An Encounter With Blackness in Amsterdam

The Dam square, a major tourist trap in Amsterdam, is one of its busiest locations, often teeming with visitors flowing from the streets of Kalverstraat, Damstraat and Nieuwendijk in the heart of the Amsterdam canal zone.

Dam Square is within walking distance of the Red-Light district and the Amsterdam Central Station. On the east side of the tram tracks is the Amsterdam national monument, a prominent obelisk erected in 1956 in memory of the World War II soldiers, that I hardly noticed when I arrived in Amsterdam in September 2019 from Nairobi, Kenya.

The Awakened Man. 10 Lessons From Old Marcus Garvey

The first time I heard the name Marcus, was in the lyrics of a Burning Spear song in high school from my two natty dread friends. They hailed Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Burning Spear as demigods, gifts to mankind and invariably we all became converts of roots and conscious reggae music.  They had one mixed tape, that they played over again and it served as my introduction to the reggae elders.

On slow Saturday nights, usually past 11, when everyone was broke and bored out of their minds, they sneaked in a battery power cassette player and entertained the massive. The musical offering was lean and as sure as the sun would set, they would play two iconic songs from Burning Spear and Bob Marley on repeat. The volume was never loud, so as not to attract the attention of nosy teachers and envious prefects but on those silent nights, when half the dorm was asleep, it was seductive.

As soon as the trumpets sounded at the start of the song, Old Marcus Garvey, we would anticipate the gruff voice of Burning Spear, ready to join in chorus…

No one remember, old Marcus Garvey
No one remember, old Marcus Garveeey