Are You Qualified to Marry a Great Leader?


Have you seen the movie Selma? Or read about Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr?

Have you heard of Bob Marley and the Wailers?

I bet you have. Last weekend, I was watching a documentary on Netflix (Marley) about Bob Marley’s life, and a lot of things struck me as interesting – how his mother got pregnant at 16 by a white man who was in his 60s, how his community considered him an outcast because of his mixed race and his paternal relatives shunned him – not surprising given the era he was born in. Hell, I’m sure some people still get teased for being mixed.

Bob was also terribly shy, and a very strict father according to he and Rita Marley’s children. And I found the singer’s energy and personality hella sensual and attractive though I was watching decades old footage of him.

Rita. Here’s where I drew the parallel between her and Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Remember the stories floating around about Dr. King’s infidelity? The same was true for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad – and I’m sure other great male leaders of past times.


Bob and Rita were married in 1966 when she was 20 years old and he was 21. Although he went on to have eleven children by seven different women altogether (three with Rita), she remained a backup singer for Bob Marley and the Wailers, and she remained his wife, friend and confidante through many ups and downs and even an extramarital affair of her own. And to his credit, Bob adopted two of Rita’s children who were not biologically his (bringing his total number of children up to thirteen).

According to Rita, she understood that they were “on a mission” [and that was bigger than his extra marital relationships.] His purpose, of bringing peace to Jamaica and the rest of the world was bigger than their relationship. One of her daughters offered that at times Rita was in pain obvious emotional pain, and the kids witnessed this, and those were the times when their father gathered them up and took them for ice cream to change the mood.

In her autobiography, No Woman No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley, Rita Marley wrote of his affairs and two pending children with other women [1972]: “I was very upset at first to learn about all this, though it’s common in Jamaica. But since then, I’ve come to love both of these boys and to think of them as my sons.”

I have a newfound respect for Rita after watching the documentary. “I was his guardian angel,” she said. “I was the one he called to come and get women out of his hotel room. And I would say come on ladies, [let Bob rest] we have a show to do tomorrow.”

I don’t know if I could have been that selfless. Surely a heavy burden comes with being a super star’s wife, and especially a leader who has answered the call to change the world and raise the consciousness of millions of people – they’re traveling, they’re ministering, they’re risking their sanity, their lives and their own emotional well-being. And their family’s well-being. I learned that Rita and Bob, and some of their band members were shot by a rogue gunman from one of Jamaica’s dueling political parties.

I guess I could take a lesson in patience from Rita Marley, and Coretta Scott King. Maybe. Or maybe a lesson in selflessness for the greater good of the majority? Maybe a lesson in supporting your husband (or wife) no matter how heavy the weight or the emotional toll.

I’m sure he was a fierce supporter of hers as well. I would imagine so.

Maybe the upsides outweighed the pain. Both of these women were right by their mens’ side amidst the tumultuous making of history. And I bet at the end of the day, neither of them would have traded the overall experience for anything.

In fact, Rita reminisced happily about their experiences on the road – both good and bad. And when her husband was in his final days, dying from cancer in a hospital in Miami, she gathered up his children in Jamaica – even the ones from other mothers, and said “come on children, your daddy wants to see you” and boarded a plane with them to grant his wish.

That I could do. I love her for that and I’m inspired. It just reminds me that it’s bigger than “us.” So much bigger.

Watching the documentary, I could never gauge what all went on behind the scenes – what type of agreement they had as husband and wife. Bob openly said he disagreed with the “Western” concept of marriage. But I know she suffered. As did he.

Bob Marley was a phenomenal artist (an understatement), and watching him perform, I feel like there was some force other than his own that guided him to write those powerful lyrics and move the masses. The messages are still very much valid today.


Are you qualified to marry a great leader in this regard? One who fathers children outside the marriage and keeps what is presumably a harem of women at some odd times or others? Or even one other woman?

Do you think you would be aware of the magnitude of the mission your spouse was called to carry out and just do your best to play a supporting role? I guess one could gather or argue that the women were also called, and their role was prominent. And therefore they were rightly qualified from the outset.

Some also call into question certain leaders’ greatness because of their extramarital affairs. Does one thing have to do with the other?




Categories: Entertainment, Inspiration, Random, Random Thoughts

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23 replies

  1. This was interesting to read. I’ve always loved reggae, dancehall and ska, and I was fascinated by Bob Marley’s biography as a teenager. But no, I couldn’t be as forgiving as Rita. It seems like Rita was quite a superstar herself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! No, I don’t think I would’ve been as forgiving, but when you marry…its til death do you apart. You’re supposed to work out whatever situation that’s harming your marriage.

    In my opinion, every woman will say they are not forgiving, but I will say…. I don’t care but on that note , it’s because of what I have learned over the years. There is no such thing of a perfect marriage.

    I would be a fool if I allow him to be with all of these other women. In my eyes, that means he don’t care and he doesn’t respect me. At the same time… bills don’t stop.!😉 Ijs… Men will be men and women will be women.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for chiming in. You’re right. Oftentimes we say what we won’t do until it comes right down to it, but i know I have a bit of a crazy side that couldn’t survive all those other women without getting out of hand. LOL. Even one would throw me for a serious loop – off my rocker.

      Interesting comment about ’til death do you part’ in a marriage. IF/ WHEN I ever get married, I would not use that phrase in my vows. It’s too much pressure. If we have irreconcilable differences or grow too far apart, the door should be open to seek happiness, versus suffering forever for the sake of a vow. I would like more to wake up every day and renew my commitment for as long as we like one another and can make one another a priority in a thriving partnership.


  3. I don’t think I could be as forgiving as Rita. I have a temper I work hard to keep in control of. But GOD and a mothers and grandmothers PRAYERS I’m still holding a tight grip on my temper. So no I couldn’t do what Rita did and still stand.
    I’ve seen that documentary and I enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think women like Rita and Coretta also see the bigger picture. Could I stay with a regular man who cheats on me and father’s children? Probably not. Getting cheated on is not a fun situation to find yourself in and is it fair for my son to witness the foolishness of my marriage and see that is the way he is supposed to behave? Nope.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is an interesting post and it inspires quite a few questions in me but I’ll just ask three.

    1. If a great woman behaved like some of these great men had, would the world forgive her? Would we acknowledge the path she was on and recognise the temptation and pressure that come with positions of power? I don’t think we would. I think our standards for woman are far too high to accept this kind of weakness in them. I see it in the news, I see it with my friends; if a man cheats, even if he’s negatively judged, there’s an inherent sense of acceptance around the affair. If a woman cheats, she’s a demon, a devil who must be burnt. I find this particularly interesting when a man who is stringing along numerous women doesn’t see the irony of breaking up with his girlfriend who he caught cheating.

    2. What standards are people in positions of power and influence held to? Can they be judged as regular men? The more documentaries and interviews I see about people who’ve changed the world, the more I realise that in order to change the world you need to be different. These people often don’t look at the world in the same way as society and this is essential because if they did they wouldn’t have the vision or the commitment necessary to change the world. So they’re inherently different and immune to the restrictions of modern thinking so should their actions be outside of society’s moral stance? I guess they have to be because to restrict them, would be to halt their path and the progress they’ll bring.

    3. Is cheating the dealbreaker we’ve been taught it is? I always use to say yes until someone cheated on me. I considered leaving them but I knew in my heart that our relationship hadn’t run its course and I would eventually get back together with her so why not save time and just forgive her now? Cheating is so common place in my peers, social media and it’s even managed to seep its way into my own thoughts that I’ve become so desensitised to it that I almost don’t view it as wrong anymore. It almost just seems like a obligatory mistake that people in relationship make. I don’t think it’s the worst thing that someone can do to you and if they’re discrete and I never find out or never feel any repercussions then I could live with it.

    This is a really interesting question and a great debate to have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with all points you used to substantiate/ answer your questions. Yes, women are held to a different standard, unfairly. Slut shamed and the rest. And men are touted as having more “commitment issues” to begin with so that leaves more room for empathy and forgiveness.

      Second, yes, you absolutely have to have a rare and different mindset to affect such change in the world. Agreed. It involves a lot of Self sacrifice and risk, and in my opinion a higher calling. MLK and Bob Marley both said they were prepared to die for what they felt was their mission. Soldiers are trained to prepare to die, for someone else’s cause most often. But these men had a broader expanse.

      Third, I thought it was sweet that you acknowledged the relationship hadn’t run its course. I was always of the mindset that I would cut someone off (for even less) and that life would go on. Because I’m strong and I’ll get over it. Cheating would still be extremely difficult and I wouldn’t want to deal (at all) but if you knew you were gonna take her back eventually, yes, good call. I’m learning to give leeway in a lot of ways, but that one is tough! Honor your commitment. I can’t think of many worse things. I haven’t been cheated on that I know of (other than when I was a teenager!).

      Unsure how I missed this comment, but glad I found it.


  6. Fascinating. I often think of celebrities and superstar athletes and their spouses. I can’t imagine not having to understand that affairs would come with the territory. It’s part of the act, the Godlike status…

    I’m in no way a proponent of it. But I would hope that these folks have some sort of agreement in place to prevent unnecessary hurt. I recall Ozzy Osbourne and his wife talking about it. They have a long marriage and her rule was something like not bringing the women home, talking about it or having more than one tryst with the same woman. It seems to have worked for them so I suppose it’s possible.

    I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t watch it happen and live properly. I don’t consider that a selfless act I could deal with. I could care for another child because it’s not their fault. But I couldn’t do that life on a regular basis. I shudder at the thought of multiple D-days. It would break me.

    Fun post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • My sentiments too. I’m not that selfless either! It’s amazing tho, how lax and willing to compromise some people become when they want to hold on to someone. I’ve matured enough to compromise in ways I hadn’t before (like allowing time and space) but never on this. It would drive me crazy. At least we know our limits! Thx for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wooow!!!
    With him doing that, he’d be out of there.
    But on the token of marriage material for a great leader, he /she must be on the same page. How can two walk together unless they are agreed? If not this would pose an unfair hindrance to the individual. Don’t think all about yourself but think of yourself less.

    As always a great read.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, I wouldn’t relish the limelight. I’d hate the constant intrusion on my life by strangers, well-meaning or not. Can you imagine not being able to go into a mini mart, a movie, out to dinner, or even just to pick up dry cleaning without being noticed, spoken to, photographed, etc? I couldn’t. And for the infidelity? Being a public figure, on a mission for the betterment of society, etc, doesn’t give someone free reign to fuck around. Now, if the two parties agree to an open relationship, do your thang. But I don’t see how fucking anyone you want, and having children with multiple different people, relates to making a positive change for the good, spreads ones message, or results in social reformation, male or female.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I’d relish in the limelight either with all the constant scrutiny. (I think best selling authors have less of a time with this. We – and not that I’m famous yet, can move through life more inconspicuously.) Also agreed re free reign comment, but apparently it’s accepted by some. And some women stick around, maybe no more than non-famous couples, but still. I think I’ve learned to separate their lasting contributions to the world from their character flaws in the marriages. One doesn’t negate the other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s very true. Just using your two examples though, of Marley and Dr. King, obviously their marital issues do nothing to diminish their contributions to society. But you posed the question in terms of being in a relationship with them. The societal contributions are completely seperate from that institution. Could I live with a chronically cheating wife or raise her children from other men? Just because she was famous or brilliant or shaped history? Nope.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Think her Caribbean up bringing helped Rita – that is English speaking Caribbean, since I am not sure about the rest of the region. Women get accustomed , especially decades ago, of men cheating… it is the norm. I know of men who had families in neighbouring districts and the women seemed to be pregnant in tandem, so that one was always pregnant and the other seemed to be ‘about to get pregnant’. he had 26 or so. The siblings were friendly but the women were always in conflict.
    Today women continue to curse each other and compete while sharing a man. I think they should deal with the men and not with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yes I agree that part of it was probably cultural, although “side babies” happen everywhere. even here in the states, I think women were more accepting back then because they were more dependent on men for sustenance. even still, I view it as a choice. no one is worth “competing” for.

      Liked by 1 person

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