Alfarita “Rita” Marley, widow of legendary reggae singer Bob Marley, received a DLitt (Doctorate of Letters) from the University of the West Indies (UWI) at this year’s graduation ceremonies on October 31. She was listed among 21 honourees.
In 1996, Rita was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica, and in 2013, she received honorary Ghanaian citizenship.
“It was unexpected,” she said. “I didn’t know I would be recognised for my work in that aspect. I’m very happy and honoured to receive this award and I’m happy to be an example to others. I thank UWI for this and I will continue my work.”
An honorary doctorate is not earned through academics but by generous actions or lifetime accomplishments that benefit a community, nation or humanity in general. According the university, Mrs Rita Marley continues to make invaluable contributions to the Jamaican music industry as singer, producer, performer and entrepreneur. She has built a globally recognised empire with members of the Marley family and, by extension, the spread and reach of Brand Jamaica as a related and intertwined category.
Her music career includes noteworthy contributions to the industry, such as her Grammy-nominated album We Must Carry On. Her philanthropic outreach includes the adoption of 35 children in Ethiopia, work in the Methodist schools of Ghana as well as medical and food contributions to several homes for the aged globally. In Jamaica, the Rita Marley Foundation works with students to provide intellectual guidance and assistance with school supplies. Her business and other charitable outreach include the founding and chairing of organisations such as the Bob Marley Foundation, the Rita Marley Foundation, the Bob Marley Museum and the Marley Group of Companies.