Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 17th 2014 Contents | PROFILES |
I feel many ways about the
legacy, and I feel many ways
about him. He is real to me, not
like a celebrity. I think of his
journey, not just what people
saw, but where he was coming
from and what he did with his
experience. And I think about the
legacy inherited by my family and
how much people misjudge us."
4 | WOW MAGAZINE
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt August 17, 2014
By Onika Nkrumah-Lakhan
IMPATIENTLY, I POP a cookie in my mouth, so distracted
by my thoughts that I almost do not notice that my sub-
ject has arrived. Decked in a beige Ethiopian buna dress
with golden threads and the ubiquitous red, gold and
green --- smooth sapodilla-brown skin and a big, toothy
grin, is Donisha Prendergast. I'm not surprised by her
easygoing and humble vibe; it is what I expect of any
real rastawoman. In town for the screening of her film,
RasTa, she doesn't think it's ok to be fashionably late
and quickly apologises to her audience for the delay
and invites us to hold a 'reasoning'.
Rita Marley's granddaughter, as she sometimes wishes to
be called, no offence to her iconic grandpa; Bob, of course --
is on a personal odyssey to rediscover and demystify Rasta-
fari globally. Her journey began when she decided to 'dread-
locks' a member of the prominent, uptown Prendergast
family on her paternal side; she concludes that although she
grew up as part of the legendary Marleys, she never really
knew Rasta. That came much later, and still continues
today, hence her film 'RasTa' and subsequent travels pro-
moting 'RasTa', both sharing and gaining knowledge. Don-
isha's journey is the modern equivalent of going up into a
remote cave and emerging decades later, gray and wise.
'RasTa' explores the universal phenomenon that is Rasta-
fari, moving beyond the usual stereotypes to a deeper un-
derstanding. The journey takes her to many countries,
including Ethiopia, Israel and South Africa. In India, Donisha
is able to connect linkages between the Saddhus and Rasta-
fari. Clearly, her film is different from others of similar
theme, simply by her involvement as a young rastawoman
and as a Marley, but it also attempts to get to the nitty
gritty of what is Rastafari. Donisha feels that "it's a soul's
journey". Usually insulated from many of the prejudices
that confront the ordinary rasta because of her pedigree
and privileged background, Donisha did once experience
negative backlash about her choice. Donisha naturally iden-
tifies with the struggles of her fellow Rastafari for social jus-
tice and is the leading face of the Occupy Pinnacle
movement. Pinnacle is a rastafari community, founded by
the late Leonard Howell. The community is resisting eviction
by the Jamaican government and land developers.
Confident and perhaps no stranger to controversy herself,
she makes a bold statement, "I bun reggae", much to the
consternation of some. How could a Marley say to 'burn'
the artform that was internationalized by her late grand-
father! Later, Donisha clarifies herself saying "I burn a pu-
rifying fire on reggae". Apparently, her initial assertion
was made in the heat of disappointment and her issue is
with the negative themes that have become popular and
pervasive within the genre, than with the music itself.
WOW: What has the process of filming RasTa been like?
DP: Well, it is a spiritual and physical experience. From
pre-production of the film, finding sponsors, creating net-
works, booking travel and accommodations, research of
the countries, interviewees to finding locations. Then you
have the story...you write one thing but then life happens.
Editing what to use and having to clench your teeth as
you can't include everything, even though it may all be so
relevant. It's more than a film to me, it's my journey.
WOW: How do you feel knowing that your grandfather has
left such an enduring legacy and has been so inspirational?
DP: I feel many ways about the legacy, and I feel many
ways about him. He is real to me, not like a celebrity. I
think of his journey, not just what people saw, but
where he was coming from and what he did with his ex-
perience. And I think about the legacy inherited by my
family and how much people misjudge us.
WOW: Wherever you go in the world, when you mention
that you are Bob Marley's granddaughter, what sort of
treatment do you get?
DP: Well, naturally people are intrigued by the name Mar-
ley, so most times they come with expectations and sto-
ries of my grandpa. Many times, people don't remember
my name because it is so much easier to just say Bob Mar-
ley's granddaughter. The respect I get is definitely by the
virtue of my grandparents; people come with open hearts.
WOW: Have you ever been anywhere or met anyone
who didn't know who Bob Marley was?
DP: Yes, in the holy city of Varanasi, India. Then, later I
saw a man in a Bob Marley t-shirt. He's everywhere...he
means a lot to many people.
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