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Africa Unites On DVD

10 Dec, 2007 By: Billy Gil

Ziggy Marley

In 2005 Bob Marley would have been 60 years old. Since his death in 1981, Marley's music and words have continued to not only entertain, but also inspire people around the globe into becoming politically and socially aware.

In celebration of Marley's life and message, the Bob Marley and the Rita Marley Foundations started an annual concert in 2005 aimed at promoting African unity. The first concert took place over 12 hours in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and attracted more than 300,000 people.

Feb. 12, 2008, Palm Pictures will release Africa Unite, a DVD chronicling the first-ever Africa Unite concert. The DVD is listed at $24.98, and orders are due Jan. 8, 2008.

Ziggy Marley, the eldest son of Bob and Rita Marley, together with other members of the Marley clan took part in the performance and film. Ziggy Marley, who himself is a Grammy-winning reggae artist (responsible for the buoyant 1989 hit “Tomorrow People,” along with backup band the Melody Makers), lends narration to the film.

“We did this concert not only to commemorate my father's birthday, but to reignite [the concept] of African unity,” Ziggy said. “The DVD really celebrates the event, but also speaks with people about the unity of Africa, and it documents the journey.”

The concert footage includes performances by the Marleys, including Ziggy, Rita, Damian, Stephen, Cedella, Julian and Ky-Mani, as well as such artists as Lauryn Hill, Angelique Kidjo, Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths. The film combines snippets of these performances with on-the-street and behind-the-scenes footage, along with plenty of Bob Marley songs as soundtrack.

The film was directed by Stephanie Black, who has worked with the Marleys in the past on the film Life and Debt, about Jamaica's post-independence economy. It was produced by Rita and Cedella Marley (with Tuff Gong Pictures, the Marleys' film production company), Joslyn Barnes, and actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover (Glover also appears in the film).

Ziggy Marley said his personal goal in becoming involved with the project is to bring African unity back to the foreground, as well as raise money for various charities.

“I didn't want it to be about us,” Marley said. “The main focus is about African unity and Africa. That's where my input came in.”

Africa Unite was postponed for 2007, but the event's official Web site says it will come back Feb. 1-23, 2008, in Jamaica.

Separately, Ziggy Marley is working on a DVD from his “Love Is My Religion” tour that should street in early 2008. Marley has worked on music for several films, contributed his voice acting skills to the 2004 DreamWorks film Shark Tale and remains active with Tuff Gong Pictures.

“We continue to find ways outside of music to get across what we want to get across, whether it's through movies and DVDs or other means,” Marley said of Tuff Gong. “Two or three years from now, you'll see even more creative things from us … and more films.”

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