Nana Rita Marley, Widow of late Jamaican reggae artiste, Bob Marley, has urged Africans and black people in the Diaspora to promote unity on the African continent.
Nana, who spoke through Eleanor Wints, of the Rita Marley Foundation, was the guest of honour at the 5th annual commemorative debates held for late Afro-beat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti- “The Fela Debates,” in Lagos, South-west Nigeria. The debate was entitled “Movement of the People”- The Fela and Bob Marley Perspectives.
Nana stated that unity and Pan-Africanism was common to both Fela’s and Marley’s music, stating that they both shared many things in common, including having to marry many wives.
“An ardent part of Bob Marley’s dream was ‘Africa Unite’ and, we must join hands and hearts to keep unity across the African continent, the Diaspora and the entire world. One heart, One strength, One soul and One God for us all, ” Nana, said.
A speaker, Professor John Collins, spoke of the influence Africa’s foremost nationalist and Ghana’s former President, Kwame Nkrumah, had on Fela and his music. Collins, who purported to have associated with Fela since the 1970s, explained that Fela’s music was shaped by his devoutness to the philosophy of Pan-Africanism, which Nkrumah championed.
He stated that Nkrumah, like other African leaders during his time, used music to promote the decolonization struggles. He mentioned that Nkrumah espoused high-life because it was “trans-ethnic, detrabilised and supported the independence struggle.”
Another speaker, Vivien Goldman, a British journalist and writer, spoke of the connection between the works of Fela and Marley. Goldman, who narrated her meeting Fela and how she was almost jailed by the military in 1970s while working for a documentary on the music icon at his Kalakuta Shrine in Mushin, was also Marley’s personal assistant.
She spoke of her excitement when she met Fela and the impact he had on her.
Also, Professor Sola Olorunyomi, deplored the use of ethnicity as a divisive tactic in many African countries, stressing greater bond among Nigerians and the Africans in general.
The event was moderated by the matriarch of the Ransom-Kuti family, Yemisi Kuti, who stood in for Barrister Femi Falana, senior advocate.