of the Apocalypse or Armageddon followed by a rewarding after-life for the deserving or chosen ones _ heaven on Earth in Africa for Rastafarians.
Pan-African preachers foretelling repatriation were prominent in Jamaica from the late 19th century.
British forces seized colony of Jamaica from Spanish colonists in the 17th century.
In less than 100 years from the Spanish invasion of Jamaica in the 1490s, Spain wiped out the domestic Arawaks with murder, infectious diseases and destruction of local economies. Only Arawak emigrants survived.
From the early 1500s the Spanish began to sparsely repopulate Jamaica with African slaves, a practice perpetuated and greatly extended by the British, 150 years later.
African slaves provided unpaid plantation labour until the British Empire abolished slavery on August 1, 1834.
Jamaican preachers of the late 19th century stressed First Testament references to Ethiopia (or I-thiopia to some Rastas) as the symbol of a Black African Nation. Some scholars believe Ethiopianism traces back almost to the times of the beginnings of the African slave trade.
In 1896, Ethiopian forces repelled invading Italian forces, reinvigorating pan-Africanism in Jamaica and elsewhere.
Mostly secular, Jamaican born cultural nationalist, Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) used Ethiopia as a symbol of the return to Africa and quoted the First Testament as evidence.
“Princes shall come out of Egypt and Ethiopia shall soon stretch out Her hands to God.”
― Psalms 68:31.
When Ras Tafari Makonnen became Haile Selassie (Power of the Trinity) and Emporer of Ethiopia in 1930, he took the title of King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of Judea.
Some Caribbean Africans familiar with the popularised Pan-African tradition thought the redeemer had arrived.
It was not only the suppressed who pondered the coming of a black Messiah. The prospect deeply concerned FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover and informed the bureau’s relationship with remotely political African-American spokespeople or organisations.
Jamaican preachers promoted the divinity of Ras Tafari, a status given more poignancy after the invasion of Ethiopia by Mussolini’s Italian forces in 1935.
Ganja or the Holy Weed became a part of Rasta ritual in the 1940s with some scholars saying it could have been an Indian influence though Rastafarians found justification for it in the Old Testament, most pertinent being the Holy Herb growing on King Solomon’s grave.
Dreadlocks, replacing or supplementing beards among young Rastafarians arrived in the 1950s.
The myth of Rasta males as drug-addled wild men had little basis in reality as marijuana was a ceremonial herb and dreads were never compulsory.
Centralising the Babylon metaphor also came in the 1950s. For Rastas, Babylon was the white imperialist power system ― “the shitstem’’, in Peter Tosh’s phrase, which took the Chosen Ones from Africa and enslaved them in colonies. The ancient reference is to Nebuchadnezzar for sacking Jerusalem and returning to Babylon with the Chosen Ones as slaves.
God would wreak vengeance on Babylon for the slavery of his Chosen Ones.
With its determinism of a vengeful God, waiting to wreak havoc on Babylon, Rastafarianism could afford to be and was a non-violent religion.
Ceremonial drumming created a link between Rastafarianism and music in the late 50s and early 60s while the practice of “studying” or “reasoning” the religion provided the opportunity for older musicians to “convert” the young, though Rastas did not equate reasoning with the Christian practice of conversion..
During reasoning, a few Rastas gathered together to discuss spiritual matters, usually smoking the Holy Weed.
Red, Gold and Green (and sometimes Black as in Garvey’s Ethiopian anthem) became the colours of Rastafarianism.
On August 6, 1962, Jamaica gained independence from Britain.
Marcus Garvey’s remains were brought to Jamaica in 1964 and Haile Selassie visited the new nation on April 21, 1966.
Most historians believe Selassie died in 1975.
In 1972 democratic socialist Michael Manley was elected Prime Minister of Jamaica.
With Manley’s victory, the world wide popularity of the Wailers and its members embracing Rastafarianism which was spreading throughout the world., the American CIA increased its presence in Jamaica in the 1970s.
A brief glossary
Dictionaries of Jamaican Rasta patois can be found on the Internet and elsewhere.
The use of the term dictionary is problematic as Rasta patois is an oral democratically evolving language rather than text-based elitist modern European words which maike up most of those found in dictionaries. In an oral language, words will enter and exit more quickly and probably mutate in structure or meaning. I presume Rastas shared some words or expressions with other members of the Jamaican underclasses such as the criminals they called rude boys.
The Rastas’ religious or philosophical imagery would have started off as their own though some of that would doubtless have spread to non-Rastas they came into contact with.
In the play, authority figures such as the policemen and the ground announcer use only some of the words of the patois used by the Rastafarian believers.
Even the patois of the Rastas is not used to authentically replicate the changing Rastafarian language which would have evolved over the 20 years the story unfolds.
The aim of casting the play in patois is to take an audience unfamiliar with the language on a journey where they begin to identify with the Rasta characters and take in the what they are saying. For the purposes of the play, the patois needs to be consistent and not too complex.
To achieve these aims, I have repeated a small number of patois words and constructions.
Some of these are
a preposition meaning “in” or “of ”.
Babylon the European power structure, originally based on slavery and colonialism.
batty bwoy a queer
breddah brother, as in like-minded rather than blood-related.
clean di rifle fellatio
di the, pronounced as a clipped dee
dreads hair, uncut and uncombed, which grows naturally.
duppy devil, demon
fi: to in the marked infinitive, that is to+verb, such as fi eat. Pronounced as a clipped version of fee. Compare with te which is the preposition to.
Ganja marijuana, the Holy Herb/ Weed.
I and I You and me, equal under Jah.
ratchet switchblade knife
reason informal or semi-formal discussion between two, or among a few, Rastas.
rude bwoys criminals, gang members.
science evil witchcraft
sheddah shadow, also the soul for Rastas.
study learn Rastafarianism. See reason.
te to, when a preposition. See fi
throwing partner fighting
Uh I as in the first person pronoun except for I and I in the play.
Word The Word (of God) is Holy in Rastafarianism.