Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer
IT WAS appropriate that the children from Kingsgate Prep played a central role in the launch of The Boy From Nine Miles: The Early Life of Bob Marley on Monday afternoon.
Written by Cedella Marley and Gerald Hausman, with illustrations by Mariah Fox, the book covers Bob Marley's life from birth to six and was written, as Cedella Marley said, at 56 Hope Road, St. Andrew, so that her children "would not learn about their grandfather by watching a music video or documentary."
It has 58 pages, complete with colour, child-friendly illustrations, and includes important dates in Marley's life and the names of some of his albums.
The school's band, complete with drum, recorder, steelpan and various percussion instruments and accompanied by their teacher Mr. Williams on guitar, played Marley's Jammin, while six-year-old Avonae Gentles was a one-girl poetic, dramatic dynamo who delivered a poem against violence to the rhythm of the drum.
There was applause as she moved back and forth before her appreciative audience, dipping to earth and rising again, to end with a demanding "when?" about the cessation of violence.
The launch got off to an appropriate start, as children and adults gathered in the cinema at the museum for a rated G (for 'General' and 'Giggles') |cartoon, put together by Cedella Marley, that set the tone for the launch.
The young Robert was shown on his "really cool transportation", the donkey, Nimble, and working in the field with his grandfather Amariah.
The sometimes sensitive subject of the missing father, Captain Marley, was addressed, as the young Robert enquired after his father and was told he is in the army and walking around in those tall boots of his.
He did not blame his father for not coming around.
The cartoon ended on the strong note of "knowing yourself", a red-lipped smooch from Nimble and the comforting thought and Marley quote that "every little thing will be alright".
Out in the sunlight and under the tent at 56 Hope Road, Professor Carolyn Cooper of the University of the West Indies (UWI) hosted the proceedings, which began with an invocation from representatives of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Guest speaker Donald Rhodd somewhat tediously rehashed Marley's life and career, before reading from review by the core curriculum unit of the Ministry of Education of The Boy From Nine Miles: The Early Life of Bob Marley.
The highly complimentary review tipped the text as good support material for the upper primary and lower secondary school system levels, and noted that it was "an excellent example of descriptive writing."
The use of personification, simile ("poverty stalked the streets of Kingston like a dragon") and metaphor ("a
boiling sea of strange faces") was also noted, as well as the large margins being helpful to the slow reader.
Co-writer Gerald Hausman noted that the idea for the book came in 1986, when he first met Cedella Marley, and said "It is the realisation of the dream that is so wonderful today."
Illustrator Mariah Fox said "Nothing makes me happier than to see the children here reading the book. That made my whole day and my year."
Cedella Marley said that this book was the first in a series of three, the other two to cover her father's life from six to 12 and then 12 to 18. She said she would not go further, because "that story done tell already through other eyes."
"I just want to keep it clean and innocent," she said, laughing.