Today I put the finishing touches to a documentary on Bob Marley called One Love. It’ll be broadcast on BBC world service radio on May 13th the day before his birthday. The producer, Dilly Barlow, said “I have something for you Lemn” and gave me a photograph of Bob that I’ve never seen. On the back is a message to me from Bob’s long time girlfriend Esther Anderson.
Robert Nesta Marley died the year I discovered him. He was buried on my birthday – May 21st 1981. I was fourteen. I was introduced to him by the hippies on a housing estate that surrounded my children’s home on hag fold estate in a Lilliputian village called Atherton in Lancashire. I didn’t even know a black person until then.
By sixteen I was twisting my hair and growing dreadlocks. First they looked like Marley’s Natty Dread album cover and eventually they dropped into strands. After sixteen years in the “care system” the government decided I needed assessing and locked me away for a year in Wood End Assessment Centre – a lock up with a padded cell. (cont in next blog…)