The Secret Of How We Used Reggae Music As A Survival Tool In Africa

Cliff 7

A major figure in world music, Jimmy Cliff has painstakingly crossed many rivers to become an international superstar.

Life is very tough and full of lessons. In Africa, during our school days and darkest periods, to avoid social problems we fought to stay focused. On Sundays, we listen to whatever the preacher tells us, but away from the pastors sight, we used the reggae music as a tool to direct us on the right track and expressed our emotions.

In the sixties and seventies in Ghana, we listened to the songs of reggae pioneers, such as John Holt, Desmond Decker etc, but the musician whose songs played a significant role in our lives is Jimmy Cliff. His music was encouraging and inspiring.  It educated and made us tough in our environment with the desire to succeed in life. Below are some of the selected tunes of Jimmy Cliff we dwelled on.

Hard Road To Travel

We listened to reggae from dusk till dawn and the lyric encouragement helps us let go of suppressed feelings.

“It’s a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go, but I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed, my mind’s made up, I’ll never stop, my faith will see, see me through,” sings Jimmy Cliff. The hope and faith we had from such songs became our tool for survival.

Struggling Man

Everyman has a right to live, Love is all that we have to give, Together we struggle by your will to survive, Then together we fight just to stay alive, Struggling man has got to move
Struggling man, no time to lose, I’m a struggling man And I’ve got to move on.

Born To Win

I am born to win, Been lost and found, turned upside down, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Been cast aside and been despised, uhm, uhm, uhm, But I’m Daniel in the lion’s den, and Jonah in the belly of the whale, I’m not alone so I cannot fail, no, no, no. And I’m born to win.

Sitting In Limbo

Sitting here in Limbo, Waiting for the tide turn, Yeah, now, sitting here in Limbo, So many things I’ve got to learn, Meanwhile, they’re putting up a resistance,  But I know that my faith will lead me on.

You Can Get It If You Really Want

You can get it if you really want, You can get it if you really want, You can get it if you really want, But you must try, try and try, try and try ,You’ll succeed at last.

While we listen to such encouraging lyrics we are inspired in such a way that we don’t feel the pain we go through in our daily hustle, often eliminating the boredomness and depression. Even though Reggae music is not much promoted commercially by MTV, the power of the music can’t be denied.

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Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh were both against Apartheid in South Africa. In the picture, Jimmy Cliff wears T-Shirt with the picture of murdered South African hero, Steve Biko

Synthetic World

Your world is plastic; Can see through to the other side, Your cities are made of wood, Antiques are what you’ve got inside, Houses are paper but folks don’t hear a word you say
Friendship’s like acid, It burns, burns, burns as it slides away.

House of Exile

There’s a day of feasting and a day of famine, Day of sadness and a day of joy, You could see in the day of feasting, Life isn’t just a little play-like toy., So the day arrived when you least expected, Cos you always thought you were well protected, Now you feel like a fish out of water, So now you’re wondering what’s the matter.

“You can change the style, Of playing reggae, You can change the Rhythm of playing reggae, But never ever, Change the message,” sings Lucky Dube in Reggae Strong, because it’s a music that carries the message of truth and the light. If you don’t like the truth, you can never be a friend of reggae.

The Amazon page of Jimmy Cliff: http://www.amazon.com/Jimmy-Cliff/e/B000AR8LMC

Jimmy Cliff’s Inspirational ‘Dear Mother’ Lyrics

Cliff 2Jimmy Cliff’s classic album: Follow My Mind.

Apart from Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Toots & The Maytals, John Holt, Desmond Decker etc, and other early Jamaican musicians that provided a solid foundation for the reggae music, Jimmy Cliff is one of the  musical legends that rose to international stardom with uncountable hits and numerous albums. 

In this article, it’s not my intention to write about Jimmy Cliff’s biography or achievements in the field of music, since there are hundreds of articles about this great musician and perfect gentleman appointed ‘Peace Ambassador’ by the United Nations, but to share some of his inspiring lyrics.

In 1976, Jimmy Cliff came out with one of his masterpiece albums entitled ‘Follow My Mind.’ On this album were “I’m Gonna Live, I’m Gonna Love, Dear Mother, Remake The World, Wahjahka Man, Going Mad, You’re The Only One, If I follow My Mind, Look At The Mountains, No Woman No Cry, Who Feels It Knows It and Hypocrites.”

One of my favorite songs on this album which sold worldwide is “Dear Mother.” From generation to generation, the lyrics of this great song continue to inspire me, to love my mother more and more, since she still lives, after losing my father when he was just 43. Below  is the lyric of Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Dear Mother.’ Enjoy Jimmy Cliff’s great tunes and golden voice in his film The Harder They Come.’

Dear Mother

Do you have a dear mother

Kind, devoted and true
Dear mother I’m sending to you
Best wishes and all the day through
May your days be cloudless and clear
Bringing to you true happiness each day and night of the year

She’s my mother
And I love her so
More than any other
Anywhere I go

Do you have a dear mother
Kind, devoted and true
Dear mother may all that is fair
Come to you right through the year
While I was a child you were my god
You were always dear to me and always were by my side

She’s my mother
And I love her so, yes I do
More than any other
Anywhere I go

Do you have a dear mother
So devoted and true
Dear mother I’m sending to you
Best wishes and all the day through
May your days be cloudless and clear
Bringing to you true happiness each day and night of the year

She’s my mother
And I love her so, yes I do
More than any other
Anywhere I go, talking ’bout my mother

She’s my mother
And I love her so
More than any other, woman in this world
Anywhere I go

She’s my mother

Listen to ‘Dear Mother’ : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f1WZOZUku4

http://www.amazon.com/Jimmy-Cliff/e/B000AR8LMC

Jimmy Cliff: Crossing Many Rivers To Peace Ambassador

The influence of Jimmy Cliff’s music in Africa was experienced in the early sixties, even though the seed of reggae was taken from Africa to the Caribbean. On the radio daily, was the music of Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Decker, Toots and The Maytals, John Holt etc, giving the chance for music lovers to know a group which changed the reggae dimension in Jamaica, as ‘The Wailers, then became ‘Bob Marley and the Wailers.’

Jimmy Cliff

Born as James Chambers on April 1, 1948, in Somerton District, St James, Jamaica, Jimmy Cliff began his career as an actor and musician, writing songs when still in primary school. During his education, Jimmy Cliff entered local talent contests and pursued potential producers. Jimmy excelled to be one of the greatest international musicians while in his native country Jamaica.

He recorded classic songs such as ‘Many Rivers To Cross, Born To Win, Struggling Man, House Of Exile, Sitting In Limbo, Wonderful World, Beautiful People, Music Maker, You Can Get It, If You Really Want, etc, making him king of reggae, long before Bob Marley’s name was heard. He has been a figure of major influence on the international music scene for over three decades.

Big Passion

When Paul Simon heard his hit ‘Vietnam’ he travelled down to Kingston, Jamaica to use the tune to record his hit ‘Mother And Child Reunion.’ Jimmy Cliff has recorded over twenty classic albums. A peaceful, respectful gentleman, he was appointed ‘Peace Ambassador’ by the United Nations, to foster good relations between the ECOWAS region in West Africa.

On his way to Freetown, Sierra Leone, the reggae superstar and music legend, stopped over in Accra, Ghana. He called on African governments across the continent to resist all forms of foreign influences saying “we do not want foreigners to rule us anymore.” He advised Africans to be wary of the influence of foreign culture to the detriment of development on the continent.

Jimmy Cliff went on to say that China and Japan have forged ahead with progress because they have maintained their cultural identity and way of life. “My mother and father separated when I was a baby and my mother wasn’t really around. My most important relationships were with my father and grandmother. You can get it if you really want,” says the music legend.

http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Reggae-African-Music-ebook/dp/B013L9A1JQ