Cul­tural icons ceme­tery be­ing re­vis­ited

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

PLANS for a na­tional fi­nal rest­ing place for the coun­try’s cul­tural icons are be­ing re­vis­ited by the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The need for this fa­cil­ity has again come to light fol­low­ing the death of reg­gae pi­o­neer “Toots” Hib­bert, and the un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion which oc­curred last Thurs­day when he could not be buried at Dove­cot Me­mo­rial Park and Cre­ma­tory in St Cather­ine as the fam­ily had not se­cured the burial order, a le­gal doc­u­ment re­quired be­fore a body can be in­terred.

Min­is­ter with re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­ter­tain­ment and cul­ture, Olivia “Babsy” Grange noted that the plans are be­ing dusted off in view of what has hap­pened re­gard­ing the in­ter­ment of Hib­bert.

“We started work on the es­tab­lish­ment of this me­mo­rial park in the Bruce Gold­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tion. So far we have de­vel­oped a con­cept, iden­ti­fied a lo­ca­tion where the rel­e­vant tests — in­clud­ing soil test­ing — have been com­pleted. We will now move to de­velop the de­signs and bud­get to present a de­tailed pro­posal to the Cabi­net.”

Mean­while, she has an­nounced that the Gov­ern­ment has stepped in and de­cided to ac­cord reg­gae leg­end Toots Hib­bert a place at Na­tional He­roes’ Park in Kingston in the sec­tion re­served for cul­tural icons.

Grange noted that in­ter­ment in Na­tional He­roes’ Park will suit­ably memo­ri­alise his con­tri­bu­tion to Ja­maica and reignite the unity in his fam­ily, among his peers and his fans, which is re­quired at this time.

She shared this had be­come pos­si­ble thanks to the gen­eros­ity of the fam­ily of the late Charles Hy­att — the ac­tor, broad­caster, di­rec­tor and author whose re­mains were due to be re-in­terred in the last burial spot for cul­tural icons at Na­tional He­roes’ Park.

“At the time of his death in Jan­uary 2007 the fam­ily of our dear Charles Hy­att had re­quested that he be buried in Na­tional He­roes’ Park, but they were told that there were no more spa­ces avail­able and he was in­stead in­terred at Mead­owrest Me­mo­rial Park in St. Cather­ine.

“It was later dis­cov­ered that there was one fi­nal burial space avail­able in the rel­e­vant sec­tion at Na­tional He­roes’ Park and the Gov­ern­ment went back to the fam­ily who de­cided that they would ex­hume Mr Hy­att’s re­mains and re-in­ter them in Na­tional He­roes’ Park,” the min­is­ter said.

Grange added that given the cur­rent need for a suit­able burial place for the late Toots Hib­bert, the Hy­att fam­ily has gen­er­ously con­sented to al­low the reg­gae leg­end to be in­terred in the fi­nal burial spot in the sec­tion for cul­tural icons in Na­tional He­roes’ Park.

“Toots is, with­out ques­tion, one of the pi­o­neers of reg­gae mu­sic. He has even been cred­ited with giv­ing the genre its name. He is a na­tional trea­sure whose hum­ble de­meanour and af­fa­ble per­son­al­ity be­lied his tow­er­ing global stature. I also en­dorse plans to erect a mon­u­ment to Toots in his home­town,” she added.

Grange also gave her com­mit­ment to en­sure that the late Charles Hy­att is memo­ri­alised in the pro­posed park.

Hib­bert, known for an­thems such as Bam Bam, Pres­sure Drop, Pomp and Pride, Money Man and Coun­try Road, died on Septem­ber 11.

It had been men­tioned that he should be buried at Na­tional He­roes’ Park, how­ever in an in­ter­view with the Ja­maica Ob­server Grange noted that a de­ci­sion has been taken that no more cul­tural icons would be buried there and the re­main­ing area will just be re­served for for­mer prime min­is­ters.

It was then an­nounced that Hib­bert would be laid to rest at his birth­place in Tread­light dis­trict, just out­side May

Pen in St Cather­ine. Plans changed, and hours be­fore his ser­vice on Thurs­day it was made known that the pop­u­lar Dove­cot Me­mo­rial Park would be his fi­nal rest­ing place. That was not to be.

Last Thurs­day, fol­low­ing a ser­vice of thanks­giv­ing for Hib­bert at Perry’s Fu­neral Chapel in St Cather­ine, the pro­ces­sion jour­neyed to the ceme­tery but it was re­alised that the doc­u­ment was miss­ing. This de­layed and ul­ti­mately post­poned the burial of the mu­si­cal icon.

No date has been set for the in­ter­ment at Na­tional He­roes’ Park.

Among the cul­tural icons in­terred at the Na­tional He­roes’ Park are reg­gae singer Dennis Brown; folk­lorist Louise Ben­nett Cover­ley (Miss Lou); ac­tor Ranny Wil­liams; and artist, cul­tural and re­li­gious fig­ure Mal­lica “Kapo” Reynolds.

The park is also the fi­nal rest­ing place and home to mon­u­ments for Ja­maica’s na­tional he­roes. For­mer prime min­is­ters Don­ald Sang­ster, Hugh Shearer, Michael

Manley and Ed­ward Seasga are also buried there, as well as Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Sir Howard Cooke.

(Photo: Naph­tali Ju­nior)

Reg­gae icon the late Toots Hib­bert

(Photo: Garfield Robin­son)

Pall-bear­ers with the cas­ket bear­ing the re­mains of Fred­er­ick “Toots” Hib­bert af­ter the fu­neral ser­vice at Perry’s Fu­neral Home in St Cather­ine, last Thurs­day.

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