Seeing fans and household collect in Kingston to commemorate the late artists 75th birthday, music author Vivien Goldman assesses his enduring tradition
A t 7am on 6 February, on what would have been Bob Marley ‘s 75th birthday, the abeng conch shell blows at his old house at classy Kingston’s 56 Hope Road– now the Bob Marley museum– as it performed in the days of the long-gone native Taino people, and later on as a call to servant uprisings on the plantation.
Today, the museum is the Jamaican capital’s most popular traveler ticket, drawing more than 60,000 visitors a year. In the unstable 1970s, when the downtown location was torn in between superpower ideologies and their regional paymasters, it was adventurous of Marley to place his mangy “ghetto star” Rasta team into Hope Road– likewise house to Jamaica’s prime minister– a procedure he explained to me in the 1970s as “bringing the ghetto classy”. He wanted to make a safe area for the gangs of youth who were managed on their house grass by opposing political forces: it worked, a minimum of till shooters attempted to eliminate him there in 1976 . When he triumphantly returned later on in the years to develop a studio, it worked once again.
Witnessing authorities pleasantly handling the crowd collected for the Marley 75 event provided an unusual detach: at that time, their existence outside evictions would have recommended a raid. These are various times, as evidenced by the MC who reveals: “Big approximately all the Airbnb-ers in Trench Town!”– the hazardous downtown “ghetto” of Marley’s teenage years. His message and mystique have actually mobilised a serene army of worldwide fans, such as those holidaymakers venturing where couple of rich Kingstonians go.