Jamaica set to honor 120 heroes — Marley among chosen

Cedella Marley for One Love COVID-19.

Undeniably, 2020 has been a year of enlightenment, visionary pandemic revelations and challenging political campaigns.

In light of some of the unprecedented disclosures, large and small communities throughout the world unearthed heroes with more than a few elevating some to the status of superhero.

Jamaica will exalt a chosen 120 individuals on Oct. 19, during their National Heroes Day ceremony.

Officiated by the governor general, who acts as Queen Elizabeth II’s emissary, a virtual ceremony will honor those whose service to the island demonstrates exemplary dedication worthy of public acknowledgement and presentation of awards of the highest honors.

Categorized by their selfless deeds that contribute to the betterment of the island, individuals will receive the Medal of Gallantry, Order of Distinction, Order of Merit and the Order of Jamaica.

This year, the latter rewards only five citizens — mostly politicians, however the handful also includes Merlene Ottey, a nine-time Olympian who brought glory to the island winning three silvers and six bronze medals in track and field categories.

Forty-six individuals will receive the Order of Distinction in the commander class (CD).

Among them comedian Oliver Samuels and Cedella Marley.

It is probably not a surprise that the first-born to Rita and Robert Nesta Marley — granddaughter of Cedella Booker, mother to Skip, a burgeoning pop sensation, sister of Grammy winners Ziggy, Stephen, Damian, Sharon, coffee mogul, Rohan, actor/singer Kymani, Grammy nominee, Julian, along with Robert and other achieving off-springs — would achieve honorary status in Jamaica.

A designer, actress, singer, author, producer, philanthropist, she is the latest Marley to be named a national hero destined to follow in the footsteps of her parents and grandmother who previously won the distinction.

Described to be a multi-talented Jamaican, Cedella Marley will receive the Order of Distinction for her relentless effort in restoring the hopes and dreams of nationals disillusioned by the government’s abandonment of the national soccer team.

When the government all but gave up funding the Reggae Gyrlz, Marley quickly acted to the aid of the athletes, the sports industry and the island.

She rescued the national team, salvaged their reputation and in the process steered the women to unprecedented goals of qualifying for World Cup competition.

She not only supplied financial support, outfits and other tangible necessities but with her celebrity attracted publicity and world attention to the island.

Needless to say, as top cheerleader the team played in France and for the first time in the nation’s history earned a new title as trailblazers.

For this Marley, the heroic tradition might have started in 1981 when her father, the avowed king of reggae was distinguished by the government with the Order of Merit.

In 1996, her mother Rita was accorded similar honors with an OD.

And following the peaceful transition of Bob’s mother Cedella in 2008, the government of Jamaica bestowed the fifth highest civic honor to the matriarch.

Allegedly the honor rewarded her lifelong dedication to fostering the island’s music. She established a Nine Miles, sanctuary in the parish of St. Ann; championed an annual reggae festival in Miami, Florida, recorded and released the island’s genre and authored children’s books that expressed the ideals of a Jamaican upbringing.

That Cedella’s namesake offspring is now being revered with national citizenry elevates the profile of the Marley women as well as enhance the global appreciation of the gender the island regards to be fairly vested.

In addition to empowering the athletic women, Cedella surpassed expectations of honing a career as a background singer to her brother Ziggy’s Melody Makers.

Following her music career, she launched a “Catch A Fire” fashion line that blazed a trail celebrities and ordinary citizens flaunted with pride.

She fashioned the 2012 Team Jamaica Olympians with outfits that represented the black, gold and green champions in Brazil.

Simultaneously, she transitioned from singing to acting starring in big screen movie features –“KLA$H,” “Joey Breaker,” and “The Mighty Quinn.”

But when she diversified to fund the Olympic dream of her favorite football team, Jamaica took notice and for that she will be publicly regaled.

Forty-one additional recipients of the Order of Distinction (OD) will honor former Third World drummer William “Willie” Stewart, British musicologist David Rodigan, singers Keith Lyn and Eric Donaldson, journalist Barbara Ellington, and veteran DJ popularly known as Big Youth and others.

Fifty Badges of Honor will distinguish outstanding public servants who contributed to the military, the police, and government ministries.

During the COVID-19 calendar year along with brave firefighters, police officers, public servants, front-line workers and ordinary citizens performed extra-ordinary feats of distinction,

Reportedly, Cedella is elated that during her father’s 75th birthday anniversary year, she will be honored for contribution to the sport the legend loved and the one she watched him play throughout her childhood years.

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