ACCRA, Ghana, Wednesday July 31, 2013 – Rita Marley, widow of reggae legend Bob Marley, will be made an honorary citizen of Ghana and will also receive a Ghanaian passport from the government on Saturday.
According to a statement from the Marley Foundation, Marley will be honoured on August 3, Ghana’s Independence Day.
Rita Marley has lived in Ghana for many years and is known as Nana Afua Abodea I, within the Aqwapim region of that country.
She has been involved in numerous charity projects there, as well as operating a recording studio and helping to organise the Africa Unite concerts.
Commenting on the forthcoming recognition, His Excellency Dr Erieka Bennett, head of mission for the African Union’s Diaspora Africa Forum, said: “We are thrilled to see the Ghana Government recognising the tremendous contribution Nana Rita has made to Ghana socially, as well as economically. This is a historical day for those of us from the diaspora.”
Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, Ghana’s deputy minister of foreign affairs and regional integration, agreed.
“Indeed Mrs Rita Marley continues to leverage her unique name recognition to showcase Ghana and talk up Ghana’s pan-Africanist role and tourism potential at every opportunity,” he said.
Born Rita Anderson in Cuba, and raised from an early age in Jamaica’s Trench Town, Marley’s musical career began in the early sixties as a vocalist with the all-female group The Soulettes who appeared with the Four Tops, Johnny Nash and other stars of the day.
By the early seventies, Rita and Bob had developed the I-Threes, Jamaica’s leading female singers (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths), to provide support harmonies for Bob Marley and the Wailers, who had become the first reggae act to secure an international recording contract.
They quickly graduated to the world stage and the songs of love, hope, unity and struggle became the vehicle that transported reggae music, the message of Rastafari, and the culture of Jamaica across the planet.
On her official website she notes, “Reggae is the heartbeat of a person. It’s the people’s music. Everywhere you go, you get the same response from both black and white.