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Omar Ford wins inaugural Rita Marley Foundation essay contest

Omar Ford, a student of Papine High School in Kingston, is the first winner of the Rita Marley Foundation Essay Competition
Omar Ford, a student of Papine High School in Kingston, is the first winner of the Rita Marley Foundation Essay Competition
Photo courtesy of the Rita Marley Foundation

Omar Ford, a 16-year-old student out of Papine High School, is the winner of the inaugural Rita Marley Foundation essay competition, a cause founded by Bob Marley's widow, Rita Marley to educate youths through writing and music.

The winner of the competition was announced on July 2 at a ceremony held at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica.

Participation for the competition was said to be strong, with persons across the island following the competition closely. Four schools participated: Haile Selassie High School, Marcus Garvey Technical High School, Bob Marley Primary & Junior High School and Papine High School. Just shy of 1,000 entries were written to the theme, ‘Bob Marley His Music & Message.’"

School officials selected eleven entries overall for the semifinals, with a panel of judges selecting four of them for the competition’s final state. The judges were: Dr. Kadamawe Knife, a lecturer at University of the West-Indies (UWI), Dr. Donna Hope, the director of the Institute of Caribbean Studies at UWI, Dr. Raymond Hitchins, an ethnomusicologist at the university as well as Dr. Leachim Semaj, with Rita Marley OD being the chief judge.

After thorough review of all essays, an illustrious panel of judges selected four participants to move forward to the final stage of the competition: Suwayne Josephs (Marcus Garvey Technical High School), Tia Green (Haile Selassie High School), Omar Ford (Papine High School) and Damain Walker (Bob Marley Primary & Junior High School), with Ford selected as the top prize winner:

1st place Omar Ford (Papine High School)

2nd place Tia Green (Haile Selassie High School)

3rd place Damain Walker (Bob Marley Primary & Junior High School)

4th place Suwayne Josephs (Marcus Garvey Technical High School)

Winners received trophies, medals and certificates

Ford’s essay will be published in the upcoming issue of Harambe, the official Rita Marley Foundation newsletter.

Organizers say the competition will be held on a national level in 2015.