The CLR James Journal

Volume 27, Issue 1/2, Fall 2021

Decolonizing Spiritualities

Lawrence Bamikole
Pages 273-289

Bob Marley and Frantz Fanon: Two Perspectives on Liberation

As individuals and social activists, Bob Marley and Frantz Fanon appear to stand in paradoxical relations with one another. In some ways, they were kindred, coming from the same physical and social spaces—Marley from Jamaica and Fanon from Martinique. As social activists, they spoke the same language of liberation that transcends their local and regional realities—specifically; both were globalists as the theory of liberation is concerned. However, Marley and Fanon, to certain extents, differed in relation to the means of liberation. While Marley sometimes vacillated on the use of violence for liberation, Fanon was emphatic that violence is a veritable means of liberation. While Marley looked back for the ingredients of the liberation process, Fanon believed that moving forward to the future is the tool kit of liberation. The paper places Marley’s and Fanon’s notions of liberation within the context of the existential issues raised by the twin phenomena of slavery and colonialism. The paper situates Marley and Fanon along the poeticist and historicist analytical framework enunciated by Paget Henry (2000). While Marley could be identified with the poeticist school which advocates for a reconstruction of the past as a means of liberation, Fanon’s historicism projects an alternative reality to replace the past in order to liberate the oppressed. The paper argues that both positions can be reconciled to achieve a coherent theory of liberation, which is the mitigation of the situation of the oppressed and the powerless in Caribbean society and the world in general.