Bob Marley is an icon in Jamaica, not only for his musical achievements, but also as a symbol of many things Jamaica stands for: relaxed reggae music, smoking dope, having faith, being optimistic, seeking peace, having possibilities to become a major figure even though you are from humble backgrounds. It is very unfortunate that the reggae star passed away so young, but his legacy is still everywhere and that can be considered a major achievement. It is impossible to miss the museum: over the gate, a smiling Bob welcomes you, flanked by the lions of Zion, while the sides of the gate are painted red-yellow-green. As the cab pulls up the entrance to his former home and the gate opens, you leave Kingston behind and enter a haven of peace.
After paying the pretty hefty entrance fee, I am told that the next tour of the museum starts in twenty minutes. This gives me some time to walk around the garden, where it is allowed to take pictures - the interior of the museum is strictly camera-free and copyrighted. I see the medicinal herb garden Bob Marley used, the Legend Café, a life-size statue of the reggae star, the Landrover he used, the outside of his house, but most importantly, the frescoes on the walls depicting his life, his ideas, African landscapes, some of his achievements (like being voted the second sexiest black man of all times), and his sons. Then, it is time to leave my camera, join a small group, and enter the museum proper.
Soon, the joyful guide starts singing some of the best known songs of the legendary Jamaican reggae singer, which makes the tour unlike any other I did. Meanwhile, we learn about the humble background of Bob Marley, how he used to live here, how he used to be in his hammock thinking up new tunes, where he would give interviews, how he got influenced by Ethiopia and most notably Haile Selassie. We see his bedroom, kitchen, living rooms, studio. Some of the walls of the rooms are covered by newspaper clippings from around the world, praising the king of reggae and reporting on his concerts. Everywhere you go, you can safely assume Bob was smoking one of his many joints of ganja. The back of the house still carries the bullet holes as testimonies to the murder attempt in 1976, after he got involved in Jamaican politics, trying to find peace in an otherwise violent society. He survived, delivered a free concert just two days later, but went into exile. Five years later, he passed away because of various forms of cancer. The Tuff Gong studio is now turned into a cinema where, at the end of the tour, you can see a video depicting some aspects of the life of this Jamaican hero. A memorable visit to the museum of a memorable person. My head was full of reggae when I exited through the gate. When I looked back, Bob was smiling at me from various pictures on the outside wall of his house.
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