When Bob Marley arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport in late February 1978, it had been two years since he had left Jamaica. He had fled the country in December 1976, following an assassination attempt on his life.
The reggae star returned to Kingston for the “One Love Peace Concert,” scheduled for Saturday, April 22 at the National Stadium. Two years earlier, he had been shot in the arm while rehearsing for the “Smile Jamaica” show, another event meant to bring peace among Jamaica’s political factions.
Marley, who died in May 1981, would have turned 68 today. Two months from now will be the 25th anniversary of the “One Love Peace Concert,” where he briefly brought then bitter adversaries Prime Minister Michael Manley and Opposition Leader Edward Seaga together in a symbolic truce.
Manley was the charismatic socialist leader of the People’s National Party. Seaga headed the conservative Jamaica Labour Party, which opposed Manley’s radical policies and close ties with communist Cuba.
Tommy Cowan was head of Talent Corporation at the time and helped market Marley’s music in Jamaica. He met him at the airport and remembers a joyous homecoming.
“A lot of the brethren came out to see him. There was a motorcade and a lot of jubilation,” Cowan recalled.
Read more: JamaicaObserver