The wife of reggae star Bob Marley said Wednesday that she plans to exhume his remains in Jamaica and rebury them in his “spiritual resting place,” Ethiopia.
The reburial is set for February when monthlong celebrations of Bob Marley’s 60th birth anniversary will be held in Ethiopia and both Ethiopian church and government officials have expressed support for the project, Rita Marley told The Associated Press.
“We are working on bringing his remains to Ethiopia,” said Rita, the former backing singer for Marleys band, The Wailers. “It is part of Bob’s own mission.”
Marley was born in St. Ann, Jamaica on Feb. 6, 1945 but died of cancer in 1981.
Rita said Marley would be reburied in Shashemene, 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Addis Ababa where several hundred Rastafarians have lived since they were given land by Ethiopia’s last emperor, Haile Selassie.
Hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans embraced Haile as their living god and head of the Rastafarian religious movement.
Marley was a devout Rastafarian, a faith whose followers preach a oneness with nature, grow their hair into long matted strands called dreadlocks and smoke marijuana as a sacrament.
“Bob’s whole life is about Africa, it is not about Jamaica,” said Rita, a Cuban-born singer who married Marley in 1966.
“How can you give up a continent for an island? He has a right for his remains to be where he would love them to be. This was his mission. Ethiopia is his spiritual resting place,” she said. “With the 60th anniversary this year, the impact is there and the time is right.”
Together with the African Union and the U.N. children’s agency, Rita has organized celebrations in Ethiopia, including a concert on Marley’s birthday to be held in Addis Ababa.
The monthlong celebration, dubbed “Africa Unite” after one of Marley’s songs, aims to raise funds to help poor families in Ethiopia.
The Marley Family, Senegal’s Baaba Maal and Youssou N’Dour, Angelique Kidjo of Benin and other African and reggae artists will sing as part of the US$1 million (