Wed | Oct 28, 2020

I know that everybody vex – Toots’ widow - Funeral for reggae icon today

Published:Thursday | October 15, 2020 | 12:14 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer

Doreen Hibbert, the widow of music legend Toots Hibbert has confirmed that Dovecot Memorial Gardens in St Catherine is the place where the reggae star will be interred this morning. That will follow a private thanksgiving service without any livestreaming of the ceremony or any frills, which will be attended by some members of the Hibbert family. And while defending her decision to lay him to rest at Dovecot, Doreen added that the cemetery is a temporary resting place for the singer’s remains.

“I decide to do what I can do now. I can’t get anywhere suitable to bury him, and I don’t want to keep the body any longer,” Doreen told The Gleaner.

“I know that everybody vex, but I am doing the best I can,” she emphasised.

Relatives in Treadlight in Clarendon, where Toots was born, had hoped that the internationally acclaimed singer, and the district’s most famous son, would have had his final resting place among them, similar to reggae King Bob Marley being interred in his birthplace, Nine Mile, St Ann. The Bob Marley Mausoleum is a tourist attraction that is managed by members of Marley’s family.

Wilbert Hibbert, Toots’ nephew, told The Gleaner that his uncle would have wanted to return home and that he was praying and fasting for a huge send-off. Fans of the beloved reggae pioneer were tuned into the idea of Toots taking the proverbial country road back home. “He sings about the country road in one of his biggest songs, and he is always visiting us down here. Him never leave us out. But from Miss Doreen dem come down here and choose the land couple weeks now, we don’t hear not a word. No grave digging not going on down here, and everybody in Treadlight – my mother, sisters, my aunt – a ask me what is happening,” Wilbert said on Tuesday.

Doreen Hibbert confirmed that the family had looked at a piece of land in Treadlight, with the intention of purchasing it, but she said that there were issues with it. “The land is bushy, and there is not enough time to clear it,” she explained. But, also, the property did not change ownership, at least not between the original owner and the Hibberts.

“We didn’t buy that property, and time is running out, so we decided to take him to Dovecot. We have plans for something else later. But the answer to the question is that at the moment, his body will not be going to Treadlight. Everybody is not pleased, but I have nothing more to say on the matter at this time,” Toots’ widow told The Gleaner.

Not informed of the plans

According to Wilbert, he, his aunt, who is Toots’ only living sibling, and other members of the Hibbert family in Treadlight were not informed of the plans for today’s funeral. Toots’ global manager and executive assistant, Cabel ‘Jeffrey’ Stephenson, told The Gleaner that he had no comment.

A thanksgiving service for the life of Frederick Nathaniel ‘Toots’ Hibbert is scheduled for 11 o’clock this morning at the chapel at Perry’s Funeral Home, located just outside of Spanish Town.

Toots, whose career spanned six decades, died on September 11 at The University Hospital of the West Indies. He had been in a medically induced coma for nearly one week and was also on a ventilator, fighting off COVID-19-related illnesses. Two weeks prior, on August 28, Toots released his first album – Got to be Tough – in 10 years, on the Trojan Jamaica record label. Singers and musicians at every level paid tribute to the Grammy winner, who thrilled the world with songs such as S weet and Dandy, 5 4-46, P ressure Drop, Never You Change, and Bam Bam.

For the Jamaica 58 celebrations in August this year, Toots entered the Festival Song competition, the same contest that helped to launch his career in the 1960s. His entry was titled Rise Up Jamaicans.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com