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Robert Nesta Marley Feature Section

The Boy From Nine Mile
by Cedella Marley and Gerald Hausman
Born in the village of Nine Miles in the Parish of St. Ann, Jamaica, Robert Nesta Marley learned his first songs in the busy marketplace of Kingston. Music filled his head and his heart, and Ciddy's boy Nesta knew he would grow up to be a singer. Years later, Bob Marley gave voice to a growing revolutionary spirit in songs whose stirring rhythms and healing power dissolved boundaries of age, race, culture, and religious belief. Considered a prophet within the Rastafarian spiritual community, Marley used his music to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over violence, poverty, and prejudice.
Bob Marley was a leading voice of his generation who received Jamaica's Order of Merit, the United Nations Medal of Peace, and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He made his first music on a sardine-can guitar and founded the Wailin' Wailers with friends Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh. Marley died of cancer in 1981.

While raising her own family, dynamic eldest child Cedella Marley continues her father's legacy through her work as CEO of Tuff Gong International and her involvement as a singer, songwriter, and dancer for the Melody Makers, a highly successful musical group founded by the children of Bob and Rita Marley.

Gerald Hausman has written numerous books for children and adults, including books that touch on aspects of Jamaican life: its people, animals, folklore, and the Rastafarian culture that entered worldwide awareness largely through the popularity of Bob Marley. Hausman lives near Fort Myers, Florida.

Strongly influenced by Native American and Caribbean styles, Mariah Fox has contributed art to more than two dozen books. Her company, Ital Art, provides graphic and illustrative work for a variety of companies including Tuff Gong International.

"Hey, bwai! Touch me tomato; come touch me yam, pumpkin, potato . . ."

Eldest daughter Cedella teams up with family friend and author Gerald Hausman to create a story of Bob Marley's life with a special appeal for young people

Superior storytelling, fragments of song, and colorful folk-style illustrations capture Marley's childhood and early family life in Jamaica

A unique tribute to a poet, musician, and advocate for social change whose star still blazes in the hearts of millions of people worldwide

Includes a timeline, glossary of Jamaican words, and discography


The years can't lessen Marley's mystique, fame
Nearly 25 years after his death, reggae legend Bob Marley continues to fascinate people. Thursday, a Miami International Film Festival documentary celebrates his legacy.

NINE MILE, Jamaica - In the unspoiled countryside where the remains of Jamaica's most famous son lie inside a marble crypt, children's voices wail the words of Bob Marley's legendary lyrics as curious visitors search for the secret to his prophetic wisdom.

Marley, the legendary reggae maestro who died of cancer in Miami 25 years ago, continues to be bigger in death than in life. That is true both in Jamaica, where his birthplace has become a shrine, and in his adopted home of Miami, where his mother and most of his 11 children still live. He is the subject of lectures and books, festivals and films -- there is even a Marley-themed store on South Beach.

And now comes Bob Marley & Friends, a film that will make its world premiere Thursday during the Miami International Film Festival.

But to gain a true understanding of Marley and his lasting cultural influence, one has to journey to his roots in this remote mountain village in St. Ann's Parish, 32 miles from Ocho Rios. He was born here 61 years ago last month. His mother Cedella was a young black Jamaican, and his father, Capt. Norval St. Clair Marley, was an older white Jamaican.

The town's tin roof shacks dot a winding road and stand in sharp contrast to the gated complex where Marley's childhood home and final resting place have been transformed into a tourist attraction honoring his legacy.

The attraction, outfitted in the symbolic red, green and gold colors of the Rastafarian movement, has become intrinsic to the identity of the otherwise mellow town. So much so that last year when Marley's widow, Rita, reportedly said she wanted to transfer Bob's remains to Ethiopia, the spiritual home of Rastafarianism, the people of Nine Mile declared, ``Over our dead bodies.''

Cedella Marley Booker, who has lived in South Florida since her famous son bought her a five-bedroom Pinecrest house some 30 years ago, was equally appalled, telling The Miami Herald last year that ``Nine Mile is home, that is where we born and grow up, where we know life.''

The Ethiopia-Jamaica controversy has since subsided -- with Rita Marley complaining her words had been ``twisted.''


Whatever the truth, for the people of Nine Mile, Marley is more than just a musical icon whose image has become a mass marketing tool. He is a hero, whose talent and message of love and peace allowed him to break out of Kingston's ghetto and transplant reggae music onto the international world stage.

He is a modern-day messenger whose cries for unity and peace resonate as loudly today as they did in 1981 when he died of cancer at Miami's Cedar's Medical Center.

''So much things Bob say must be done, but they don't do it,'' said Curtis Peart, a local resident, reflecting on Marley's legacy. ``Bob Marley put the whole of Jamaica on the map. I am proud to know yes, he was born here.''

Wayne Cunningham, a Rastafarian like Marley, said, ``Bob Marley is our heritage. He's like a part of us.''

The Bob Marley memorial is small and employs only a handful of workers, mostly guides who escort guests on a 30-minute tour of Marley's life. It is run by the Bob Marley Foundation, which lists Rita Marley and Booker as chairwoman and director, respectively. Although some here feel the foundation should be doing more, it has been credited with revitalizing the community.

On any given day the place is swarming with tourists who come by the busloads to learn more about Marley.

The first and last stops are the gift shop, offering every item of Marley memorabilia there is (a Jamaican company next year will begin offering a Bob Marley-brand water), followed by the restaurant, which treats visitors to both authentic Jamaican cuisine and Marley performances on a big screen television.


''Welcome to the foundation of Bob Marley,'' Jonathan ''Fuzzy'' Braham, the estate's caretaker and a Marley childhood friend, beams as he leads visitors through life-sized double oak doors bearing Marley's carved image. He remembers a young Bob playing soccer, and running between his mother's two-room house and his grandparents' home at the base of Sugar Hill.

''Bob Marley lived through the music,'' said Braham, before taking visitors inside the Ethiopian-style stained glass chapel housing his tomb.

Remnants of Marley's life are everywhere -- from portraits of his mother and brother to Rita and their children to a soccer ball and guitar.

Six feet above the ground, the marble crypt holds two bodies.

Marley lies on top, while younger brother Anthony, who was killed in 1990 at Cutler Ridge Mall in South Miami-Dade, rests below.

''My first and my last,'' said Booker, who had reserved the space for herself when she brought her first-born son's body back to Jamaica to a hero's welcome.

Booker, or Mother Booker as she is called, chose to memorialize her son by building the mausoleum next door to the two-room house where she lived with Marley before he moved to Kingston.

''It's a very spiritual place because people from all walks of life come there,'' said Booker, who still lives on the estate when she visits.

''Here is where we were living,'' she said of the Pinecrest house she shared with her son, ``but Nine Mile is home.''


Ras John's RadioREGGAE.com Marley Story Part One  Ras John's RadioREGGAE.com Marley Story Part Two   Ras John's RadioREGGAE.com Bob Marley Feature - R&R Hall of Fame   Ras John's RadioREGGAE.com Marley Feature Part Four (Roger Steffens Chronology)  Ras John's RadioREGGAE.com Perry Henzel's Interview with Bob  Ras John's RadioREGGAE.com   Bob Marley - LEGEND LIVE  Ras John's RadioREGGAE.com Reggae Road Bob Marley Main Page Ras John's RadioREGGAE.com 

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