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I felt like it was a dream - Bob Marley Museum tour guide recounts time spent with Obama

Published:Thursday | April 9, 2015 | 12:00 AMRobert Lalah
United States President Barack Obama walks outside with tour guide Natasha Clark, during his unannounced visit to the Bob Marley Museum in St Andrew on Wednesday night.
US President Barack Obama visits the Bob Marley Museum with tour guide Natasha Clark.

Just over an hour after Barack Obama arrived in Jamaica Wednesday night, Natasha Clark, a mother of two from Stadium Gardens in Kingston, was by his side. Clark, a tour guide at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road in St Andrew, was chosen to take the United States president on a private tour of the facility when he made an unannounced visit there around 9 p.m. It's an experience Clark said she'll never forget.

"I've been married for 13 years and I have two children, but this ranks right up there as one of the greatest experiences of

my life!" she said yesterday, hours after meeting Obama.

Clark said that about 4 p.m. on Wednesday, her boss told her and the other tour guides to be prepared for a possible visit by a VIP on Thursday.

"Of course, Obama came to my mind, but I wasn't sure. Then my boss asked me if I'd be willing to come back to the museum in the evening on Wednes-day, and I started thinking more and more that it might be Obama visiting. But I tried not to think too much about it," said Clark.

She went home, where her 15-year-old daughter was a little less circumspect.

"Mummy, he's coming to visit the museum," she said.

Clark got ready and returned to work around 7:30 p.m., where she was greeted by Obama's head of security. It was then that it hit home to her what was about to happen.

"I've really liked Obama for a long time, so I was excited."

She said when the president's car pulled up and he stepped out, his first words to her were "Hi, Natasha!"

"His personality, his demeanour is just like what you see in the media. He's very pleasant and very warm. When he speaks to you, he looks right at you and you can tell he is really listening," said Clark.

She said as she was taking Obama around the museum, his attention was captured by a photo of Bob Marley in performance.

"I started telling him about it and the concert it was taken from. He interjected by saying, 'and there's Haile Selassie's portrait as well'."

Clark said Selassie's image is behind Marley in the photo.




Part of the tour involves watching a two-minute video. In the clip, Marley is heard saying the words: "There is a voice in all of us telling us what is right from what is wrong."

Clark said Obama closed his eyes and nodded as Marley spoke.

Later, as the song Exodus started playing, Obama started to dance and sing along. Clark said he turned to one of his Secret Service bodyguards and said, "Hey, that's the album we were listening to on Air Force One on our way here."

He told Clark that Exodus is his favourite Marley album. He also sang along, word for word, to Marley's Ambush in the Night.

In all, the tour lasted about 30 minutes but that half hour will remain with Clark for the rest of her life. Her husband, who plays drums in the famed reggae band Steel Pulse, is off the island, but called her full of excitement to tell her he saw her on the front page of the newspapers.

"I didn't sleep last night. I was too excited and was getting calls and texts from so many people. One time I woke up and I was wondering if it was all a dream. I'm honoured to have got this opportunity. I'll never forget it," she said.