Mon | Feb 17, 2020

Can’t Blame The Youth campaign to inspire using the legacy of Peter Tosh

Published:Friday | February 15, 2019 | 12:10 AM
Niambe McIntosh

Can’t Blame The Youth is the title of one of a plethora of controversial hit songs from late reggae singer Peter Tosh, and it has been selected as the theme for a campaign designed to inspire young people, using the legacy and messages of the firebrand reggae legend.

Using Reggae and Black History Month as the backdrop to bring this vision to life, the Peter Tosh Foundation has partnered with the Peter Tosh Museum to get the inaugural campaign under way on February 18. On that day, a ­special group of high-school students will be given an opportunity to get up close and personal with Tosh. Among the day’s activities will be addresses by speakers, including reggae singer Jah9 and Akayda McIntosh, Tosh’s grand­daughter and executive assistant of his estate.

Niambe McIntosh, the youngest child of Tosh, and executor of her father’s estate and brand, told The Gleaner that 20 students from Haile Selassie High School on Spanish Town Road, will be in this first group, and that they have been selected based on their academic achievements.

“These 20 top scholars will spend the morning at the Peter Tosh Museum, with the family, getting the opportunity to embark on a history and musical journey at the Peter Tosh Museum to honour Reggae and Black History Month,” she explained.

According to her, Haile Selassie High was an obvious choice as it has an authentic and noteworthy history. “This is a school that was a gift to Jamaica from Emperor Haile Selassie himself back in 1969. So it is most timely to celebrate his legacy as well during Black History Month,” she said.

Can’t Blame The Youth, a song which criticised the systemic failures of modern education in helping the youth reach their full potential, was first recorded with the Wailers during the sessions for the Burnin album in 1973. The song did not appear on that album, and was later re-recorded for Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights album.

Grammy-winning artiste Peter Tosh, it is said, has always maintained that the youth of Jamaica cannot be blamed for being ignorant of their history or engaging in violence because they are the product of a Euro-centric, colonial educational system, as well as a culture that encourages gunplay.

Against this background, Niambe McIntosh shared the Foundation’s vision: “Our vision is that we impart upon this generation those fundamental tenets of Peter Tosh’s philosophy and reality: studiousness, fortitude, self-discipline, and to speak truth and fight against inequity. We hope to instil unity and cultivate young revolutionary thinkers and pioneers of tomorrow.”

This is the latest initiative of the Peter Tosh Foundation, which has a mandate to ensure the maintenance of the legacy of Peter Tosh through the continued ­development of the Peter Tosh Museum.

“We are making sure that the world will forever have a place to come and learn about his contributions to reggae music and social change. Furthermore, through the Can’t blame The Youth ­campaign, we also have the Legalize It Campaign, advocating for the legalisation and education of cannabis. Lastly, and very near, and dear to the family, is our Justice for Jawara Initiative, which not only seeks to raise funds for the medical care of Peter Tosh’s youngest son, Jawara, who was brutalised while incarcerated for the possession of cannabis, but also this initiative will advocate for criminal justice reform,” she explained.

When faced with the question: If Peter Tosh were alive today, would his message have changed/modified in any way? Niambe told The Gleaner that much of her father’s message was eternal.

“Much of his message was eternal, having a sense of urgency, challenging the status quo, and using one’s voice to affect change. However, I do believe his tactics would be somewhat different in this modern age,” McIntosh surmised.

Winston Hubert ‘Peter Tosh’ Mcintosh, known as the ‘Stepping Razor’ from a song in which he declared himself ‘dangerous’, was murdered by gunmen at his Barbican Road residence in St Andrew on September 11, 1987. He was 42 years old.