By Terri Schlichenmeyer
From the minute that child came into the house, you knew you were in trouble. You never asked for a brother or sister, but there you were. And from then on, you had to share toys, Mom, everything.
But it wasn’t all bad. With a sibling in the house, there was always somebody to play with. It pretty much doubled your toys. And best of all, you knew, down-deep, that somebody would always have your back.
But what if you were kept from your siblings and denied your birthright? Who would have your back then? Ky-Mani Marley says he loves his family, and he wishes for the closeness they should have had. In the new book “Dear Dad” he explains.
Born in Falmouth, Jamaica — the place most of us think as paradise — Ky-Mani Marley says that his family was dirt-poor. Nine people lived in a two-room shack and the building had no kitchen or bathroom. Still, he had an idyllic childhood and he remembers being happy and completely cherished.
Ky-Mani always knew that he had “royal lineage.” His mother, Anita, was a championship table-tennis player and, during a tournament, she met a fan named Bob Marley. Ky-Mani says that Anita pretended indifference to Marley’s attention, but the connection was there and it endured. After Ky-Mani was born, the King of Reggae spent lots of time in Falmouth, and was said to have been looking for a house for his family when he died of cancer in 1981.
A year after Bob Marley’s death, Ky-Mani’s grandmother decided to move the family to America, the land where everybody got a “pot of gold.” But as far as Ky-Mani could see, poverty was worse and drug-dealing was the only thing profitable. At 10 years old, he was selling weed as easily as some kids sell lemonade.
By the time he was an adult, Ky-Mani had seized control of his legacy and started making music and writing songs. So that his life would always “mean something,” he started his own nonprofit foundation (www.LoveOverAll.org).
And about the family he loves? He has some painful things to say …
While I was dismayed to see the “controversy” explained so late in this book — nearly a quarter into the story-and though he tends to belabor several points often for many, many pages and though he tends. To. Write in. Slang and. Annoyingly. Short. Sentences, Ky-Mani has a voice that lifts his readers straight onto the sands of Jamaica.
He describes incredible poverty amid sand, sun and love. He personifies “it takes a village to raise a child,” saying it perfectly in this book. His stories are funny, much like those that you’d hear at the table of an old friend. This abundance of good canceled out what annoyed me, and I ended up liking this book quite a bit.
If you’re a fan of either Marley musician and you’re in the mood for a quick read, grab a copy of “Dear Dad.” For you, this is a book to bring into the house.
Terri Schlichenmeyer collects books, tigers, trivia and book bags. She has also been accused of collecting dust now and then.