Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Considering Tosh One Love reluctance - Tosh questions practicality of One Love Peace Concert

Published:Sunday | April 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Peter Tosh

Herbie Miller, director-curator of the Jamaica Music Museum (JaMM) in the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), was the personal manager of singer and musician Peter Tosh in 1978 and saw first-hand the Stepping Razor's reluctance to participate in the One Love Peace Concert. In the end, the reasoning that moved him to perform at the National Stadium in St Andrew on April 22, 1978, was not a belief that the concert would resolve Jamaica's deep-seated political violence, but consideration for his former Wailers bandmate, Bob Marley.

Miller said that some of the people around Tosh advised that him not performing might be interpreted as a slight to Marley, who had left Jamaica after being shot ahead of performing at the Smile Jamaica concert, held on December 5, 1976, at the National Heroes Park, Kingston. "Robbie (bass guitar player Robbie Shakespeare) was clear it might be taken as a sort of slight to Bob," Miller said. This was at a point when Tosh was not reticent about saying that Marley was once his guitar pupil.

"Some of us around him said, ' no, Peter. This is something you ought to be a part of. He relented and agreed to perform," Miller said. "There was no sense of being forced. There was no sense of, 'I have seen the light'."

Tosh's initial reluctance stemmed from his doubts that a peace plan hatched in the coincidental concurrent incarceration of leading Jamaica Labour Party- and People's National Party-affiliated gangsters would hold. "We were approached by Tommy Cowan, and in one way, it was a way to welcome Bob home. In another, it was a way to address the violence that besets us up to this day. He (Tosh) questioned whether there was a real, genuine desire to bring peace among the people. He expressed this in a very reflective way to Tommy, Robbie, me, and those around him. He questioned if these were the men to make this a success. If these were the men who were supposed to have met in jail and realised they went to school together and realised they were now shooting at each other, how could they call a truce? He did not see it as something that could be long-lasting," Miller said.

The events after the One Love Peace Concert, leading up to the extreme violence ahead of the October1980 general election, proved that Tosh was right. And he put that criticism in song, stating in the song Peace Treaty (which appears on the 1983 Mama Africa) album, "when you sign that peace treaty/I told you it wouldn't worky worky."