Cindy on trial - Marley relationship goes public
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Cindy Breakspeare said she knew the King of Reggae, the man who would later become the father of her love child, because they would say hello to each other in passing.
"Yes I knew him, but to be a devotee of the music, part of an elite group of spiritual rebels was one thing. But to be intimate, involved personally with this man, be the woman who would stand by his side and reflect all that he was about was entirely something else."
Breakspeare wasn't a Rastafarian, didn't fit the bill, and wasn't sure she wanted to be one.
"Once again was that word religion, full of rules and regulations -
In her mind, it was uptown meets downtown. "How on earth was that going to work," she questioned.
However, that questioned was answered by the charming Bob Marley, who made her feel special with small gifts like a freshly picked mango and an invitation to walk in the cool night air. This became the norm, she reminisced.
"And I could not deny that we were fiercely attracted to each other. Fascinated and separated simultaneously by our differences, so we began to build a bridge. The same bridge that has brought me here today. Bob was strong, fit and virile. Tough as nails and boyishly charming, all at the same time."
She describes him as a man's man who wore denim and khaki, frequently used chew sticks to clean his teeth and smelled of phetamine soap, superconfident and more driven than any human being she had ever met.
"He was not only attractive, but intimidating for a young girl like me. I knew instinctively if I were to enter into this relationship with him, it would change the trajectory of my life forever."
Cindy and Bob would stroll out to the fence at the front of the yard and stand there talking for hours about life, Rasta, consciousness and whether or not one knew what one's purpose on earth was.
"It was unsettling for sure, the company of this man, who was different from anyone I had been involved with thus far."
She said he was so serious about his own purpose in life that she didn't know "how and where [she] could possibly fit in".
During their tentative dance around each other, Marley went off on tour for 10 to 12 weeks.
Allan 'Skill' Cole and the gang continued to visit her from time to time at the nightclub in Northside Plaza where she worked, to check if she was behaving herself and to bring greetings from her suitor.
"Greetings to let me know that he was always thinking of me while away and would return soon - a return filled with expectation and anticipation. Finally, he was back, I knew the day was imminent. I heard the VW bus come through the gate and I just knew he was in it. His footsteps up the stairs to my front door confirmed this not long after. He was back. The waiting was over. There were no more questions which seemed to matter. It was what it was, and it would become what it would become."
Another piece of the bridge fell into place.
"Naturally, I had continued to pursue my own career goals and that pursuit led me to a job at Spartan Health Club as an instructress in June of 1976. She took to the job like a duck to water. To be totally immersed in physical culture was a wonderful way to spend every day, which fit in perfectly with her now-vegetarian lifestyle, as a result of Marley's influence.
Her involvement at Spartan and the encouragement of Mickie Haughton-James led her to compete in the Miss Jamaica Body Beautiful. The prize for winning that was to compete in the Miss Universe Bikini in London.
"Again, I won, and I remember being in New York with Bob at the Essex House where he often stayed waiting for the call from Jamaica to say whether or not I had been accepted to compete in the Miss World, also held in London."
The phone rang and the answer was yes, she had to compete in the ultimate beauty pageant, Miss World 1976 in London.
"The Miss World competition for me was an opportunity more than anything else. With no family backative and no university education, I made a conscious effort to exploit my God-given talent."
It turned out to be the best job she ever had.
"I told them to work me as hard as possible. I would go anywhere in the world they wanted to have me, and, consequently, had an amazing year getting to know the world as an unofficial ambassador for Jamaica."
Unparalleled & unforgettable
Being Jamaican was the thing she was most proud of when it came to facing the microphones. That exotic blend of cultures, colours and ethnic backgrounds, a melting pot that was truly diverse, was now sprinkled with a heavy dose of Rastafari, she said.
The night she won stands out in my memory as an overwhelming moment, unparalleled and unforgettable.
"Until this day, watching the videos of it, still fills my eyes with tears and floods my heart with emotion."
Wherever she went, Jamaica was the subject and, of course, Marley.
"The tabloids went crazy," she quipped, adding that her chaperone, Nancy Burke, was convinced she would be terminated for the scandalous press her relationship with Marley was receiving.
The age-old adage proved to be true - The only bad publicity is no publicity.
The Jamaican community, including those of the Rastafari faith, she said, supported her wholeheartedly through the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.
A few days after winning, her exploration of London took her down to Porto Bello Road, where in search of a restroom, she made her way into a Jamaican restaurant called Back-a-Yard.
"As I pushed the door dressed in full regalia, having just come from a personal appearance, the two Jamaican women who were tidying the place looked up in total disbelief, elbowing each other. 'See her yah, see her yah,' they whispered loud enough for me to hear. Says me now brightly. 'Wah a gwaan in yah, me ears a ring unno een yah a chat me'. 'Yes,' one of them stated unapologetically, we want to know why when you have so much black girls in Jamaica, Bob would a tek up with you?'."
"Well see it yah now, a say to miself, baptism of fire. I took a deep breath, swallowed my spit and prayed for courage. Within five minutes, I kid you not, every Jamaican in a five-mile radius was in that restaurant to witness the impromptu trial of the newly crowned Miss World."