Remembering Bob Marley

  Artists have often reworked the music of Bob Marley for new generations. But even without the help of remixing and redoing Marley’s music still has currency. Decades after his death it seems that Marley was much more than a man of music.

The sun rose for Robert Nesta Marley in Nine Miles a small village in the hills of St. Ann in the north of Jamaica. Today it’s become something of a shrine and a tourist attraction.

People come from all over to see the place, he was born where he lived up to the age of thirteen and the place he would often return to, to write and meditate.

In some ways it is where his story started, ended and continues.

He was born in 1945 the son of a Jamaican mother and an English father. His songs and guitar licks, the small axe that would make a large impact on the music world.

He moved to Kingston the concrete jungle of Trenchtown, experiences like others that would be remembered in song. This inner city area was a place of struggle for young men then, as it is today.

For today’s youth looking for opportunity Bob’s legacy is among the things that can help.

These days the Trench town Cultural Yard hopes to bring people into the area to show a different side, something different from the fear associated with the inner-city and to suggest alternatives for those who live there.

Marley did escape through music.

The man many knew for his  rebel music the denim and dreads didn’t start out that way, he joined a vocal group whose music like that of others at the time  reflected the influence of U.S. soul and r and b,  tight harmonies and sharp suits.

Soon he would find a different source of inspiration, in Rastafarianism. He would infuse his music with the message and bring Rasta man vibration to a wider audience.

 Whilst much of his music looks at slavery, Rastafari, injustice, struggle there was still time for romance and not just as a musical theme.

As his music took off, he had no need to remain in Trenchtown and made a home in a large house on Hope Road in the centre of Kingston.

This is now a museum, pictures of Bob form a mural on a wall on the compound, inside memorabilia and sombre guides take you through the rooms where he ate,  played music and where he survived being shot.

At times his message was simple.

“Don’t worry about a thing”…. or “one love” now an often used theme for tourism commercials and sometimes a greeting of sorts.

The National Arena, in Kingston’s sporting complex is where thousands came to pay their last respects after the death of Marley. Just across the road stands a statute of Marley, surrounded by a fence that seems to proudly protect the monument to the man.

Some come to have their pictures taken with it as a backdrop, others to debate if it really resembles him and there are others in Jamaica who never really knew what the fuss was all about.

Wrangles over his estate continue, some wonder about the man behind the music and  the life he led.

One thing is clear from the steady stream of record sales, memorabilia,  the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and  induction into the Rock Hall of Fame show that he’s helped put reggae and Jamaica on the map internationally.

On the anniversary of his death, May 11th each year visitors from home and abroad make the journey to Nine Miles just to be there on that day. And if they’re not sure which road to take they simply ask the people they see on the road which way to Bob Marley?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A line in the Sand

Winfred Beach, Portland Jamaica.

Winifred Beach is not the easiest spot to find but it is well worth the effort. It requires keeping a sharp eye out when travelling east out of Port Antonia to take the correct left turn that will take you into a housing area. After that with a little more faith that you are going in the right direction  you will take a very  rough (understatement) road going downhill,  for  a while the vegetation blocks any view of the sought after shore line, leaving you to ask the  first person you see, if this is indeed the beach.

 

It really is and concerns about the journey or the front end of your vehicle melt away when you finally arrive at this serene spot. The Rough Guide to Jamaica notes it was one of the settings for the film Club Paradise and describes it as one of the most “appealing beaches in all of Jamaica.”

However, it looks like a line may be drawn in the sand both physically and metaphorically. There is a fight on in regards to the future of the beach. Over simply put, on one side those who want to keep the beach free and on the other the Urban Development Corporation which wants to develop it.

 In a letter to the Jamaica Observer newspaper, The Free Winifred Beach group says it’s not against development but stresses it wants  the property to remain a “public beach and prevent non sustainable development that will prevent Jamaicans and visitors from using the beach.”

Read more at: http://www.free-winnifred.com/

The letter was written in a response to an article in the Sunday Observer of October 2 2011, and in it the group says,

 “Our only motive is to ensure that Winifred Beach is a place where rich and poor alike can enjoy one of Jamaica”

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Rich-and-poor-will-enjoy-Winnifred-Beach_9863866

The UDC was set up in 1968 and according to its website, since then it has,

“…..significantly improved the coverage and quality of public infrastructure, in addition to introducing alternative patterns of urban settlement, including creative shelter solutions and the development of new townships.”

 

  The UDC Website says that Winifred beach is part of the Fairy Hill property in Portland that the UDC got in 1976.

 Read more: http://www.udcja.com/projects_frame.htm

  The UDC says a plan to include public beach, agriculture land, site and services and community space has been created and the organization is looking at phased development for the beach.

According to Jamaica Information Service in 2004 the UDC announced plans to upgrade the Winifred public beach in Fairy Hill Portland.

  The Free Winifred Beach group points to the Beaches act it says states that if the beach is not owned uninterrupted for twenty years it cannot be privatized the organization is asking for help to raise the money to make the case and keep the beach free.

The issue may end up on the back burner for a while,  overshadowed by the  concerns  raised by the Office of the Contractor General,  over UDC operations, and an investigation into the agency that’s been ordered by the board.

This may, at least for now hand the Free Winifred Beach group an advantage

and a chance for people to experience the beach as it is for a little while longer.