A mother's touch Image

by Biko Kennedy

The unconditional love of a mother surpasses all time, distance and hardship. The foreverness of her smile and tenderness of her touch spokes loudly without even saying a word with Bob Marley's widow, Rita, working tirelessly to protect the legacy of the musical icon and his children.

The renowned first lady of the Marley family, now 67 years of age, who mothered five of Bob's children - David Nesta "Ziggy" Marley, Stephen Robert Nesta "Raggamuffin" Marley, Cedella Marley, Sharon Marley and Stephanie Marley (the latter two being adopted from her previous relationships) – intimated to The Gleaner that parenting proved to be a challenge in itself but she was determined not to let any of her children, biological or adopted, grow to be a bad fruit because she failed to accept or confront the task.

"As a young mother and widow, it was a challenge raising 11 children. My husband's children also became my own. I had to love them all equally. Everyone was treated as one," she explained noting that there was no preference or difference looked upon any of them.

She pointed out however that she held a more watchful eye over her daughters main because of the community they were in.

"Most of my children, Sharon, Cedella, Ziggy and Steve were born and raised in Trench Town. They had the ghetto experience since they were born and raised there. Yet, this had no negative impact on them,"  she expressed while annexing the many accomplishments of her children musically and otherwise. "They have proven through their decorum and global achievements that any child from the ghetto could attain his or her goals."

The key to achieving these goals, she noted, partly lies with the parents fulfilling their responsi-bility, facing up to the challenges of being a good mother or father, especially in an inner city.  "Today's youth will eventually become tomorrow's leaders. There are good and bad leaders. With positive parental guidance, our youth can become good leaders."

Cedella Marley in a 2011 interview with the Jamaica Observer described her mother as "the backbone" of the family and a very big influence in her life.

"She is strong and dignified, wise, kind, optimistic, industrious, unselfish, caring. There's something really cool about a mom like mine," the younger Marley stressed in an e-mail query from the Observer, acknowledging her mother Rita as an obviously "rare breed". 

Cedella continued saying "First, her high energy is a rarity in itself. But most importantly, she always kept her family her number one priority. She taught me the art of multi-tasking with grace. She taught me about positive thinking. She demonstrated what unconditional love and commitment to a marriage and family is. She showed me that sometimes you have to make really tough decisions and stick with them. 

My mom made work look fun and exciting. She taught me that being successful in everything you do is a great thing because it provides endless opportunities for your family." Looking back at the success she has had raising her children Rita is truly standing proudly, all smiles.

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