I remember when I was going to University in the early 80s all the parties would have music vibrating reggae rhythms of “Buffalo Soldier” and “One Love” playing and everyone would be dancing with so much passion and really “feeling” the music. I was in Canada at the time. I remember thinking how strange that the strength and popularity of this reggae music was coming out of a Jamaican singer (a little small island in the Caribbean) and having this magic effect on all the school friends that I mingled with. I said to myself, “Wow, Jamaica done good! What a representative Bob Marley has been for Jamaica!”
And then later after I graduated University I took a trip to a very small island all the way off in the South Pacific Ocean called Fiji and I went on a bus tour and the tour guide was telling us about the island as we drove through the hills in remote areas. All of a sudden I spotted a bus stop and written on it was “Bob Marley – Roots, Rock, Reggae!” and I thought “Wow, all the way across the world in a little remote village they are praising Bob Marley! Jamaica, you would not believe this!”
It was little nuances like these that I kept running across when I travelled. I said to myself many times, “Gosh, if only Bob knew his popularity.”
And so coming back home to Jamaica where our villa guests to Jamaica want to see the real thing, they often ask their drivers to go up to “Nine Mile”, Bob Marley’s birthplace. My friends wanted to go, but I was so hesitant. I kept thinking, “What could they really see up there?” But then I relented and went with the group. These friends came all the way from Australia, so I thought if they have travelled 26 hours on an airplane just to get to Jamaica, I had better try to make the hour journey in the van to get to Bob Marley’s birthplace. Let’s go!
Firstly, I found our driver so entertaining. I was re-discovering the “real” Jamaica. We left from Montego Bay and went across to the Discovery Bay area and up through Browns Town. I kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, this island is really beautiful.” – the mountains and views of the ocean, passing the colourful towns, the activities on the street, the markets. This trip was more than Bob Marley. It was about the country, the people, and I felt proud to be born in Jamaica! Our guests loved the sights and sounds on the drive up to “Nine Mile”! It was amazing! And when we got to the “Nine Mile” (Bob Marley’s birthplace) I could see right away a small school with Bob Marley’s influence, his popularity and moneys that were spent in the little town on behalf of his family and all the good they were doing in Bob Marley’s name. The actual tour itself was so entertaining. We were so relaxed and we sang Bob Marley songs all the way. Our Aussie friends had a blast.
Now as I reflect on this popularity of Bob Marley, I realise how much joy this Jamaican-born singer has given to so many people all over the world. It’s a simple type of pleasure in song, prose and rhythm, but Bob Marley really makes me feel proud to be Jamaican. When visiting Jamaica, there certainly is a “Mystic magic in the air”