'Gilly' remembers Marcus
Marcus Garvey

At 12 years old, in November 1964, Gladstone Gilbert was part of the procession for Marcus Garvey's final resting place at National Heroes' Park in Kingston. He was then a student at St Aloysius Primary School and an altar boy at Holy Trinity Cathedral.

He had no grasp of Garvey's impact, but the presence of countless dignitaries made him realise that man in the casket was someone important. Fifty-eight years later, Gilbert is part of an initiative honouring the pan-African legend and Jamaica's first national hero.

'Emancipate yourself from mental slavery', one of Garvey's foremost quotes, will be placed on a tree marker on August 17, his birthday, at the Underline Brickell Backyard Sound Stage Plaza in Miami. The location is part of a linear park below that city's Metrorail, being developed by a group known as Friends of The Underline.

It was Gilbert who suggested to the 23-member organisation that the Garvey quote, immortalised in Bob Marley's Redemption Song, would be appropriate.

"Garvey is an inspiration to I an' I, he was a man into self-preservation. His message was, 'don't depend on people, depend on you," said Gilbert, popularly known as Gilly Ras.

Garvey died in London in 1940 age 53. His body was exhumed and returned to Jamaica in November 1964; five years later, he was named Jamaica's first national hero.

Most archivists agree Garvey uttered 'Emancipate yourself from mental slavery' during a speech at Menelik Hall in Nova Scotia, Canada, in October 1937. It is widely associated with Redemption Song, Marley's acoustic masterpiece from Uprising, his 1980 album.

A member of the dominant Santos football team of the early and mid-1970s, Gilbert was part of the reggae legend's camp when he wrote Redemption Song. He became his official cook in late 1976.

Gilbert first met Marley, a football fanatic, during his time with Santos and the Rastafarian team, House of Dread. He was on Marley's last tour of the United States in 1980, which was cancelled in September that year after doctors diagnosed the latter with terminal cancer.

Marley died in May 1981 at age 36.

Founded in 2014, Friends of The Underline's objective is to develop a 120-acre, 10-mile linear park below the Miami Metrorail. Among other things, it will "connect numerous diverse neighbourhoods, and celebrate diversity, culture and lifelong learning."

Gladstone Gilbert moved to South Florida following Bob Marley and The Wailers' final show at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh. He has produced songs by numerous artistes, and is planning to write a book about his friendship with Marley.

Gladstone "Gilly Ras" Gilbert
Howard Campbell

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