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Marleys migrate to West Africa

Balford Henry, staff reporter

Rita Marley shares her birthday cake with the villagers of Konkonuru at her Ghanaian home two months ago. - Contributed

Did you know that Marleys have moved to Ghana? That's right, the entire clan of three dozen plus have packed up and gone to Africa, their new home

The signs have been there since last year that matriarch of the family, Rita Marley, widow of the late reggae megastar Bob Marley, was considering setting down roots in the West African country. But, who would have guessed that eventually the whole family, including 37 grandchildren, would have moved with her to a huge house overlooking Accra, now her permanent home?

Mrs. Marley is currently back in Jamaica for two weeks, during which she is making preparations for the release of her new album Sunshine After Rain. The album was named after a track she co-wrote with English musician Dennis Charles and his wife in London.

The most interesting revelation from our conversations, however, turned out to be the fact that she has moved to Ghana accompanied by the whole family and their house staff, including her cooks and two of their sons whom she has adopted, to a sprawling house on the hills overlooking Ghana.

In Ghana Mrs. Marley is known as Nana Afua Addobea 1.

"That's home now. As a Rastafarian, I had been looking for a base in Africa and Ghana is the most peaceful place there. There is lots of development going on and it's so peaceful," she explained.

"It's got to be heaven. Ziggy is in the mountains writing right now and Steve is on the road, Cedella is running her clothing line in Miami. We live in a big family house and the whole family is there, including 37 grandchildren," she said.

Since moving there, she said she has established a day care centre and school for children and has actually adopted at least 30 children. She is running her Rita Marley Foundation from Accra. The Foundation is a non-governmental organisation financed with money from the Bob Marley Trust as well as private donations which works toward the alleviation of poverty among the people of the developing countries.

The Foundation has already been involved in building a main road to Konkonuru; supporting the village of Fete Kekabre, on the road to the Cape Coast, with food, medicine and clothing; bringing water to Konkonuru and remodelling the basic school and distributing articles including books, soaps and toothbrushes to a number of villages.

"I see myself still as a Jamaican, but Africa is our roots and I was always looking forward to this transition," she said.

Ghana really seems to be the main attraction for people of African descent moving back from the west these days. Singer/actor Isaac Hayes now lives in a nearby village, where he has been working on the development of information technology and Jamaican music producer, Stewart Brown, who has repatriated there with his famous sound system, African Star, now lives in an Accra suburb.

"Nigeria is more like New York, but Ghana is a lot more like what we expect Africa to be," Mrs. Marley pointed out.

She says that she had no problem adapting to the culture and customs of Ghana and has been eating mostly Fufu, breadfruit, ackee and plantains.

She admits that she is still having problems digesting Fufu, which tastes like cassava. The Ghanaians, she says, don't eat ackee and were surprised to see Jamaicans taking a liking to it. And they don't roast breadfruit, but drink it as a juice.

In fact, she says, her family has now found that a boiled "turn" breadfruit, or a ripe blended oned, mixed with a Guinness and condensed milk is considered a powerful aphrodisiac.

The Marleys are so settled in Ghana that they are building a new studio there, which means they won't have to fly back to Jamaica to do recordings. She said that the studio will not be restricted to the family, but will be open to commercial users.

"They are very musical there and they love reggae. In fact they have a radio station, Vibes FM, which is just like Irie FM: They play good reggae music all the time," she said.

Mrs. Marley said she has been laying down the basis for her autobiography, No Woman No Cry, which is certain to create a stir in the book business when it is to be published.

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