After a Business Observer story reporting that Marley Coffee was worth US$235 million, prompted a co-host of a popular morning radio programme to ask what does coffee have to do with Rasta. Rohan Marley, one of the lead investors in the project, was quick to respond.
“That’s because of a lack of knowledge. My father’s first song was One Cup of Coffee,” said the 40-year-old son of Bob Marley. He did not make mention of it, but in the same vein there is another song widely acclaimed as one of his father’s first two recordings that could also provide an answer. That song is called Judge Not.
Historians say that the Ethiopian ancestors of today’s Oromo people were the first to discover and recognise the energising effect of the coffee bean plant. Coffee beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees in over 70 countries, cultivated primarily in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
It is from that African-centred perspective that the fourth oldest offspring of the late reggae king remains steadfast to his Rastafari roots, arguing there is no conflict with his faith and his business venture.
“I don’t limit myself to anything,” said Marley. “Ask dem if dem know where coffee come from. You identify Rasta with Ethiopia, right. So nuh Ethiopia coffee come from.”
Marley said he got into coffee farming after his brethren Iqulah introduced him to his (Iqulah’s) property. “When we decided to buy the land we realised that the land had coffee. So I got into coffee,” he said of his foray into and his love affair with the product which led to the establishment of his international coffee brand, Jammin Java.
Rohan Marley was born May 19, 1972 to Janet Hunt and Bob Marley. He is perhaps the only son of the late reggae icon with the least interest in music, even though, he admitted, he flirts with the drum and guitar.
The 1991 graduate of Miami Palmetto Senior High School played American football for the University of Miami. He also played pro football in Canada for the now defunct Ottawa Rough Riders.
Now the co-founder of the privately owned coffee company, Marley is a passionate entrepreneur and visionary, combining his creativity and business acumen to create a self-sustainable and certified organic coffee farm which aims to help preserve Earth’s natural balance.
“My thing is more the coffee thing. But I do play instruments, a little bit. I can play the drum a little, and I can play couple songs on the guitar,” he told the Observer in an interview at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston on Wednesday, May 11, the 30th anniversary of his father’s passing.
Typical of his father, he was in the yard playing football when he was interrupted by this reporter to share some of his reflections on his dad’s passing.
“The only thought I have today is only just a slight remembrance of where I was on this date 30 years ago. That’s the only thought I have today,” he said. “It was same place where I am today, which is 56 Hope Road. Yes, I was right here in the yard doing the same thing that I’m doing now, which is kicking the ball. I was about to be nine years old.
“May 19 is my ‘Earthstrong’ (birthday), and I was just playing ball and when I got the news I kinda just smiled first like they were joking,” he said. “Then of course, it finally hit home. Then later I saw Steve (Stephen Marley) and Steve said Daddy said don’t cry. Steve was in Miami and I was here. He was there with Daddy, so when he came he brought the message — from a father to a son.”