A trip here is essential, if only to appreciate the humble rural setting from which the singer has become a global superstar. Less than a year before his death, he was performing in front of a crowd of 110,000 fans at the San Siro stadium in Milan, but it all started in the dilapidated villages of the parish of St. Anne which are still accessible on winding lane roads. unique full of potholes. . Places such as Stepney, where he attended school, and Alderton, where he lived with his aunt Amy. Here goats roam, farmers tend small farms planted with yams, callaloo and bananas, and it’s easy to imagine the slow days when there was enough time to make a rudimentary guitar from boxes of bamboo, skins and sardines.
“Nine Mile is both the birthplace and resting place of Bob Marley,” says Captain Crazy, a genius barefoot Rastafarian guide who leads me through a walled complex that rises up the hillside. We first visit the home of the musician’s mother, Cedella Booker, with her handmade dolls and sewing machines. I learn how he was born here in 1945 when she was 19, her father being Captain Norval Marley, 60, an English supervisor who died when her son was 10.
We discuss Bob’s offspring – officially 11 children from seven different relationships – several of whom, like Ziggy, Damian, and Ky-Mani, are now full music stars. Higher up is Mount Zion, home to a small Ethiopian Orthodox church, the simple two-room house where Marley was raised, and a pair of mausoleums – one for his mother and one he shares with his half-brother, Anthony, who was shot dead by police in Miami in 1990 at the age of 19.