Waiting In Vain?

Today marks 38 years since the death of Bob Marley who passed away in Miami from cancer at age 36. But while his lyrics continue to inspire people across the world, does he hold significance in his hometown of Trench Town?

Bunny Goodison, a former board chairman at Trench Town High, said Marley holds no prominence over that school.

“Everybody knows of Trench Town through his lyrics and all that, so he gave the community a positive light but he has not been very important to the school, other than face,” Goodison told the Jamaica Observer. “During my time as chairman, I didn’t witness or enjoy any benefits from the Bob Marley Foundation. Truth is, I’ve always wondered how it is we never got something.”

Trench Town High and Charlie Smith High schools merged in 2015 to form Trench Town Polytechnic College with an aim to provide students with highly employable technical vocational and entrepreneurial skills.

Goodison — a disc jockey and musicologist — served as chairman of the school from 1983 to 2006.

Trench Town is usually cited as the birthplace of reggae and rocksteady. It was home to many of Jamaica’s great singers, including Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, Leroy Sibbles, Joe Higgs, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

Tosh, Wailer and Marley are founding members of The Wailers which formed in Trench Town during the early 1960s. Tosh was murdered at his St Andrew home in September 1987 at age 42.

The community is the site of Trench Town Culture Yard, a former tenement where Marley once lived. It inspired No Woman, No Cry and Concrete Jungle, two of his greatest songs.

Dosseth Edwards -Watson, principal at Trench Town Polytechnic College, said many students and members of the community are in the dark about Marley’s impact.

“I don’t even think the people of Trench Town understand how huge he is outside of here,” she explained. “I don’t think they understand the value of Bob worldwide. I travel and the minute you say ‘I’m from Jamaica’, somebody says: ‘Oh Bob Marley’, and when I tell them I’m from Trench Town, their eyes sparkle. I don’t think locally, he’s appreciated as he ought to be appreciated.”

The school, located in the heart of the community, is a skills training institution.

Watson said given the nature of the facility, it is difficult to have Marley in its curriculum.

“We have a rich cultural arts programme so through that we try to incorporate Bob Marley and his teachings and so on. The band now, Trench Town Rockers, has a repertoire of songs of Bob Marley that we do and we try to quote him as often as we can and we try to pull on these messages and so on. Most of the programmes now are tailored to respond to industry. I don’t know that there will be that course so to speak given that we are a workforce college,” she explained.

As Trench Town benefits from tourists interested in the legacy of Marley, Watson sees an opportunity for the school to integrate and benefit.

“What we want to do outside of the academics and, so on, we want to be big on cultural arts. So we want to be able to capitalise on that cultural economy that’s opening up,” she said. “We want to set up like a likkle party area in the square. Many tourists are in here, and they come ’cause a Bob Marley. I don’t think there are any tourists in any other community like how they are in Trench Town, so we want to be able to build a tour of the college as part of that cultural exchange,” she said.

“We want to make it that when people come on tour of the Culture Yard, this will be a second stop for them. We want to interface the culture in terms of food because we have the culinary arts programme,” Watson added. “We want to build a court where the tourists can come and learn how to cook their jerk chicken, and the band and theatre-arts students can teach them how to do the reggae movements.”

Source: Waiting in vain?

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