The Gleaner: KINGSTON, Jamaica – Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Donna Hope, has blasted as “cavalier and cruel,” recent rumours of the death of Marley matriarch, Rita. On Saturday, several reports surfaced on the worldwide web that the widow of reggae icon Bob Marley had passed away on Friday. The attention became so overwhelming that Marley’s daughter, Cedella, had to post a video of her mother to keep the rumours from spreading even further.
In that post to her official Instagram page, Cedella showed her mother vibing to some Bob Marley music. “Jamming wid @officialritamarley on this beautiful day,” she captioned the video. In the footage, Rita though fairly inaudible, was alive and well. She managed to muster up the words “Good morning, I love you.” Social media users filled the comments section with sighs of relief as they gave thanks the news was mere rumours. “They always trying to kill off Rita Marley. KMT, glad she is in good health,” user jamaica_di_bbw commented. “Oh Jah love…Fyah burning inna wicked man, a spread the fake news about. Love you Queen,” user somostodosguerreirosofficial also posted.
Cedella Marley’s video was reposted by Minister of Entertainment and Culture Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange on her Instagram account and the caption indicated that she had a conversation with Rita Marley on the weekend. She wrote, “Love you sister Rita. Nice talking to you today. Jah Bless!”
In an interview with The Gleaner, Hope said this was not the first time this kind of rumour has started surrounding Mrs Marley. “This is about the third time that people have tried to kill her off. Yes, she has been ill and we know she is not a young woman, but we are grateful that Nana Rita Marey is still with us. And, until it is time for her to go, people need to ensure that if you get information that says that Mrs Marley is no longer with us, confirm it before you post it. She has family members, children, grandchildren, friends, people who love her and many of us who value her highly and who will be affected by the news,” she said. “Can you imagine if this was your family member and you see this kind of news on social media? It is cavalier, it is unkind and it is immoral,” she said.
Hope added that actions like these are fuelled by need for people to go viral. “People want to be the first to break a story and so the usual etiquette in announcing the death of someone is thrown to the wind these days,” she continued. “Before we had social media, traditional media had a rule that if there was for example, an accident and someone died they would not post the details of the person until the immediate family was informed and has made some kind of announcement themselves. You can’t announce someone’s death in media like that and leave the family to learn the news there especially without confirmation. Those things have consequences,” she stressed.