In a well-known voice of the British Cypriot culture PAUL LAMBIS finds a musician who also doubles as an academic
Haji Mike is much better known in Cyprus as a musician than an academic, although as Mike Hajimichael, he has written numerous journal papers, book chapters, and books over the past 25 years.
However, behind the portrait of a talented musician and artistic creator, with multiple successful albums, unique music tracks, and publications to his credit, lurks an academic persona – that of an Associate Professor and Head of The Department of Communications at the University of Nicosia where he has worked since 1998.
“Very few people ask me about the various dimensions of my life; they’re usually focused on one or two things,” he said. “I earned a BA degree in Government Sociology and an MA in Literature at Essex University. Later on, I did a PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, which defined many aspects of my academic, cultural, and political perspectives; all of that was happening parallel to my musical development as an artist and DJ.”
His new book, Bob Marley and Media: Representation and Audiences, published by Rowman & Littlefield, aims to change this. Even before the book was released in mid-February of this year, the Institute of Caribbean Studies at The University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica invited him to give the prestigious 26th Annual Bob Marley Lecture.
He was incredibly humbled to be one of the few non-Jamaican academics invited to deliver the talk. “Academically, I reached a pinnacle when I spoke about my new book,” he told Cyprus Mail. “Jamaica is a vibrant country where art, heritage, and culture are present everywhere. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I will always remember it.”
One of the foremost experts on Bob Marley, Roger Steffens, calls Hajimichael’s book “a true revelation.”
“This book is important for academics and lay-persons alike, a one-of-a-kind study, not only entertaining but truly enlightening,” Steffens said.
“The book is a significant addition to literature,” says Dr. Dennis Howard of The University of the West Indies (UWI). “This ethnographic examination of Bob Marley’s media coverage is engaging, painstakingly detailed, and touches on the humanity of Marley in a way very few books have done before. Hajimichael accurately captures Western media’s subaltern gaze.”
The University of Nicosia’s UNESCO Amphitheatre will host a book launch on March 23 at 6pm, where Mike Hajimichael will deliver a thorough presentation about the book and answer questions from the audience. In addition to Professor Nicos Trimikliniotis and Dr. Nicholas Nicoli from The University of Nicosia, Dr. Dennis Howard from UWI will also participate in the discussion.
“This is part of an international speaking tour for the publication, which includes stops in Sweden (April), Lithuania (May), the United Kingdom (June), and the United States (July),” Hajimichael added.
Although we are used to the author traveling the globe with his music, the book appears to have a major impact on the body of literature already written about Jamaican music legend Bob Marley.
When I inquired about the differences between Hajimichael’s musical and academic realms, he assured me that each is unique, exciting, and challenging in its own way.
“A book can take years to write. Writing an academic book requires you to sit down and work systematically for hours every day and necessitates a different kind of ethos and discipline.”
“However, I do not feel that way about music. Although it has taken up a significant amount of my time and energy, it has a totally distinct vibe that results from inspiration. The spark, the initial thought, is still necessary when writing an academic book, but you must build on it, expand it, write it again, and think on the matter much more,” he explained.
Bob Marley has received relatively little attention in scholarly monographs, which greatly enhances the book’s appeal. As Mike himself states about the new publication, “the vast majority of publications on Bob Marley are biographies, and generally this format on popular musicians often leaves many questions unanswered and many pages unturned, particularly given that nobody wrote an official biography, specifically on Bob Marley, while he was alive (with his consent).”
“In the book, I build an extensive catalogue of Bob Marley’s media engagements, connecting Marley to media through forms of political discourse and ideologies relevant to social change in various contexts around the world, such as civil rights, anti-racism, Rastafari, and liberation movements,” Hajimichael said.
The book is currently offered in hardback form from online retailers all over the world such as Amazon, Goodreads, Googlebooks, and the publisher’s website at www.rowman.com
It is expected that a paperback edition will be available soon. For more information about the book launch, visit https://fb.me/e/2BYLsuMHL
There is also a section on the author’s website with information about his speaking engagements at https://www.hajimike.com/bob-marley-media-research/
Meanwhile, it should be noted that Haji Mike, the singer, found time while in Jamaica to record a brand-new album titled Acoustic Poetry. “But that is a totally different story, reserved for a later date,” he concluded.