The National University of Lesotho
A careful study of music albums of reggae artists reveals striking qualities of good oratory. One equally witnesses the deployment of both classical, traditional, and innovative rhetorical skills to the cause of the political independence, economic advancement, and the restoration of the racial pride of Black peoples the world over. Fontaine observes that such artistic representation of the Negro's experience "unites the darker people of Africa to those of America and to all everywhere in whom burns the unfulfilled wish for freedom, equality, and dignity." The central concern of this paper is, thus, to outline the pan-Africanist concerns of reggae music and analyse the patterns of its persuasive strategies. The article explores the dual subject of the functionality of reggae music as well as its aesthetics. We analyse a selection of these to unearth "... the means and devices that a reggae musician and orator uses in order to achieve the intellectual and emotional effects on an audience that will persuade them to accede to his point of view."
The pan-Africanist dimension of reggae music and its specific intellectual and emotional appeal are largely explicable in the light of the African origins of its Jamaican pioneers. Their historical experiences and social struggles are reflected in the works of several of their musicians who see their musical profession partly as the acceptance of a challenge to fulfil a duty which Bob Marley describes as: "We free our people with music." The themes and aesthetics which characterize its rhetoric of resistance and Black reconstruction confer on reggae music a worldwide attraction, especially among a cross-section of those who identify and sympathize with the plight of the colonized, the disadvantaged and the racially oppressed. And this is not surprising since in Jamaica reggae begun as a reaction to British colonial rule. Its inclination towards the pan-Africanist perspective of the Jamaican nationalist and pan-Africanist, Marcus Garvey is its marked feature. Concerning the driving influence behind reggae music, Stephen King has noted that:
It is important to note that the continued predominance of these concerns in reggae music is equally explained by the cardinal fact that: "...most serious reggae artists adhered to some of the principles of the Rastafarian movement." The existence of racism and the political domination of large parts of the Third World in general, and Africa in particular, offered fertile grounds in which reggae music could widen its audience, themes and subject matter beyond the confines of its cradle island of Jamaica. By the middle of the 1960s many successful reggae artists had acceded to international fame and pan-African notoriety. Its is said of Marley, for instance, one of them that:
This internationalization of reggae music was enhanced by the intensification of the armed struggle for political independence in the Third World in general and in Africa in particular. The pan-Africanist aspiration to independence had been given more impetus by the accession to independence of many African countries, with Ghana, Guinea and Mali adopting the red, yellow, and green colours of the Ethiopian national flag and forming a political union in 1960. Again, the mobilization of Black peoples against colonization and for their unity was getting increasingly vibrant in the United States of America (USA) where leaders of the Civil Rights campaign were emphasising the link between Africa's drive for freedom and African-American's demand for civil rights. The pan-Africanist dimensions of this phenomenon is evident in the connection often made by its leaders between Africa's freedom movements and those of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. Martin Luther King Jr. for instance, noted on the eve of his assassination in 1968 :
Reggae musicians of Jamaica and elsewhere were more open to such advocacy and identified with its programme not only because they were Black people but also because they readily understood this phenomena in the context of the colonial experience of Jamaica. This anti-colonial stance found expression in the names adopted by reggae musical groups. They included Culture (possibly an expression of Black identity and quest for independence), Black Uhuru (literally translated "Black Freedom", Uhuru being the word for "freedom" in Ki-Swahili, an East African language) and Burning Spear (reference to a pre-colonial weapon; most probably an expression of a penchant for the defence of the freedom and progress of Black people in their ardent fight for political and economic liberation).
It is, therefore, not surprising that in reggae music race and common suffering become the rallying focus of a pan-African anti-colonial agitation. This explains why many reggae songs of the 60s and early 70s grounded their exhortation on historical memories of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonial exploitation of Africa. Songs by reggae groups, such as Wailers, Burning Spear and Culture contained songs entitled "Slave Driver", "Slavery Days" and "Pirate Days" respectively. It is equally significant in this connection that four out of the eight songs that constitute Peter Tosh's album, Equal Rights, deal directly with the condemnation of colonialism and racial discrimination. They are: "Get up, Stand up", "Downpressor man", "Equal Rights" and "Apartheid". Bob Marley equally makes specific mention of the need to rid Africa of colonial domination in songs such as "Zimbabwe", "Africa Unite" and "War" in the album entitled Survival, while Confrontation ends with the song "Black man Redemption." These militant songs of freedom, patriotism and Messianism have a pan-Africanist dimension whose rhetorical content and subject matter must be highlighted if the sources and motives of reggae music are to be appropriately appreciated.
"Redemption Song", by Bob Marley, for instance, begins with the narrator's account of a personal experience in which the persona is a victim of pirates who kidnapped and imprisoned him in a "bottomless pit". It is followed by his enslavement, continues with his eventual fortification by God and ends with his redemption and triumphant living. This story acquires universal significance in two stages: first, as the speaker turns to address the audience to identify with his past misery and present triumph. Its rhetorical merit resides largely in the appeal to the audience in the rhetorical question: "Won't you hail to sing redemption songs?" The second is when the speaker, convinced that the proof of his argument is self-evident, establishes a close bond between himself and the audience by appealing directly to them to "emancipate yourselves from mental slavery". He deepens the solidarity he seeks by introducing the second person plural of the reflexive pronoun in the sentence "None but ourselves can free our minds." The subsequent appeal for courage and commitment is given in the reassuring way that neither "atomic energy" - the symbolic expression of the military might and technology of the oppressor - can halt the advance of freedom. Then comes the strategy of infesting the audience with a sense of guilt with the aim of having their acquiescence and active adherence to the cause he advocates. This is also stated in a rhetorical question: "How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?" The speaker concludes with a logical refutation of any potentially deterministic objection to his opinion. By all these he implies that active dedication to the said cause, rather than pristine apathetic nonchalance to his admonition, is the right way to fulfill "the Book" of Prophecy.
In his bid to persuade, the speaker makes an accusation of inhumanity against "pirates", projects himself as a victim-victor, invites the audience to identify with and experience his joyous liberation under God. By so doing he excites not only the feelings of enmity, pity, anger and disdain towards the "pirates", but also that of hope, solidarity and the intellectual soundness of his arguments in the minds of his audience.
The pan-African scope of another of Marley's song, "Buffalo Soldier", resides in the vividness of this historical account of an African immigrant whose forced labour built the American nation. It is basically the account of the plight of the Negro in the New World. "Yes, he was stolen from Africa/Brought to America/Fighting in arrival/Fighting for survival/Driven from the mainland/To the heart of the Caribbean". Thus, the "Dreadlocked Rasta" is a metaphorical buffalo and soldier captured and exploited to build the American State. The mention of "Africa", "America", "Jamaica" and the "Caribbean" reveals the story as an allegorical account of Black people in their Diaspora in the New World. A legion of examples can be drawn to illustrate this pattern of rhetoric characterized by an inventio of accusation, a dispostio of symbolization and the universalization of the particular. We see here a pattern which does not express only historical sufferings of the Black race but also a statement of great hope in the Black man's future.
This theme of Africa's past suffering and promising future is closely linked to the "Back to Africa" advocacy. William Edward Burghurdt Dubois had noted that "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the colour line - the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea". Marcus Garvey, for his part, saw the solution to this problem as the return of Africans to the continent from which they originated. His defence of this project, which was later to find echoes in many a reggae song, in part went as follows:
The advocacy of a literal return to Africa came to be championed in reggae music. The songs "Exodus", "Marcus Garvey", and "Black starliner must come" by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burning Spear and Culture respectively are indications of this. They all speak of the need to fulfil the aspirations of all peoples of African descent by moving (metaphorically or literally) to Africa, which is to all intents and purposes the bona fide possession of the Black man. In their treatment of this theme reggae musicians evoke the Biblical story of the Hebrews who returned to their homeland after hundreds of years of enslavement in Egypt and decades of captivity in Babylon and Assyria. This allusion serves as imagery that confers divine approval and legitimacy on the whole programme of pan-Africanist revival. Reggae stars such as Sugar Minott, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley sing of this pan-African return to the fatherland in their songs "River Jordan", "Fig tree" and "Zion Train" respectively.
Bob Marley's song "Exodus" presents the theme of repatriation in a particularly captivating manner. This is seen mainly by his specific reference to Africa as the "Fatherland" of the Black man. He equally emphasises the need to leave "Babylon", the place of captivity where Black people face segregation rather than integration. This is why "... Leaving Babylon now" and "going to our Father's land" is presented as a condition needed to "Drive away transgression /through equality" and to "set the justice pace/ set the captives free". This evocation of a trans-Atlantic Negro bridge is akin to Garvey's conviction that:
The historical allusion to the experience of Hebrews in captivity in ancient times, their Diaspora and eventual revival and Statehood in the middle of the twentieth century confers a measure of sanctity on the pan-African movement. It presents its eventual victory and progress as inevitable. Again, the use of the rhetorical question: "Are you satisfied with the life you're living?" is a direct appeal to the audience to lend active support to the movement. The explicit indication of the destination, urgency, time, and nature of the exodus makes this song a brilliant transposition of Marcus Garvey's "Back to Africa" advocacy into a potent aspiration of Black liberation and the affirmation of Negro identity. In the light of these examples we cannot but agree with Cooper that: "Reggae music, like jazz and blues, is a bridge of sound that ensures safe passage across the many bodies of water that dis/connect African peoples dispersed across the globe."
This opinion concurs with the message of another of Marley's songs, "Zion Train". The song implicitly admonishes Black people to get on board the "Zion Train which is coming our way". The appeal is for the revival of Africa in the manner of the Hebrews whose "Two thousand years of history/ Could not be wiped out so easily." In this song the use of Biblical images and the train is intended to evoke pious devotion to the cause and massive adherence of throngs as large as those to be transported by Marcus Garvey's fleet of ships in the "Black Star Liner". The defense of Black identity, values and unity, which Marley says should not be exchanged for the values of the oppressor's culture, are indicated in the words: "Don't gain the world and lose your soul/Life is worth more than silver and gold." This feature of reggae music endorses the idea that: "Social values may also inspire and guide the content of artistic expression."
The succinctness and poetic texture of these songs lend them a rhetorical efficacy, especially when we consider, as Susanne Langer puts it, that: "In a rhetorical... the writer's aim is to make the conclusion of the represented argument look acceptable rather than to make the argument entirely visible."
Again, the devotion among reggae musicians to revive the Black race to its former glory is not just evoked in Messianic parallels to the Hebrew experience, but also to the unearthing of Messianic ancestry of Black people. This desire to infuse Black revival with messianic authorization has seen the exaltation of Ethiopianism and the projection of the late Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, to the status of at least a prophet. His pre-Imperial name, Ras Tafari Makonnen, is the stem-word for the movement, "Rastafarianism" which is closely associated with reggae musicians. Stephen King notes that: "When the Gleaner published photos of Selassie's coronation, some Jamaicans consulted their Bibles and subsequently believed Selassie was literally the "King of Kings," the Black Messiah." A reference to Emperor Haile Selassie I in reggae songs evokes notions of Black people as an elect race. This development is reminiscent of earlier efforts by pan-Africanists to trace their Christianity, not to post-Reformation European evangelistic action or even to African Church Fathers such as St. Augustine, Tertulian, Athanasuis, Monica and Cyprian, but to the ancient Christian Kingdoms of Ethiopia and Egypt. Garvey, for instance, opined that:
The immense reverence for the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in reggae music must be understood in the light of the said Biblical and Messianic foundations of Ethiopianism. Menelik I, a son, of the Biblical King Solomon and the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba (according to records of ancient Ethiopian tradition the Kebra Nagast, "The Glory of Kings") becomes a source of religious and racial link of identity. Thus, the glory attributed to the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Sellassie I is further traced to the victory of Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia, over invading Italian armies on March 1, 1896, at the battle of Adowa. Being a grand nephew of the victor of Adowa, Emperor Haile Selassie I attracted enough credit and respect equally on account of his own resistance against Italian armies during World War II and his occupancy of the ancient throne of Ethiopia. He was thus, a symbol of the Black messianic "roots of David", the epitome and surety of the much desired victory of Black armies over White during the African liberation wars, as well as a bulwark and hope of Black unity. His visit to Jamaica in 1966, upon the invitation of the Jamaican Government, further enhanced his admiration by reggae musicians.
In the song entitled "Jah Pretty Face", for instance, the group Culture speaks of gentiles called by Natty Dread to "Come to look upon Jah pretty, pretty face." One notes the Joy of the persona of the song as akin to that of pilgrims admiring the "face" - a synecdoche expressing the person - of the Emperor. "I and I are gone to see King Rastafari I/To look upon Jah pretty, pretty face/.... Rasta are the roots of David/Haleluya/Shout it out." runs part of the song. "War", a song by Bob Marley, also projects this Black Emperor in that almost all the words of that song are adopted from a speech by him. It is to him again that Marley refers when he says: 'We uphold the teachings of his Majesty/Mr. Speaker/We no want no devil philosophy/.../I know Jah never will let us down."
Reggae musicians did not seem to favour the appeals to non-violent political action advocated by the Rastafarianism to which they adhered. Several influences explain their rejection of non-violence, or the preference for militant rhetoric found in reggae music. These include the perceptions of Marcus Garvey who had justified, if not sanctified, the use of violence as a viable political method by Black people in these words:
Another factor was the rise of armed struggle against European colonization of the African continent. At the 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress, for instance, delegates had resolved that: "We are determined to be free, but if the Western world is still determined to rule mankind by force, then Africa, as a last resort, may have to appeal to force in the effort to achieve freedom...." This threat had materialized by the late 1960s, and reggae music chanted its legitimacy in the 1970s and 80s. Themes of historic resistance to colonial military intrusion served as a source of inspiration to reggae musicians' support of armed struggle against colonialism and apartheid. The historic military struggle led by Almamy Samori Touré against the French in nineteenth century West Africa, for instance, is the subject of Alpha Blondy's song "Bori Samori".
The emancipatory and pan-Africanist dimension of reggae rhetoric was equally enhanced by the militancy of the Civil Rights movement in the USA. Even the advocates of non-violence among its leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., could not help framing his emancipatory rhetoric of non-violence in metaphors of violence. For instance, he cautioned in 1963 thus: "There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges."
Thus, when several reggae musicians, including Jimmy Cliff, toured Africa in the late 1970s, the African liberation wars were in full gear, or had already ended in African countries like Guinea Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Songs like "War" and "Apartheid" by Marley and Tosh respectively are examples of reggae music that lauded the liberation war effort in Africa. It is from this and other perspective that one can perceive the general rhetorical import of popular reggae tropes. Phrases and expressions such as "A Blackman Redemption", "Black Star Liner", "We love to fight for our right", "The Babylon system is a vampire", or "Jah will mow down the concrete jungle", "Downpressor man", "Jah's pretty, pretty face", "Them belly full but we hungry", "Burning and looting", "Brothers have to fight against apartheid", are expressions intended to attract and hold the social, political and economic attention of a pan-African audience.
It is also worthy of note that in reggae performance this verbal or linguistic aspect is buttressed by a gymnastic dimension in which the gestures and steps of tiredness which accompany the narratives of the song symbolize the resisting posture of the persona and a desire to break free from physical and mental subjugation. The jumping, trotting, raised arms, and clenched fist of a singer are thus the gymnastic overflow of a statement of Black identity and equality. The aesthetic and the utilitarian thus merge to produce an oral performance appropriate to the seriousness of the matter presented in the message. The pan-Africanist import of this message makes it a performance in which pan-African reggae artists reveal the: "rich and bitter depth of their experience, the unknown treasures of their inner life, the strange rendering of nature they have seen"
The pan-Africanist dimensions of reggae music may be summed up by indicating that whatever its mood - the recriminatory anger of Peter Tosh, the mystical outburst of Culture and Burning Spear, the encomium of ancestral and pre-colonial figures of Alpha Blondy, and the hopeful lamentation of Lucky Dube - one notices a common factor of commitment to the African cause. We also realize that the skills deployed to effect this are reminiscent of those recommended by Cicero when he required of every effective orator:
... a thorough knowledge of literature, a grounding in philosophy, legal expertise, a storehouse of history, the capacity to tie up an opponent and reduce the jury to laughter, the ability to lay down general principles applicable to the particular case, entertaining digressions, the power of rousing the emotions of anger or pity, the faculty of directing his intellect to the point immediately essential. 
The tones and skills become all the more remarkable, used as they are for the worthy causes of anti-colonial freedom, racial equality and Black identity and revival. These songs took the struggle of African revivalism from the arena of political discourse to the masses of people in the discotheques and other places of relaxation. In this sense reggae music can be said to be a significant instrument in the pan-Africanist concern which Marcus Garvey expressed in 1920 as follows:
 An Italian word meaning "Resurrection". The liberation and unification of Italy from Austro-Hungarian Imperial rule in the second half of the nineteenth century through the ideas and work of Mazzini, Cavour, and Garibaldi is referred to as the Italian Risorgimento.
 Fontaine, William T.. 'Toward a Philosophy of American Negro Literature' in Présence Africaine 24-25, February-May 1959, p.166.
 Abrams, M. H.. A Glossary of Library terms. London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1993, p.180.
 Bob Marley and the Wailers. Trench Town, Confrontation, New York, Island Records, 1990.
 King, Stephen A.. 'International Reggae, Democratic Socialism, and the Secularization of the Rastafarian Movement, 1972-1980' in Popular Music and Society. Vol. 22, no. 3, Fall 1998 p. 39.
 Campbell, Horace. Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney. Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World, 1987, p.134.
 Encarta Encyclopedia. 1996, Bob Marley.
 Luther King Jr., Martin. A Call to Conscience (or "I've Been to the Mountaintop"). Speech, April 03, 1968, Memphis Tennessee.
 A rhetorical question is a sentence in the grammatical form of a question which is not asked in order to request information or to invite a reply, but to achieve an expressive force different from, and usually more effective than, a direct assertion. (Abrahams, p.183).
 Bob Marley and the Wailers. Redemption Song, Uprising, New York , Island Records, 1990.
 Bob Marley and the Wailers. Buffalo Soldier, Confrontation, New York, Island Records, 1990.
 Dubois, W.E.B.. Cited in Davidson, Basil. Which Way Africa: The Challenge of the 70s. London: Penguin, 1964, p.34.
 Garvey, Marcus. 'Appeal to the Soul of White America'. Negro World, October 1923, p.23.
 Bob Marley and the Wailers. Exodus, Confrontation, New York, Island Records, 1990
 Garvey, Marcus. 'Appeal to the Soul of White America'. Negro World, October 1923, p.35.
 Bob Marley and the Wailers. Exodus, Confrontation, New York, Island Records, 1990.
 Cooper, Carolyn. 'Race and Cultural Politics of Self-Representation: A view from the University of the West Indies' in Research in African Literatures Vol. 27, No. 4, Winter 1996, p. 103.
 Bob Marley and the Wailers. Zion Train, New York, Island Records, 1990
 Harrison, Daphne A.. 'Aesthetic and social Aspects of Music in African Ritual Settings' in Jackson, Irene V. (ed.). More Than Drumming: Essays on African and Afro-Latin American Music and Musicians. London: Greenwood Press, 1985, p.51.
 Langer, Susanne. Feeling and Form. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited, 1953, pp.302-303
 King, Stephen A.. 'International Reggae, Democratic Socialism, and the Secularization of the Rastafarian Movement, 1972-1980' in Popular Music and Society Vol. 22, No. 3, Fall 1998, p.33.
 Garvey, Marcus. 'Appeal to the Soul of White America' Negro World, October 1923, p.34.
 Culture, Jah Pretty Face.
 Bob Marley and the Wailers. Uprising, New York, Island Records, 1990.
 ibid., p.33.
 Davidson, Basil. Which Way Africa: The Challenge of the 70s. London: Penguin, 1964, p.64.
 Luther King Jr., Martin. I have a Dream. Speech. Washington DC. August 28, 1963.
 Dubois, W.E.B.. "Training the Blackmen" in Atlanta Monthly 90, 1902, pp.289-297
 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. Macropaedia, Volume 4, 15th Edition. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1975, p.609.
 Marcus Garvey. "Address to Delegates of the NUIA on August 01, 1920, New York". Cited in Garvey, Amy Jacques. Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey or "Africa for the Africans". London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1988, p.34
Kwaku Asante-Darko currently lectures in African and European Literature at the National University of Lesotho in Southern Africa. After studying History, Literature, and French Language in Kumasi, Ghana, where he was born some three decades ago, he proceeded for further studies in French and International Relations at Universite Stendhal and Universite Pierre Mendes France, both in Grenoble, France. His current research interest is in the areas of race and literature, as well as Pan-Africanism. Most recent publications include articles in Mots Pluriels No. 6, May 1998, and No. 8, October 1998. Arobase Vol. 3, No. 1, Winter 1998.Nordic Journal of African Studies. Vol 8 No. 1, 1999; Lesotho Journal of Law and Development. Vol. 10, 1999.