Rita Marley 'Won't Give Up the Fight' for Africa - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/10/06

Rita Marley 'Won't Give Up the Fight' for Africa

Bob Marley's powerful and passionate lyrics - "Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight" - still call many to action, most notably his widow, Rita Marley.

She heads The Bob Marley Foundation and The Rita Marley Foundation, and her fight is the eradication of poverty in Jamaica and Africa.

"We have been funding ourselves in whatever we have been doing, especially in Ghana and Ethiopia," Marley said. "We've been doing it out of our own pockets in terms of what Bob left us."

The greatest needs are "water, food, clothing, toothbrush to brush their teeth and someone to love them," she said.

"So we have decided to give back to what is really in need and - and it's about not just black people, but every kind of people, you know," she said.

For a continent ravaged by war and disease and where the average life expectancy is just 46 years, Africa has experienced a recent influx of star power.

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Bill and Melinda Gates, and George Clooney are drawing worldwide attention to its many needs.

Marley, who has sounded the battle cry for more than two decades, welcomes the help.

"I like what Bono is doing, for instance, in Africa, by going down there and giving, giving and teaching," she said. "There are a few international people that's really putting help into Africa, and I'm so happy that I lived to see this, because I never dreamed that this would ever happen.

"But it's important that you can be an example to someone, somewhere, somehow," she said.

'A Dream Come True'

Marley has been working with the Black Eyed Peas in South Africa. She recently did a concert in South Africa to benefit South African children suffering from AIDS. They're also trying to build schools there.

You don't have to have a foundation or musical talent to help the plight in Africa, though.

"I didn't feel or even dream that I would have this privilege, because it's a privilege to do that," Marley said.

"It doesn't have to be money. ... I've taken clothing that my family has worn out. They think, 'Oh, well, I'm finished with that.' And when you go to Africa, it is like, 'Whooo, it's the first time I've ever had good shoes or had a good dress to wear.'"

Most recently, Marley sponsored 35 Ethiopian children, the youngest victims of war and AIDS.

She, along with her family, has begun organizing concerts, titled "Africa Unite," which take place on Bob Marley's birthday to raise money and awareness in her husband's name.

Marley said her late husband would see her work as "a dream come true."

"It's the reality, and it makes it easier for me to do because it's like the ground plan was made. It's done," she said.

"This is what we would do if we could and now we can. So I think we're - we're getting his blessing. Because each time I look on his smiling face, [I] can see. ... He's saying, 'Good work, Rita.' Because yes, it's for real. This is what we wanted to do."


 

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