BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” Brother Bob made some riveting statements during his time, all which have lived on as part of his legacy. The words he spoke held a truth that could not be explained any other way. He was a wise man who made a deep impact in the country of Jamaica, taking his songs and teachings worldwide.
In a city saturated by the deep cultural heritage of the Jamaican people, Kingston has found itself unappreciated by tourists travelling to Jamaica. On more than one occasion I have had people tell me of the beautiful turquoise seas and white sand beaches in the popular tourist locations of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, but no one has ever mentioned going to Kingston. As the capital city of Jamaica, you would think there would be more of an excitement to travel there and immerse yourself in the country’s history. While arts, culture and entertainment are a prominent part of the city, there is one attraction on top of the list of must-sees in Kingston.
Even if you are headed to the beach, take time out of your schedule to head down to Kingston Jamaica to visit 56 Hope Road the home and residence of legendary reggae singer Bob Marley.
When you first enter the compound the walls are covered in mural style photos and paintings of some of the most well known highlights in Bob’s life, while living at the house and touring the globe with the Wailers. Everywhere you look there are vibrant bursts of color. Most prominent of them all is the yellow house dominating the center of the property.
At the front of the house standing tall is a statue in Bob’s likeness, with his finger pointed towards the heavens in his signature one love pose. On either side are two lions and painted at the base of the statue is a portrait of his three little birds and the prophet Sir Marcus Garvey Jamaican Civil Rights leader and activist.
Miss Susan Maxwell, a bubbly ball of energy conducted the tour of the house with such a refreshing and engaging presence, it left little room for distraction as we listened to her prattle away recollecting the stories of Bob’s life. Bob purchased the Marley Home, which currently serves as the Bob Marley Museum in 1975 from Island Records Boss, Chris Blackwell. In 1986 Bob’s widow Mrs. Rita Marley implemented the Museum, which is currently being managed by their eldest daughter Cedella Marley. On May 31, 2001, the Government of Jamaica declared the museum a protected National Heritage Site.
When you enter the house there is an over whelming presence of memories and inspiration throughout the air. Every room has a unique personality hosting various displays of photographs and all of his Gold and Platinum Selling albums. In various rooms of the house you can find Bob’s Lifetime Achievement Award which he received in 2001, his Order of Merit medal from 1981. In his recording studio there hangs a genuine Lion’s tail that he received as a gift during his tour in Africa and an exhibit of some of his favourite items of clothing like his trademark denim shirt and khaki pants.
The tour of the main house concluded with a glimpse into the legend’s bedroom. Unable to pass the threshold of his dwelling, Bob’s room was staged just as he had left it all those years ago, his bed made up in his favourite denim sheets and his bible open on the nightstand keeping some of his ‘special herb’ safe for when he returns.
After the tour of the main house Susan took us down to the first floor kitchen around the back of the house where an attempt on Bob’s life had taken place. The area is now furnished with newspaper clippings of the event, and the walls are marked from the deadly bullets that almost took his life.
Walking over the ground where a legend once stood is truly a humbling experience. To know that he once sat on the marble steps in front of his home smoking his special herb, or sat under his favourite tree in the yard rolling a splif, grounds him as a symbol of hope and freedom to the people of the world. Bob’s music has become the signature soundtrack to the lives of people worldwide and the experience standing in that house leaves you feeling nothing less than ‘irie’.