The body of late legend Bob Marley, buried for more than two decades, is to be exhumed from a Jamaica cemetery in February and reburied in Ethiopia, the reggae artist’s wife Rita announced yesterday. Marley died of cancer in 1981 at the age of thirty-six.
Rita is determined that her husband be moved to Ethiopia, calling the birthplace of Rastafarianism Marley’s “spiritual resting place.” The Jamaican-born singer-songwriter came to embrace Rastafarianism, in which nature is honored, and followers wear dreadlocks and smoke marijuana. Hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans practice the religion.
Marley is one of the first Jamaican artists to gain worldwide recognition. Born in rural St. Ann’s on February 6th, 1945, to a middle-age white father and teenage black mother, Marley left to pursue music in Kingston. But Rita — the Cuban-born backing singer for Marley’s band the Wailers and the I-Threes, who married the artist in 1966 — claims that her husband would have placed his religious beliefs over associations with his birthplace.
A reburial ceremony for Marley is being planned by Rita, along with the Ethiopian government and church, to take place during “Africa Unite,” a month of celebrations in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of his birth named for one of his songs. On Marley’s actual birthday, February 6th, the Marley Family, the I-Threes, Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte and Youssou N’Dour will perform in the capital city of Addis Ababa. The concert is to be broadcast throughout Africa, and possibly in other parts of the world.
All “Africa Unite” events, organized by Rita, the African Union and the United Nation’s children’s agency, will benefit impoverished Ethiopian families.