OMAR Ford, 16, was named the winner of the inaugural Rita Marley Foundation Essay Competition held at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road, St Andrew, on Wednesday.
A student of Papine High School in St Andrew, Ford’s essay, entitled Bob Marley, His Music and Message, topped a field of nearly 1,000 entries. The competition was held among Papine High School, Haile Selassie High School in Kingston, Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St Ann, and Bob Marley Primary and Junior High School in St Ann.
Rita Marley, widow of reggae icon Bob Marley, said she was pleased by the number of entrants in the competition’s first year.
“I am overjoyed by the positive response from the youth as well as the interest shown from persons in Jamaica and all over the world. This was the first essay competition organised by the Rita Marley Foundation and almost 1,000 essays were submitted. It is so wonderful,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Marley, who was also a member of her husband’s harmony trio The I-Three, said the idea of an essay competition came about as a means to encourage students to read and write well.
“Education is the key to open all doors. We are preparing them to open doors ’cause there are more questions than answers,” she said.
Marley said due to the success of the inaugural staging, next year the competition will be held on a national level.
The competition saw second place going to Tia Green (Haile Selassie High School); third to Damain Walker (Bob Marley Primary and Junior High School) and fourth place to Suwayne Josephs. The winners received trophies, medals and certificates.
The winning essay will be published in the upcoming issue of Harambe (the Rita Marley Foundation newsletter).
In addition to Marley, the judges were Dr Kadamawe Knife (lecturer at the University of the West Indies); Dr Donna Hope-Marquis (director of the Institute of Caribbean Studies, University of the West Indies); Dr Raymond Hitchins (ethnomusicologist, University of the West-Indies); and Dr Leahcim Semaj (change consultant, Job Bank).