Rita Marley was named a living legend along with Malawi President Joyce Banda during a glamorous gala at Bingu International Conference Centre in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, on Sunday.
The awards, from the Africa Diaspora Forum, marked the end of a two-day African International Media Summit (Aims) organised by the Africa Communications Agency (ACA) which envisages positive portrayal of the continent often associated with war, hunger, disease, poverty and corruption.
Like the President, the widow of the legendary reggae artist Bob Marley, famed as Nana Rita in Ghana, received the award in recognition of their humanitarian and development efforts which are changing lives on the continent.
Despite carving an illustrious music career since the death of her spouse in 1981, Rita heads The Bob Marley Foundation in Ghana. In its citation, ACA praised the charity not only for fighting hunger and poverty in the coffee-growing country but also building schools and hospitals across the continent.
Rita, who was clad in Rastafarian colours and kept interacting with local rastas, was speechless when her works received special recognition, saying: â€œWe live to serve.â€
On her part, Malawiâ€™s first female President promised to continue helping the poor, especially pupils learning under a tree, girls trapped in early marriages as well as women suffering abuse in their homes and expectant mothers dying while giving birth.
Previous winners of the recognition including celebrated South African leaders Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, former UN general secretary Kofi Annan of Ghana and Nigerian author Wole Soyinka.
Before the Living Legends accolades, ACA bestowed Achievers Awards on Dr Alvin Singh, Dr Erikana Chihombozi, Dr Deka Etobi, Dr Andrew Hazley, Dr Tina Gresham and Erick Wright.
To add the icing on the cake, African Diaspora Doctors donated medical supplies to public hospitals which have made headlines due to shortage of essential drugs lately.
In his speech, ACA ambassador Erieka Bennett said Africa is on the move and deserves positive images in popular media.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu singled out the issuance of licences to 15 radio stations as a symbol of governmentâ€™s commitment to supporting media freedom and safeguarding free speech to ensure Malawians are always well informed.
The summit pooled Malawian journalists with their international counterparts to discuss their role in reversing demeaning depiction of the continent. However, the Sunday banquet attracted high-profile delegates, including Dr. Julius Garvey, the son of black empowerment theorist Marcus Garvey.