Many people converse on the legacy of Bob Marley. They speak on his spiritual richness, his musical genius, and other elements of his humanity. And yet, she was there. Cuban-born and Jamaica raised. An intermixing of two cultures, two nations. Rita Marley enriched the life of Bob Marley and continues his legacy. Her work and genius is not given the vigilance, as it deserves. And yet, it is filled with a wonderous richness, that few will ever gain access to.
When we examine the cultural and philanthropic work of Rita Marley, we observe a woman, who is dismantling boundaries, and bringing healing to nations. She is showcasing and highlighting the power of music to awaken rejuvenation and nourishment to children, women, and other planes of the Earth. There is something illuminating in being able to walk into a particular terrain, one not from your own birthing (immersing with the women of those planes), and contributing back to that space, in a way that heals and stimulates fruition. Continuing the foundation, that one had created with a life partner and husband; and still having that level of intimacy through music’s purpose.
From her work in Ghana West Africa (Konkonuru village in Ghana), her tour in Uganda, adopting 35 children in Ethiopia, and her projects in Jamaica, Rita Marley is making children, and the care of children, a priority. It is evident that she has extended the realm of mothering to a whole new level. Presenting motherhood as beyond the birthing of her own. That even once she has passed those prime years in giving birth, she is still continues the traditions of mothering. That’s one of the blessings of age and growing in wisdom.
The performance of Rita Marley and her son Ziggy Marley took place at the Rototom Sunsplash (August 18-27, 2011) event in Spain. On August 23, 2011, there was a musical interlude of the Black Madonna and Child. Singing “One Love”/”People Get Ready,” their very presence alone, is what channeled Bob Marley’s spirit throughout the entire concert scenario. Yet, if we were to go deeper, we notice there being a sacred realm of mother and child; especially, within this very context because a Universal love of music, unites them.
Listening to this live performance of Black Madonna and child, there is an elegance of wisdom. As mother sings, she has son by her side. Observing what time’s essence and love has produced. Standing adjacent with her son, Reggae artist and star, Ziggy Marley, mother has clearly done her job. And, a job, well done! While singing the song “One Love,” they are the epitome of love. That love between mother and child. A natural bond, which can never be broken. And, if they should ever separate, time and Mother’s love has a natural essence in to ensure that things happen as they need to be. When she has planted her seeds, and planted them well, then he will return and be near. I’m sure that mother is relieved for such a miracle to exist.
When Mother and child engage in song, there is another added factor, relating to this matter. It is as if the adult child is remembering mother’s tune and sound, when in her womb. From the very moment that life was inside, there was that connection. One can only imagine the songs whispered by Rita Marley, while pregnant with child. Caressing her belly and making sure baby senses mother wanting him to know that she is there. Mommy wants baby to know, and feel, that she is there. Just imagine Ziggy Marley’s unborn infancy listening to “Mommy’s sound.” Perhaps during his toddler stages, he began to recognize those songs. Of course it may not have clicked in, where he first learned of these tunes. Nevertheless, it is familiar to him. So, he sings. From boy to man, he sings the rhythms, beats, and joys that Mommy sang to him. This is the invisible story of Rita and Ziggy Marley’s performance, together. The process and rearing, that the public does not see. And, really, they’re not supposed to. Certain intimacies are too precious to be shown, all the time. The bond of Madonna and child is one of them.
The song, “One Love,” is a song dedicated to international unity. A song encouraging the world to come together. Simultaneously, we can interpret this in another way. After all, there is the oneness between a mother and child’s relationship. Tranquil and invisible rhythms, which align the two of them. Initially, it had been created in conception. Even more majestic is how that rhythm is intertwined to a Universal beat. There is clearly a spiritual element, associated with mother and child. When music is added to the scenario, a marriage is happening between Heaven and Earth. Their very existence together is one personification of the Earth. Mother teaching child the ways of human sensory, and therefore son is able to replicate this, through observation.
In this particular performance, there is a part where Rita Marley is singing, and Ziggy is simply dancing. Of course, it is not a particular dramatic dance. Nevertheless, it is a unique experience to observe son imitate Mommy’s rhythm. Performing that rhythm, understanding that rhythm, and celebrating that rhythm, as a man. Its a silent storytelling of a mother and child’s journey together. Even continuing that journey to the here and now. Its a fascinating performance, and it provides the audience with ample opportunity, to go deeper with this very site. They are singing a song, by Bob Marley-the father and husband. Yet, it is mother and son, who sing the dance. And, as long as the Universe allows, they will continue to do so. Their love is magnanimous and recognizes love’s Divine.
Maintaining a keen observation of the performance, let’s go back and re-imagine that same infant, inside of his mother’s womb. Watch the stage, and you can see how Mommy is leading the way. Reminding son of those steps, should he somehow miss a beat. Letting him know, that as long as he is immersed in Mommy’s beat, he will never forget the rhythm. There comes a moment in the concert, when Rita Marley is allowing the audience to sing. Holding the microphone out to the public acoustics, she gives them that opportunity to sing the words of the legend, himself. Marley’s words as Rita keeps the beat. The audience gets a taste of this Mother and son musical dynamic. A fantastical opportunity to gain a taste of the Universal, by singing the words to one song. Its spectacular, and as Mrs. Marley guides the audience, they are ever reminded that she is the foundation and the core.
The song ends and Mother and son walk off stage. This move is richly symbolic, as Mother and child are leaving as one. Where mother goes, the son will follow. That’s one of the lessons of the Madonna and Child. Life begins with Mom. In a big world, when life’s maze is confusing, a son can always find his way back, so long as he stays in tuned to her rhythm. So as long, as he remembers her sound. That same sound he first heard, while in Mommy’s womb. Its familiar. As it was implanted in him, before birth. It will never leave him, and as she goes, so he will follow.
As we continue to reflect on the work and legacy of Rita Marley, it was evident that she is the foundation for one of the greatest entertainers, singers, and musicians of all time. She was his beat. She was his rhythm. And, she was his lyrical muse. It is all very evident through this performance with Ziggy Marley. Bob Marley clearly received musical nourishment, through his wife, Rita! Music was their love, and through it they had found themselves in each other. And I don’t mean this traditional narrative of two people linking up, simply because they are singers and musicians. I mean a deep rooted, spiritual bond happening, because in their bond, music will guide them. Music will intertwine their reason for being; for breathing. That where she goes, the love will follow. This performance was proof of that.
And so, as Lady Marley, herself continues her Spiritual work, through music’s path, many children are experiencing that Madonna love. Her generosity, and ensuring other children are receiving nourishment, are ever growing. And, she will not stop until universal dreams, performed by her husband, have become present times of reality. With her son by her side, its a given that each lyric will be attuned to birthing beats.