Tour guides are essential part of Bob Marley's Museum visit
May 27, 2019
The Bob Marley Museum is high on the list of tourist attractions for visitors to Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.
Boasting 19th century architecture, the house was the legendary artist’s residence until his death 38 years ago.
Equipped with an 80-seat air-conditioned theatre, the building also contains a three-dimensional hologram from the 1978 ‘One Love Peace’ concert, his 2001 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, gold and platinum records, some of his favourite clothing and a gift shop.
The nearly 75-minute tour is conducted by affable, knowledgeable and articulate guides who keep their guests very engaged and interested.
Third-year University of the West Indies (UWI) student Christain Williams learnt about the tour guide program during a Careers Day event at the university’s Mona Campus.
“They were looking for guides who speak a language other than English,” she said. “I speak French, so I thought I would give it a shot. Even though you get a script to go over, I did a lot of research on my own before I was hired in April 2018.”
Preparation and knowledge, said Williams, are key to the effective instruction and interaction with visitors from around the world.
“Many persons who come here have first-hand accounts of their interactions with Bob,” she said. “I would ask and they would share. Just a couple of weeks ago, a tourist came on the tour on his birthday. He was at Bob’s last concert in Pittsburgh in September 1980 and recalled the singer getting a bit weak and having to sit on a chair that was brought on stage while he was singing Redemption Song. He said Bob played that song like he never did before and he would never forget the wild crowd reaction.”
Marley died eight months later at age 36.
Williams’ favourite part of the tour is inside Marley’s studio.
“I could just see Bob’s image in there doing what he loved the most,” she noted. “When I am in that room, I try to encourage visitors to find what they love. It is so special to be in that space that Bob occupied, creating all of those majestic songs.”
Along the tour, Williams would belt out a Marley song and encourage visitors to sing with her.
“You have to make the tour fun and keep people engaged,” she said.
The Convent of Mercy Academy graduate, who spent a year at St. George’s College before going to university, grew up in a household that didn’t play Marley’s music.
“I sought out his music and other art forms on my own,” she pointed out. “As a child, I was very curious about what’s happening in the world. I also keep company with people older than me so I could gain knowledge from them. In the beginning, all I knew was that Marley was a Rasta who sang reggae music. It was only until a few years later that I really began to grasp the magnitude of the man and the effect he had on people around the world. The more I listen to his songs, the more I crave for his music.”
‘Babylon System’ from the 1979 Survival album is a song she enjoys listening to.
“That song really allowed me to realize how much power there is in education and what that has on the psyche of a people,” she said. “In training to be a guide, I took it upon myself to listen to all of his albums that were released on the Island Records label. That Survival album, for me, is the most militant in that it speaks about social justice, African consciousness and the struggles of the oppressed.”
Introvert and very shy before becoming a tour guide, Williams enjoys her part-time gig.
“This is one of the best jobs in the world and I enjoy coming here,” she said. “I get to meet people from different countries and cultures and show off my French when necessary.”
Majoring in French with a minor in International Relations, she plans to become either a language lecturer or diplomat.
Visitors can tour the museum, located at 56 Hope Rd., from Monday to Saturday, every half hour from 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost for children between the ages of four and 12 is US$12. For tourists 13 years and over, the price of admission is US$25.