A report from the Caribbean National Weekly.
Growing up in the Rastafarian commune of August Town, Jamaica during the 1970s, Robert Chin savored the natural dishes his mother prepared for family and high-profile clients like Bob Marley, Dennis Brown and Judy Mowatt. One year after his mother’s death, he and his siblings are looking to release her first cookbook.
Known as Stanpipe, Robert is the eldest child for Minion Phillips, popularly known as Sister Minnie. She was a pioneer of vegetarian food, what Rastafarians popularly call Ital, in Jamaica. For years, she ran successful restaurants in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, and Accra, Ghana where she lived for eight years.
Stanpipe, a singjay, lives in Miramar. He communicates regularly with his brothers and sisters in Jamaica on a project that was dear to their mother. “Everything was done, she completed it an’ the Marley dem give her the rights before shi pass for the book to release,” he said.
The Marley family gave the green light for the yet-titled book as some of its recipes, like One Drop and Stir it Up, are named for songs Bob Marley wrote. They include Ital and Red Peas stews which were among the dishes Sister Minnie prepared for the late reggae icon.
According to Stanpipe, his brother Mikhail Phillips is currently shopping the manuscript to a publisher. Once a deal is sealed, they plan to release the book in September 2020 on the second anniversary of Sister Minnie’s death.
The launch is scheduled for Hope Gardens, a botanical location in Kingston where she operated a popular restaurant for several years.
From a middle-class family, Sister Minnie accepted the Rastafarian faith in the late 1960s while she was a student at the University of the West Indies in Kingston. There, she met and later married Peter Phillips, (currently leader of Jamaica’s opposition People’s National Party) who came from a similar background. They joined the Twelve Tribes of Israel and lived in August Town near to the UWI campus. Stanpipe was Sister Minnie’s child from a previous relationship, while she had four children for Peter Phillips.
Sister Minnie was a confidant of Rita Marley, Bob Marley’s widow. They both lived in Accra for many years, with Minnie being appointed a Queen Mother in Asamankese, a city in south Ghana. Sister Minnie returned to Jamaica in 2014, and died last year from compilations of cardiac arrest.
Stanpipe, whose EP Life Journey was released in September, hopes to visit Ghana soon to fulfill another of his mother’s goals.
“We plan to appoint somebody to sit on her Stool ‘cause she’s a Queen Mother. We want to set up some farming so that the youths in the village can earn money to take care of themselves,” he said.