Tanya Stephens reflects on “Just Rita”, calls Marley matriarch a hero

Jamaican singer Tanya Stephens has been thinking about Rita Marley lately, but not in the “Marley matriarch” grandeur sense.

Tanya Stephens

In an adulatory post made on International Women’s Day, Stephens reflected on Marley, “Not entertainer, not Bob’s wife, not Bob’s widow, not heir, not mother of ‘X’…just the human, Rita.”

Stephens revealed that she has tried to imagine life in her shoes, being celebrated and berated altogether.

“Rita Marley big up your bloodcl**t self! You are a bigger human than most of us will ever grow to be!”

– Tanya Stephens

“I have tried without success to feel what it must be like to stand in her skin, look with her eyes, hear with her ears,” she said. “I have tried to imagine how I would feel sitting in Jamaica, the place where I spent most of my life, the place which proudly and even selfishly claims the ownership and credit for every single one of my achievements. The place which calls me queen but often treats me like a peasant.”

She continued, “How would I feel watching my country celebrate and romanticise my betrayal? How would I feel hearing my husband’s story told through the lips of a stop along his philandering path? What would it do to me having to be strong for myself and my children knowing I’m under an unforgiving microscope which would spare no time sensationalizing any glimpse of my humanity? Could I have made it this far and long with the anger I know would often well up inside me? Would I even smile with anyone here? How would I heal from my trust issues and inevitable paranoia knowing I cannot trust my fellow countrymen with the safety of my emotions? Who would I become???”

The It’s A Pity singer said she has met Marley before but that they are not friends, neither is she proposing that they become friends.

“I just want to pay homage to one of the finest examples of courage under fire, the most visible face of endurance and triumph in our region and time. Some heroes simply survive, thrive, stand tall as evidence of what can be. Rita Marley big up your bloodcl**t self! You are a bigger human than most of us will ever grow to be!”

Marley, 74, was the victim of a malicious report in early January that she had died. The rumour was disproved by her daughter Cedella who hit back with a video recording alongside her mother.