Bob Marley’s Zimbabwe Independence Performance (ca. 1980)

3 mins read

To celebrate the country’s liberation from colonial rule, Bob Marley and The Wailers performed at the Zimbabwe Independence Celebration ceremony at Rufaro Stadium on April 18, 1980. Throughout the liberation struggle Guerrillas listened to Marley’s inspirational lyrics on cassette tapes, the chance to see the band perform live was an unimaginable dream come true.

At 8:30 PM, Zimbabwe’s flag was raised and the first official words uttered were: “Ladies and Gentlemen, Bob Marley and The Wailers! As soon as Bob took to the stage, crowds that could not fit in the stadium and had congregated outside, broke through the gates to join the festivities. In a state of panic, police tear-gassed parts of the crowd; members of Marley’s entourage, including his wife, Rita, got caught in the smoke. Only after the crowd had calmed down a bit did Marley come on stage, oblivious to the pandemonium but sharply aware of just how deeply his presence was felt and cherished. Bob returned to the stage shouting “Freedom!”
After hearing that so many people were waiting outside and desperately trying to get in to see him play, Marley agreed to perform a free concert the following night for fans. On April 19, 1980  Bob Marley and The Wailers — consisting of drummer Carlton Barrett, bassist Aston Barrett, guitarists Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, keyboardist Tyrone Downie, percussionist Alvin Patterson and vocalists The I-Threes including Bob’s wife Rita Marley — returned to the same venue to perform another concert.

Marley paid his way to play

It should also be noted that when invited to play at the event, the Zimbabwe government – with little idea about the logistics of putting on such a concert – were unable to finance getting the band and their equipment over to Africa. So, in true Bob Marley fashion, he decided to finance the trip himself and hired a plane to take everyone and their gear over to Salisbury.

Touched by the rebel soldiers’ story and honored that they would want Marley to come and play at their country’s inauguration, Marley accepted the offer anyway and spent $80,000 of his own money to transport himself, his band, and their equipment to play at the event.

Set list

01 – Natural Mystic (0:15)
02 – Positive Vibration (3:34)
03 – Roots, Rock, Reggae (8:46)
04 – Lively Up Yourself (13:51)
05 – Speech & Intro Zimbabwe (18:52)
06 – Zimbabwe (19:25)
07 – Running Away / Crazy Baldhead (23:00)
08 – Get Up, Stand Up (29:19)
09 – Exodus (34:50)

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