No woman, no cry

Amazing how fast life can change on you. You are plugging along and you wake up one day and everything changes. Well, we had three days like that last week. Funny how when it rains, it pours. And all you can do is just keep plugging along, knowing better days will come.

I have been reading Rita Marley’s most amazing book No Woman, No Cry. It’s amazing to hear the stories of Bob Marley as a young man in love, father and visionary. It was inspiring to hear Sister Rita’s story of self-discovery, growth and healing. She had to face such darkness and difficulties, yet she came out with her head held high.

After the jump, wisdom from Nana Rita’s most excellent book, as I seek to bring healing to myself, my family and our global village.

If you know what life is really worth, then you will go for yours on earth

Rita Marley has a remarkable life story, both during Bob’s life and after his passing. She understood Bob’s gift and his legacy, but always had the sense of self to not let it overrun her life and the lives of their children. She tried to let the good parts of Bob get through to the kids, while protecting them from the negative influences that come with fame, fortune and the life-style. After his death, she continued in service to his musical legacy and the talents and gifts of their children. She made many sacrifices and suffered much persecution, publicly and privately, but she has just continued on the path laid before her. Because she understood that Bob’s  greatest gift to her was his gift to the world — to help us see the best in ourselves. That’s the legacy she has devoted her life to preserving.

Who do you think you’re talking to?

Rita was Rita before she met Bob. She was from a musical family and she always wanted better for herself and later, her children. She wasn’t afraid to assert her needs and did not apologize for taking care of her own. She had to find her voice and use it, in a culture and a time when: “…I was shocked to discover that to some Jamaican men, women were for sex, cooking, washing clothes, having babies, shutting up and taking licks.” (p. 174) But not young Miss Rita, no, not her.

When they were gone I told myself no, no this is where I put on my armored suit. It’s time to fight. Seems like there’s gonna be a war here. Bob passed in 1981, and in ’82 the war started….We had a battle, man. I had a batter. Those people whom I thought would embrace me and support me just to keep Bob’s musical legacy going —  I did not know that they were carrying such grudges and wanted only revenge. When I realized this, I said oh no.   I sat down with my family to discuss the situation and they agreed that no, this could not be right. So I had to turn my wheels, and this when Rita’s Marley Music came into the picture. I established my own company, and called it RMM — which still means Robert Marley Music, because I’m R and he’s R, so it’s Rita and Robbie, whatever way you want to look at it. (p. 175)

Family first

Rita always made the children’s welfare her priority. Sometime it meant making very difficult decisions, like having to be away from some children to find work abroad. Later, when she felt like Bob’s lifestyle was not good for her nor the children, she moved them out to a little house by the sea. It was not always easy to be Bob Marley’s children, but Nana Rita is well pleased with them all:

But indeed they have managed, and very well. The best thing about these kids is that they’re so — what should I call them? Not only obedient, but they’re kids without any airs. They don’t have attitudes, I guess you might say. They’re just open. And friendly. Very natural, down to earth. They don’t feel that because their daddy is so and so, then they must be so. No, they were taught to be themselves. And they were taught at an early age, humility is the first policy. And manners. Those Things. We don’t have money, but we’re going to have good manners. Just that alone — if you say good morning, and thank you, you make a good impression…Not  many problems back then, and now they are grown, with children of their own, and they haven’t forgotten what they were  taught. (p. 187)


Miss Rita has been an activist both then and now. As she puts it, “It was always our way to be giving.” In those early years, she was always glad to share what they received with those around them. She wanted better for everyone, not just their own. For example, when she moved her and the kids out to Bull Bay she was proud that the benefits they received, such as electricity and water, were also extended to the houses around them. And as she made her property a home, more people began to fill up the government houses by the ocean.

Today the Rita Marley Foundation has a very simple vision: The aged be protected, the infants nourished and cared for. She has spent her later years in service, both in Jamaica and in Africa, where she has long resided in Ghana.

We don’t think there’s any “contentment.” Yes, we’re living a certain way that we can afford to, we’re driving cars and all that. But there’s never a moment that we forget the people who can’t. And how we can help, not just by giving, but by teaching….Because our purpose isn’t all about giving, it’s about achievement and self-sufficiency….It’s very satisfying to know that not only money but knowledge is being given. To me, that’s most important.

The power of doing good

Wealth and fame are things that I see as added, not given. What is given is life and for whatever is added, give thanks. If sometimes it seems as if more is added, I give more. And then it seems as if when you give, you get. It’s a blessing when you find that you’re allowed to make other people happy in whatever way you can. And I have a feeling that just by doing good, I’ve grown to understand the value of doing good.(pp. 199-200)

Everything about Ms. Marley reminds me of the quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I love how Ms. Rita explains it:

As for what I did to make this happen — I simply decided to live a certain way.  Now what I appreciate most about the life I chose is that the past hasn’t disappeared but is reflected in and flows into the present, and this seems important….I guess it goes back to the idea I kept hold of, that Rita meant something. Rita came for a purpose. Rita had a life to leave. Plus Rita now has children, and she’s living to be here for them. (pp. 185-186)

What’s your purpose?

Gotta LOVE her yellow kicks!

Related Posts by Bonita Appleblog

Sowing the seeds of love


Story of Stuff

Signs of the Revolution – A smile and the Thanks Dude wave


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