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


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

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.

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