Thousands of Bob Marley fans gathered in the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today (01FEB05) for the start a month of festivities marking the 60th anniversary of the reggae icon's birthday.

Marley, who died of cancer in 1981 after winning acclaim for his socially-conscious music, helped popularise the Rastafarian religion which venerates late Ethiopian Emperor HAILE SELASSIE as an incarnation of God.

The celebrations began with a colourful ceremony featuring prayer and music at Addis Ababa's city hall, kicking off weeks of events including concerts, film festivals and debates.

Organizers say up to 300,000 people are expected to converge on the city's Meskal square on Sunday (06FEB05) for a birthday tribute to GET UP STAND UP singer Marley.

The musical extravaganza will feature, among others, Shaggy, ANGELIQUE KIDJO and India.ARIE as well as members of the Marley family. Former South African President Nelson Mandela is also expected to attend.

Ethiopia's government will honour Marley with a monument on one of Addis Ababa's popular avenues and a park to be named after the singer at Entoto, the mountain chain surrounding the city where EMPEROR MENELIK II built his capital in the 20th century.

01/02/2005 21:18