Published: 25th March, 2011
by PETER GRUNER
BACK in 1978 reggae star Bob Marley met a young Naomi Campbell at a black arts centre in Islington.
A birthday party had been created for the shooting of a video of Marley’s song Is This Love at the Keskidee community centre in Gifford Street. Campbell, who was seven, was one of the children in the background.
It was one of many noteworthy events in the history of the centre, which is to be honoured with an Islington Council green plaque in recognition of its cultural contribution.
The supermodel said years later: “I remember being really nervous, being brought to this room to meet Bob Marley and I was like ‘I don’t want to meet him, he’s got worms in his hair’. He was so handsome, he had this presence very much like a lion.”
Marley is said to have chosen the centre for the video. He spent a day playing party games, singing and dancing with children from stage schools across London. Campbell was picked after attending the Barbara Speake Stage School in East Acton. Ms Speake said: “Naomi was here from aged three until 14 and she was a very quiet, obedient young girl. She never put a foot wrong.”
Sandra Boyce, a Stoke Newington-based theatrical agent, was chaperone for the children. She said: “Bob had a huge entourage but was so humble and was really into working with the children. It’s very important that a green plaque has been given to the site of the Keskidee because history was made there.”
The centre, which takes its name from a singing Caribbean bird, was founded by Guyanese-born Oscar Abrams in 1971. It gave a generation of black teenagers their own space. Linton Kwesi Johnson, an educational officer at the centre, created dub poetry there. The green plaque will be unveiled at the building, now a church, by Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy on April 7.