By RON FANFAIR
Toronto is considered “home away from home” in many ways for Rita Marley. She says she enjoyed touring here and her mother, 84-year-old Cynthia “Beda” Evans, who is in a Brampton nursing home and a brother, Wesley Anderson, have been living in the Greater Toronto Area for the past four decades.
“The city is also very clean and you get some good nutritional supplements and vitamins here,” she told Share while in Toronto last weekend for the annual Bob Marley Day celebration and the “One Love for Haiti” fundraising concert that she headlined. “It’s definitely one of my favourite cities.”
Born in Cuba and raised in Trenchtown, Jamaica, Marley has resided in Ghana for the past five years.
“Ghana is the gateway into Africa and I see Africa as part of our repatriation destiny,” she said. “As Black people, we know we came from somewhere and I believe that every vine should find its fig tree. So, I am living that reality as an example.”
She heads the Bob Marley Group of Companies and the Rita Marley Foundation that has built three schools in Ghana and one in Ethiopia. The foundation also collaborated with the Ethiopian government to construct a youth centre that will be opened shortly. As patron of the Konkonuru Methodist School in Accra, Marley successfully spearheaded repairs to the nearby main road and the drilling of a water well for the community.
Her charitable work also extends to Jamaica where the foundation set up a girls’ school for pregnant teenagers rejected by their families and she provides financial support to several Jamaican inner city organizations.
“Our foundation does a lot of work which we don’t want to mention and make public all the time,” she said. “We believe in doing more than saying what you are doing.”
The former I Threes member, whose 1982 bestseller, One Draw, made history as the first reggae single to top the Billboard disco charts, said she was honoured to perform at last weekend’s Haiti fundraiser
“I just could not wait for this show to happen,” said the mother of six children and 56 grandchildren. “Everything is in aid of Haiti and it’s crucial that we use music to see what we could do for that country that’s in desperate need of help. I believe in the power of music.”
Two of Bob Marley’s sons, Ziggy and Stephen, won Grammy awards last month.
Ziggy’s fifth Grammy was in the children’s musical album category for his all-star project, Family Time, while younger brother Stephen’s Mind Control (Acoustic) was voted the Best Reggae album.