About a month ago, Ky-Mani Marley was at a local Barnes and Noble signing his new book, Dear Dad. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the signing, but Deanna, one of my customer's (Marc) wife, who works at said bookstore, got me a signed copy.
Yes, Ky-Mani Marley is one of Bob Marley's sons and yes, Dear Dad, is partially about Bob Marley. Because Ky-Mani had a different mother than most of Bob Marley's children, and sadly because there was a lot of drama because of that fact, Ky-Mani didn't grow up with the benefits that one would think being a son of Bob Marley would entail. Thus, Dear Dad is mostly about how Ky-Mani grew up like a lot of kids who grew up in Jamaica did, which was being very poor (in the financial sense as Ky-Mani emphasizes).
Ky-Mani and his mother, when he was about eight years old, moved to Miami, to be with other family members who lived there. As Ky-Mani recounts in Dear Dad, when he was a kid living in Falmouth, Jamaica, there was nine people living in a two room shack-house with the kitchen and bathroom (which had no plumbing) being outdoors, but when they moved to Miami, they lived in the ghetto (Liberty City), in an even smaller "house" with seven other people. So the American Dream couldn't have been farther away for Ky-Mani. Ky-Mani never felt family poor when he was in Jamaica as a little kid, as there was a lot of love all over his neighborhood community and as poor as they were, they never went hungry. Moving to a ghetto in Miami though, resulted in Ky-Mani dealing weed and other drugs even before he was a teenager as he was thrust into a violent, volatile world that most of us can't come close to imagining.
Dear Dad isn't the big sob story that one would imagine growing up in such conditions would result in, but rather a book that Ky-Mani Marley wrote, not to dwell on the inequities that he had to live with that Bob Marley's other children didn't, instead he wrote Dear Dad to try to unify the Marley family under Bob Marley's One Love credo (basically Ky-Mani is saying people need to leave silly drama out of their lives). The other big thing that comes through in Dear Dad is Ky-Mani's utmost respect and love for his mother and all she did to make himself the person he is today. Ky-Mani today is a musician, a path he didn't see happening early on in his life and he's started a foundation called Love Over All Foundation (www.loveoverall.org) to help children who come from impoverished environments to have opportunities that others have.
I'd highly recommend Dear Dad for Ky-Mani Marley's naturalistic conversational writing style, as a window into growing up in an environment that is so alien to most of us, and as the great love Ky-Mani has for his family and the father he barely knew. Next time Ky-Mani comes to Las Vegas, I'll be sure to be in his audience and hope that he continues to write books as well as music.
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