Marley’s Wife Denies Reburial Plans

Rita Marley, wife of late reggae legend Bob Marley, has denied reports that she ever planned to exhume her husband’s body from its resting place in Jamaica to rebury it in Ethiopia.

Initially, the widow was reported as saying Bob Marley would be reburied in his “spiritual resting place,” which is near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

The reburial was said to be planned sometime after February, when monthlong celebrations of Marley’s 60th birthday are planned in Ethiopia.

“We are working on bringing his remains to Ethiopia,” she was quoted as saying. “It is part of Bob’s own mission. Bob’s whole life is about Africa – it’s not about Jamaica.”

That prompted angry reactions in Jamaica, where the people feel a reburial would rob the Caribbean island of its national heritage.

But now, Rita insists her words were “twisted,” Bob Marley Foundation Managing Director Desta Meghoo-Peddie told the BBC.

“She does express honestly and candidly the fact that Bob, as a Rasta man, loved Ethiopia and she would love to see the day where he is laid to rest in his father’s land,” Meghoo-Peddie said. “She has never been secretive about that.

“But we have never ever put out anything saying Bob is going to be exhumed and returned home, and it is very painful to see something so wonderful being twisted.”

In addition to the denial, a spokesperson for the family reportedly released a statement quoting the widow as saying Jamaica “will remain the resting place for Bob Marley for the foreseeable future.”

Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981 at age 36.

Meanwhile, Rita, along with the African Union and U.N. Children’s agency, has organized celebrations, including a concert on the singer’s February 6th birthday. The show will be held in Addis Ababa.

African and reggae artists – including the Marley Family, Senegal’s Baaba Maal and Youssou N’Dour, and Benin’s Angelique Kidjo – will perform as part of the $1 million program. The event is expected to be broadcast in Africa and beyond.