‘No COVID-19 can interrupt the mystical vibration’ - Bongo Herman maintains vigil at Bob Marley Museum to celebrate ‘dear friend’
As the world observed what would have been the 76th birthday anniversary of the great reggae legend, Robert ‘Nesta’ Marley, his home base at 56 Hope Road was devoid of the usual merriment.
A ban on large public gatherings due to the COVID-19 virus meant patrons could not have gathered at the museum as they would have wanted. When The Gleaner team visited the museum, tours were still happening but there was a deafening silence on the grounds as the slew of physical activities that would normally be taking place on February 6, was noticeably absent. But although the customary excitement was missing, the presence of Bongo Herman brought forth a certain surety that albeit virtual, the celebrations were still happening.
Never far away from the home base of the man he described as a “dear friend”, the renowned percussionist told The Gleaner that he has never missed a February 6 celebration at the museum. In fact, Bongo Herman disclosed that on any given day, one would find him on the premises, beating his keteh drum and “holding a positive vibration”, because that is where and how he feels closest to the legend.
“This house that you see here, this is history right here. Sacred grounds. I and Bob were good, good bredren. We sit and reason, we play football, we play music together and I have the photos to show,” he said pulling out laminated photos of him and Marley from his archive. “Bob was a clean yute, ‘vibesy’ and him always a think bout conscious living. We used to go on the steps or we go under that tree right there and reason about life (pointing to a tree close to the back of the premises). That is Bob Marley favourite tree. Those are the reasons why I am always here, especially today. It’s a spiritual vibes, a special connection that I feel here,” he said.
Bongo Herman said he is able to connect with Marley when on the grounds of his former home. “There are certain times, I feel the energy of Bob, right inna di yaad yah. [So] it’s just the flesh a Bob gone innu because the spirit lives on forever and that’s why he was able to touch so many people,” Bongo Herman shared.
For the percussionist, the late Marley was a prophet sent to fulfil a divine purpose before being taken away. Giving his own interpretations of a Bible scripture, Bongo Herman revealed just why though physically absent, Bob Marley’s influence will never die. “It is written in the Bible and this is my interpretation that I the Lord shall take away one of the great ones from among you and I see him, Bob Marley as that great one. Every crevice and corner of this world yuh go, Bob’s presence is there. No other artiste ever do like what he did and is still doing,” he said, highlighting that not only did the icon leave lasting messages of love and unity, but he left a boatload of talent passed down through his bloodline that will continue to sustain said musical legacy for generations to come.
He continued, “Why yuh think Bob Marley say ‘dem ago tired fi see mi face’? He is not here but see the whole a him children dem come and a draw big crowd, a carry on the music and a continue to spread the messages he did. The whole a di Marley family is musically gifted and everybody can see that. Bob was a prophet and everything happening with his bloodline is a plan thing by God himself. A divine thing.”
Expressing gratitude to the Marley family, Bongo Herman said he continues to give thanks for every year he is blessed with to be a part of the legend’s birthday celebrations. He said he was particularly pleased that this year, even as COVID-19 continues its vice-like grip on the entertainment industry, the family found a way to celebrate their patriarch. “A nuff people always wah come here to Jamaica to experience this innu, but for some reason or di other, dem just couldn’t. This year, the world get fi be a part of the celebrations because everything virtual. Mi just glad say everything get fi happen same way. The world is changing and so we affi change wid it because all when we nuh gather together physically, the spiritual connection still up. No COVID-19 [can] interrupt the mystical vibration.”