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Miles for Marley - Silent Majority founder campaigns for Bob's national hero status

Published:Sunday | February 3, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road. - Ian Allen /Staff Photographer
Derrick Robinson. - Photo by Chad Bryan
Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley

Derrick 'Black X' Robinson has literally walked the walk to back up his talk, putting his feet where his mouth is. After doing warm-up walks of a mere (by his standards) 33 kilometres from Ocho Rios, St Ann, to Port Maria, St Mary, then from Port Maria to Kingston, he started walking for causes.

In the run-up to the 2007 general election, his solo barefooted walk from the clock in Ocho Rios, St Ann, to the Tacky monument in Port Maria was in honour of Marcus Garvey. That same year, he walked from Port Maria to Jamaica House on Hope Road, starting out at 7:30 p.m. and delivering a letter pushing for Tacky to become a national hero.

There was a repeat of that walk for Tacky in 2008, a four-person trek from Oracabessa, St Mary, to Kingston for Marcus Garvey in 2009 and then a relay-style all-island trek in 2010, Robinson the only one to do the entire journey with other persons accompanying him at various points.

Biggest venture ahead

As long as they have taken, each of those walks pales in comparison to what Robinson has planned to push for Bob Marley to be made a national hero.

Starting from the Tacky monument in Port Maria at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, he will walk to the Bob Marley Museum, 56 Hope Road, St Andrew, hoping to arrive at about 11:00 a.m. Wednesday.

"At the museum, I will announce the specific reasons why Bob Marley should be made a national hero," Robinson said.

But that is only a part of the journey. Robinson will leave the museum and walk to Trench Town, Marley's music base. He has not been there before, so Robinson is unable to give an estimate of the arrival time, although he has an idea of what he will do. "It is Bob Marley Day, so I guess for a little while I will be part of the proceedings there," he said.

In Natty Dread, Bob Marley name checks the numerically named streets of Trench Town, starting with First Street. However, Robinson will be trodding much further than Bob did, lyrically or physically, as from Trench Town he walks to Marley's birthplace, Nine Miles, St Ann. It is another place that Robinson has not been to previously.

And still the journey will not be over. From Nine Miles, he goes on to circle the island, hoping to get back to 56 Hope Road by February 22.

While he will rest along the way, the only definite stop he has planned is in Spanish Town, on the way to Nine Miles.

Encouraged by support

While Robinson will be walking alone, he hopes to be buoyed by the support of like minds along the way.

"By the time the story goes out I am banking on the goodness of the Bob Marley fans to really chip in and make the trek around more endurable," he said.

He has not made contact with the Marley family. "People who know I am going to do the walk say they will contact Rita Marley or Junior Gong, but none of that has come through as yet. I would be very receptive to anyone (who gives support) in fact," he said.

To sustain himself, Robinson will be toting a knapsack with light clothing (including a raincoat) and carrying water. "I always say money is lighter to have in the pocket than supplies. Jamaica is commerce driven so there are shops and snack places all around," he said.

Exemplary life

Although he is saving details for the planned February 6 announcement at 56 Hope Road, Robinson gave a broad outline of why he feels Bob Marley should be a national hero.

"His life has been an exemplary one, both locally and internationally. He has shown that what he was about was not just for himself, not just for Africa, but very much for Jamaica. There is a consistency in his work that should be reflected in every sphere of life," Robinson said.

"The hallmark of Bob Marley being a national hero is necessary for future generations."

Robinson connected Marley's work with others of the "lyrical warrior" ilk, saying that Marley being made a national hero would be reflective of "all their efforts".

Similarly, he hopes that a spirit of community will couch his solo effort - even in finding where he needs to go in St Ann.

'Cannot get lost'

"This is Jamaica. We are talking about Bob Marley. I have absolutely no doubt, going to Bob Marley's home in St Ann, I cannot be lost. It can't happen," he said.

He is convinced that the timing is right, as next year marks a century since Marcus Garvey formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association. He hopes for Marley being made a national hero to coincide with the landmark anniversary.

With members of the Tacky Heritage Group in touch by cell phone and at a pace of five kilometres per hour, with nights being most productive, Robinson is confident - and will not be stopped by the blisters which affected him in July last year, when an all-island walk for Tacky to be made a national hero was called off.

"I have comfortable walking shoes," Robinson said, adding that they have been properly broken in.