BUNNY Wailer, the surviving member of trailblazing reggae group The Wailers, is unhappy with certain aspects of the just-released documentary, Marley.
For Wailer, who was one of the main voices in the Kevin MacDonald-directed film, Rastafari — a central theme in the life and 'livity' of Bob Marley — was not given its rightful and respectful place in the production.
He told the Sunday Observer via telephone that he agreed to be part of the production based on the fact that Bob Marley's eldest son, Ziggy, was executive producer. Therefore, it was felt that this would allow for a true picture of the reggae icon.
However, Wailer's hopes were dashed when he attended a pre-release screening and saw the final cut.
In the hour-and-a-half-long documentary, Wailer offered viewers personal insights and anecdotes into the life of Bob Marley. In his signature style, Wailer is articulate and witty as he paints a picture of the man who rose to superstardom in the late 1970s and died of cancer in 1981 at age 36.
Inspired by the 1966 visit to Jamaica by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, Marley would spread the word of Rastafari through his music and this, Wailer believes, should
have been given more focus in the documentary.
"Rastafari was what Robert Marley sang about all his life. Rasta music is the legacy he has left us. When I looked, I did not see an emphasis on Rasta — our faith, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie and the influence these had on the man Robert Marley," said an incensed Wailer.
"I was not pleased with that," he added.
Although disgruntled, Bunny Wailer still decided
to give Marley's local
premiere on April 19
inside Emancipation Park,
St Andrew, his full support.
But all that would change just hours before the start of the event.
He said just before leaving
for the event, he was informed of the use of the Ethiopian
tri-colour — red, green and gold — as a carpet. This is a symbol revered within Rastafari.
"As a Rasta, I felt disrespected."
His voice raised a few notches, highlighting his anger.
"I was not comfortable with the fact that they had Rasta colours on the ground... it turned me off and I decided not to attend the event," Wailer said.
This latest development only served to compound his previous concerns that Rastafari was being downplayed in the celebration of the life of Bob Marley.
"It is all very troublesome and upsetting that all of this took place. How are they going to fix this?" he questioned.
He lays the blame for this flag faux pas squarely at the feet of Bob Marley's widow Rita, his daughter Cedella and Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records which distributed several of Marley's albums.
"This was a total disgrace and I am happy I was not there to witness what Rita, Cedella and Chris Blackwell did to the memory of my brother. It was filthy and dirty and I could never be involved in anything like this. How are we going to heal? I don't understand Rita," an angry Bunny Wailer stated.
Marley's music career as a member of The Wailers began in 1964 when he joined forces with friend Neville 'Bunny Wailer' Livingston and Winston 'Peter Tosh' McIntosh.
They recorded several ska and hardcore reggae songs before Tosh and Wailer left for solo careers in 1973.
Tosh was gunned down at his St Andrew home in September of 1987.