The Sunday Gleaner: WESTERN BUREAU, By Adrian Frater – Former national table tennis star Anita Belnavis, the mother of Bob Marley’s son Ky-Mani, has given the thumbs up to the recently released biopic ‘Bob Marley: One Love’.

The film, which had its global theatrical release last Wednesday, depicts aspects of the life of the iconic reggae superstar who died in 1981.

Belnavis, who resides in the United States but retains close ties with her hometown of Falmouth, Trelawny, where Ky-Mani was born in 1976, said she watched the movie in the US.

In an interview posted to social media, she gave the movie high marks.

Unlike persons who have been criticising the film, claiming that it bypassed many important aspects of the reggae king’s life, especially his expansive ‘love life’, the soft-spoken Belnavis, who has largely been out of the limelight since the end of her reign as the queen of table tennis in the Caribbean in the 1970s, was impressed.

“The film was nice. I enjoyed it. It captured a lot of Bob Marley’s life as it was,” said Belnavis. “I thought it would have been a lot of fantasy like what some people were saying, but actually it was not … . It was pretty accurate.”


This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Kingsley Ben-Adir in ‘Bob Marley: One Love’.

This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Kingsley Ben-Adir in ‘Bob Marley: One Love’.

The Reinaldo Marcus Green-directed biopic grossed US$4.9 million across 10 markets on its opening day on February 14, several of them giving it No. 1 status and the biggest or second-biggest launch day ever for a music biopic. In Jamaica, it reportedly claimed the honour of being the biggest opening day of all time.

Some people have expressed concerns that Bob’s high-profile relationship that produced his superstar son, Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, was conspicuously absent; that his Wailing Wailers connection did not get the prominence it deserved; and that the use of Britain-based actor Kingsley Ben-Adir in the role of Bob Marley robbed the film of a true Jamaican flavour.

Ben-Adir – who previously portrayed roles as Barack Obama and Malcolm X, and was one of the Kens in the Barbie movie released last year – said the Marley role was his hardest yet.

Belnavis said he gave a creditable performance in Bob Marley: One Love.

“The guy (Ben-Adir) did a very good job. I mean, some of it was off, but for the most part, he got the accent perfectly right,” noted Belnavis.

Quizzed as to whether she could relate to any aspect of the movie, Belnavis initially said “No,” but quickly noted, “I remember when he got shot. I was in my hometown at the time.”

Ky-Mani, who retains very strong ties with Falmouth as the owner of Jamaica Football Federation Tier II outfit Falmouth United, is an established reggae star, releasing his debut album Like Father Like Son in 1996. He received a Grammy nomination for his 2001 album Many More Roads.

Ky-Mani has also broadened his range in the entertainment industry, starring in several movies and television productions. His two most popular movies, Shottas and One Love, both portray aspects of Jamaica’s rich culture.

Ky-Mani Marley

Prior to Ky-Mani’s birth, Bob Marley was a frequent visitor to Falmouth. It was not unusual to see him playing football with the youngsters from the seaside town on any given afternoon.