This is one of my favourite album covers. Most people who like Bob Marley’s music and respect his Africanist ideology know that “EXODUS” is written in the ancient Abyssinian script known as “Ge’ez”. Ge’ez, like Aramaic, is the mother tongue of Amharic (Ethiopia’s official language) and Tigrigna (Eritrea’s official language).

These are beautiful languages because their emphasis on phonetics -i.e. each sound has a different script- gives it detail and consistency. It is detailed because there are about 207 characters in the alphabet. It is consistent because once you know the drill, you know the language. For each sound there is a different signifier. For each sound “oo” (“hoo”, “loo”, “moo”, “shoo”) there is a stick that comes out of the character on the right side.

Bob Marley resisted using the latin script on his album cover as a way to situate himself as an African, which, of course, he is. He flips the letters around and very cleverly made them look like the latin scipt so they spell “Exodus”. His exodus, and the exodus of black people from Africa in general, is something he never forgot. Bob Marley is a legend because he was not afraid to remember.