Post­hu­mous award for Tosh

South Waikato News - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Twenty-five years af­ter his murder, Ja­maica’s gov­ern­ment has hon­oured the con­tri­bu­tions of fire­brand reg­gae mu­si­cian and song­writer Peter Tosh, one of the Caribbean is­land’s mu­si­cal giants.

Tosh’s daugh­ter Ni­ambe, an ed­u­ca­tor from Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts, re­ceived the post­hu­mous ‘‘or­der of merit’’ – the coun­try’s third high­est hon­our – on be­half of her late fa­ther, in an an­nual na­tional awards cer­e­mony on the lawns of King’s House, the res­i­dence of Ja­maica’s gover­nor gen­eral.

Tosh was a found­ing mem­ber of The Wail­ers, form­ing the three-man core of the group with Bob Mar­ley and Bunny ‘‘Wailer’’ Liv­ingston.

Hard-hit­ting solo al­bums like Equal Rights and his work with The Wail­ers helped make home­grown reg­gae mu­sic known in­ter­na­tion­ally.

He was cut down at age 42 in 1987, mur­dered by rob­bers in his Ja­maican home.

The al­ways out­spo­ken, de­fi­ant Tosh was known for force­fully de­nounc­ing apartheid, gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion and call­ing for the le­gal­i­sa­tion of marijuana.

Mu­si­cal col­leagues and fans say the lanky, bari­tone singer and gui­tarist was a mes­meris­ing per­former with a charis­matic, larger-than-life per­son­al­ity.

Tosh is per­haps reg­gae’s most con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure. Dur­ing the gov­ern­ment-or­gan­ised One Love Peace Concert of 1978, Tosh pub­licly ac­cused Ja­maica’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and the mid­dle class of back­ing po­lice bru­tal­ity and po­lit­i­cally charged gang war­fare amid a leg­endary 20-minute di­a­tribe.

The Ja­maican me­dia se­verely crit­i­cised Tosh for the speech, de­liv­ered to an au­di­ence that in­cluded 200 for­eign jour­nal­ists and the prime min­is­ter.

For his un­com­pro­mis­ing views and his in­sis­tence on openly smok­ing marijuana, the Rasta­far­ian mu­si­cian was se­verely beaten by po­lice on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, sus­tain­ing 32 stitches in his head, a bro­ken rib, a frac­tured arm, and a punc­tured spleen dur­ing these al­ter­ca­tions, ac­cord­ing to for­mer man­ager Her­bie Miller.

For Miller, who is also cu­ra­tor of the Ja­maica Mu­sic Mu­seum, the hon­our for the for­mer Wailer was a long time com­ing. He lob­bied Ja­maican ad­min­is­tra­tions for years to for­mally recog­nise Tosh’s ac­com­plish­ments.

‘‘When you are about truth and rights and buck­ing the sys­tem, gov­ern­ment recog­ni­tion comes af­ter a long wait,’’ Miller said.

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