Socialist Worker

Searching for the roots of Reggae’s liberatory sound

by Lois Brown
Issue No. 2530



Roots, Reggae and Rebellion, presented by the politically-charged rapper and poet Akala, is a journey through the rise of the movement.

In this BBC Four programme—and also a Radio 4 series—he takes us from its beginnings in Jamaica in the 1960s to the 1970s when the music became engrained in British culture. It ends by looking at the genre’s influence on contemporary music, such as grime.

The programme is supported by archive footage and interviews with academics, musicians and people who grew up listening to the music.

It offers up a fully rounded view of the impact it had on the people of Jamaica and those surrounding the scene.

We see how Roots was seen as part of a new revolution, where Jamaicans could define their own identities outside colonial rule.


Getting to the core of the music, Akala importantly focuses on Roots’ connection to the religion of Rastafari.

He shows the powerful influence it had on the followers, who wanted to reconnect with their African heritages.

The programme also highlights the Jamaican state’s constant attempt to abolish this uprising, even after the country won independence from Britain in 1962.

Rastafarians were still stigmatised as criminals, until a visit by their figurehead Emperor Haile Selassie in 1966 drew a gathering of 100,000 people. The realisation of the power of the religion, transcended the nation and was the catalyst for the growth of Roots Reggae.

Roots, Reggae and Rebellion touches upon musical greats such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh and captures the beauty of the connection between music and resistance.

It was music made to elevate consciousness, but most significantly it’s about uniting people together through struggle.

Roots, reggae and Rebelllion, Presented by Akala, Available on

Portrait of Palestine—with Tim Sanders and friends

Tower hamlets Palestine Solidarity Campaign is holding a special launch party with illustrator and cartoonist Tim Sanders.

Tim Sanders

Tim Sanders

As well as being Socialist Worker’s cartoonist, Tim travelled to Palestine with the Jenin Freedom Theatre last year.

Here Tim will present the images he drew of life in the occupied West Bank. His limited edition prints will be available to buy.

Momim Swaitat, a Palestinian performer, will also talk about the challenges that Palestinian artists face.

See Socialist Worker’s interview and picture spread of Tim’s work from Palestine here:

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Article information

Tue 15 Nov 2016, 16:37 GMT
Issue No. 2530
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