“Shalom Tel Aviv. Rastafari. OK let’s do this.”
This was Ziggy Marley’s welcome to a packed crowd at the Barby Club in Israel’s party city in August 2018. It was the fourth appearance in the Holy Land of the son of reggae icon Bob Marley, and in October he received an artist’s award from LA’s ‘Creative Communit’ for Peace’ for his efforts and for refusing to culturally boycott the Jewish state.
Passing up the opportunity to perform in the country Ziggy describes as “a storybook place for us” would be an affront to his father’s memory, for it was Bob who made all his children feel connected to Israel.
As the second eldest of Bob Marley’s children, Cedella, 52, feels the same way.
“When we first travelled to Israel, it was amazing, emotional and everything in between. We just could not believe we were on those grounds as we do hold them sacred.”
Cedella talks about “touching Jerusalem’s wall” with the same veneration. “Our heritage is our heritage and we fully embrace and protect it.”
For Cedella, like her siblings, heritage is a grab bag of faith and family with a Jewish thread. Her father’s Rastafarianism claims forefathers from the Old Testament, relates to Zion and has the Star of David as its symbol. Meanwhile Norval, the grandfather they never knew, was the son of Ellen Broomfield,
a (white) Jewish Syrian Jamaican.
“We have quite a history, and I am learning more day by day,” says Cedella, who
has her grandmother’s name. “I always thought my grandpa’s side looked a lot like Abraham Lincoln and would joke about it from time to time.”
So there is an actual bloodline to Judaism, and growing up with songs about wandering Jews (Exodus) the promised land (Iron Lion Zion) and Joseph being sold into slavery (Redemption Song) would turn anyone’s head towards Israel.
As it is, Cedella lives between Miami and Jamaica, and her working life is divided between fashion designing (https://tuffgong.com) writing childrens’ books – “My third children’s bookGet Up Stand Up is all about our children standing up to bullies.This epidemic has to stop!” – and keeping her father’s legacy alive through The Bob Marley Foundation. “My dad has inspired me to inspire others,” says
Cedella, who is married with three children. “I am honoured to further his message, which has blessed so many people around the world.”
Jamaica remains an obvious focus. She was born in Kingston and it was there she and her siblings became Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers under dad’s leadership. “ It was fun because I was with my family, but it was also hard work as my father was a great producer and made sure we performed well. If one note from any of us was wrong, we all had to start from the beginning.”
The family travelled the world together and recorded seven albums, but music took Cedella into other creative arenas.
Back in Jamaica in 2014, Cedella’s father was the inspiration for the launch of Marley Natural – part hemp seed apothecary, part cannabis shop. She was ahead of the game.
“Attitudes and laws towards cannabis are changing,” she says. “My father would be so happy to see people understanding the unique properties of the herb. As he said: ‘Make way for the positive day.’ I think we’re seeing that positive day.”
One such positive day occurred when Cedella’s youngest son brought home a flyer about the Reggae Girlz from his football coach. Prior to that she knew nothing of Jamaica’s female national football team, but research showed her the “awful disparity in support for women’s soccer compared to the Reggae Boyz (national team).”
Of course she got involved and, as the team’s ambassador, now helps to
raise awareness, encourages development and provides financially. The result? Jamaica qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time this year.
“We should all have the right to use our talents and gifts to uplift ourselves and our culture, and nobody should be blocked from that based on gender, economic status or anything else,”says Cedell,a who was happy to send two Reggae Girlz to Israel – Nicole McClure for FC Ramat HaSharon and Sashana Campbell who is still a midfielder for Maccabi Kishronot Hadera FC. Later, Cedella sends an email about a big celebration planned for 2020. “My dad is turning 75 next year,” she writes. Touchingly, her sign off is, “One Love.”