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Rita Marley gets another doctorate

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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RITA Marley, wife of the late reggae singer Bob Marley, was one of 33 individuals who were awarded with doctorates at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) in South Africa recently. The occasion was held at the Alice Campus of the university.

This was Marley's second doctorate, having received her first from the University of the West Indies in 2015.

She was, however, unable to attend the ceremony and was represented by Rosemary Duncan — manager of the Rita Marley Foundation, who accepted her honorary doctorate in social sciences and humanities on her behalf.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Marley said she was pleased of the award bestowed on her.

“How good God is. I am that I am, a ghetto girl with great ambition, so I give thanks,” she told Observer. “It was unexpected, but such a great honour to be recognised by the University of Fort Hare, Dr Nelson Mandela's alma mater.”

University of Fort Hare is also the alma mater of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe.

Marley cited her hard work, contribution to the world, and her foundation's works as the reason for being selected.

During the award ceremony, Duncan delivered Marley's speech to the crowd of about 2,000, comprising parents and academics. With help from the choir, they sang Bob Marley's One Love.

“Whatever your career goals, as you take flight and spread your wings and soar through the skies, look down and lift someone up. The more you help to uplift others, the greater the rewards,” read Duncan.

The speech touched on high fees, UFH's rich history, and encouraged graduands to use their qualifications from Fort Hare to unlock their economical freedom in South Africa.

A former member of Marley's backing vocals, I Three, Rita Marley is known for songs including One Draw, Harambe, and Who Colt the Game.

Marley died in May 1982 of cancer.

In 1996, she was awarded the Order of Distinction by the government for her contribution to Jamaica's music.

— Brian Bonitto

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