Ziggy Marley accorded his mother Rita the titles “Bob’s ride or die wife” and “an African Monarch”, calling her the “Real Queen,” in what some of their supporters have referred to as a “clap back” against former Miss World 1976, Cindy Breakspeare.
Ziggy sister, Cedella Marley also praised her mother by calling her “the one and only” in a remark on Rita’s Instagram page. The former Reggae Girlz Global Ambassador added, “Many were called but you were chosen. Go deh Mrs. Marley.”
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The story started when Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s mother, Cindy Breakspeare, posted a birthday message to the late reggae hero. Shakespeare’s insight on their romance while the Marley matriarch was still alive was a point of contention for the memorial. Others chastised Rita for continuing the marriage and providing backing vocals for the songs Bob composed for the 1976 Miss World pageant, such as “Waiting in Vain” and “Turn Your Lights Down Low.”
Despite his hectic schedule promoting Bob Marley: One Love, the biopic, all around the world, Ziggy Marley had time to publish a regal account of his mother’s choices on Instagram.
“When a woman tek a bullet in her head because she loves and stands with you, and still show up days after to stand by your side again with no concern about her own safety, it does something to a man,” the Grammy-winning vocalist penned. “It tells a man something he will never forget and forever cherish. A woman like that is impossible to find, one in a billion.”
He continued his homage in the comments after characterizing his mother as a “ride or die” in a hashtag.
“I admire @officialritamarley strength, courage and dignity,” he noted. “She is truly from a lineage of African Queens and it’s not just because she is my mother. I have truly seen and every one who knows her how royal she is. I’ve got stories from my childhood of her standing up under threat that, to this day, is etched in my memory. This woman is no ordinary woman.”
Also commenting was his sister Sharon Marley: “No woman can walk in my mother’s shoes. She is the real QUEEN 👑. Thats just facts. No hard feelings.”
slideshows featuring her, Marley, and their son, along with information on the many locations where they made memories.
“Bob, on what would have been your 79th Birthday, I celebrate the incredible impact you’ve had globally, cherish our amazing son Damian, and reminisce about the beautiful times we shared,” Breakspeare wrote. “From 56 Hope Road to your mother’s home in Delaware and Miami, New York, Oakley Street in London, The Bahamas, Trinidad and beyond. The memories are countless, but our love for you is endless. Happy Birthday to the people’s hero, loved and revered by all. ❤️💛💚”
Rita and Bob were struggling ambitious musicians when they first met. They married in 1966 after quickly falling in love for a reason other than music.
The Voice said that the singer, born in Cuba, claimed that before becoming famous, her spouse “never really checked for girls.”
“He was shy and he was very…I would say snobbish…so I was very surprised when he started having all these women, because that really wasn’t him – that was not his lifestyle…” she noted.
“In fact, it was a very long time before I was able to even touch his hair. That’s how serious he was, not against women, but he was just so focused on making something of his career. So back then, there was no notion of him being about girls, girls, girls. That only came after fame, popularity, and stardom.”
In addition to becoming the mother of one of their adopted children, Rita inspired him to use her gift in his backing group, the I-Threes, to make a good difference in the world. Sadly, Rita’s devotion to Bob also led to her being a victim of gun violence in 1976 when she was shot in the head during an unsuccessful attempt to kill Bob. Fortunately, the bullet was successfully extracted during the procedure.
“He didn’t want to see any other man look at me; he was very jealous… That gave me an assurance that he really did deeply, dearly love me, and he still does because his spirit remains with me… I find it amusing sometimes the way the other women threw themselves at him… Deep down in his heart, he maybe only had one love. The other things were like a fling, or a period of time that created that sense of fantasy that comes with show business.”
Though she said in a 2014 Bob Marley lecture that she didn’t realize he was still married until she gave birth to their son Damian “Jr Gong,” his “fling” with Breakspeare began a year before she was crowned. The women stood by him during his battle with cancer, which he finally lost in 1981. After Bob’s death, Rita enhanced his legacy even more by growing his $250,000 estate into a multimillion-dollar enterprise that brings in at least $20 million annually, as reported by Forbes. Bob’s brand grew to include a museum, recording studio, vinyl and CD pressing factory, record stores, book division, and a variety of family-friendly merchandise and items including coffee, headphones, and CBD products under her direction and that of her right-hand daughter Cedella.